The Rio Rancho Santa Story, Even Make Believe is Dangerous


santa-is-white-teacher-to-studentOver the past week, KOB 4 has been reporting on a Rio Rancho teacher making an insensitive remark to a African American student that wore a Santa Clause costume.

The Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho teacher rhetorically asked of Christopher Rougier, “Don’t you know Santa Clause is white?” KOB is reporting that the teacher was put on administrative leave for his poor choice of words.

The teacher who made the comments has apologized to the student and is on paid administrative leave. The students’ father, Michael Rougier, has asked that his son be removed from the classroom. But the NAACP says the work doesn’t end there, and that this should remind people how important it is to talk about racial issues in schools.

“The comments made by the teacher in the open classroom were offensive, outrageous and inflammatory,” NAACP president Dr. Harold Bailey said.

This story has made the rounds of the various talking heads at FOX, CNN, MSNBC and so on. Megan Kelly at Fox even got in a little hot water for saying, last week that Santa and Jesus were white.

A 13th-century St. Nicholas

How should a Christian react to such controversy? What side should one take when we want to love our neighbor.

It is difficult to say without knowing the true context of the words or how they were said.  It is usually a bad idea in this politically correct culture to even jest this way even if you think you have earned the right to do so.

Mom always said, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I have never been steered wrong by such sage advice. When in doubt, don’t speak.

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. -Proverbs 17:28

We just don’t know when what we think is hip or cool is actually offensive.

I think this whole thing could have been better handled by a strong principal using common sense backed by proper discipline. There is no need for the NAACP to be involved or for this story to even be reported, if it were nipped in the bud.

MerryOldSantaAs to the (mostly) make believe person and race of Santa Clause. Old “Saint Nick” is an amalgamation of various historical and mythical figures. From the Turkish bishop who gave toys to children to the Nordic false god “Odin”, this figure picks up bits an pieces from all over.

This allows the mythical elf to be whatever anyone desires. Black, white or whatever you like. It was not until recent times that the image of Santa Clause was described in great detail.

The current image of Santa became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of Clement Clarke Moore’s 1823 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” and of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast.This image has been maintained and reinforced through song, radio, television, children’s books and films.

I am a Christian pastor who discourages the promotion of Santa Clause anyway. This has been true for most bible believing Christians for centuries. Santa has many more roots in paganism than in Christianity.


Santa Clause is not a specific race or color because he is make believe, a children’s tale to get kids into bed at Christmas time. Jesus is a real person, but He is a Middle eastern Jewish man who is most likely brown in color.

All of this returns me to my ongoing view that without the law of God, we are searching for justice and we overreact to minor infractions of man’s made up morality.


  1. Here, on God’s planet Earth, I could frankly care less if a person or historical character is black, white, pick, purple, orange, green; or any other color. We are ALL God’s children and we are ALL equal to me! When it is time, if He feels it important for me to be able to distinguish what color our mythical Santa Claus is, I have faith that He’ll see to it to inform me then!!!

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