Family put before church
CHRISTMAS is more about celebrating family than it is about celebrating religion, according to Kirk Porter. And it seems he's not alone.
A survey conducted by The Observer this week indicated that Gladstone residents see the weekend as more of a holiday than a religious celebration.
In fact only 18 per cent of of 100 respondents said they would attend a church service to celebrate Christmas.
Perhaps not surprisingly, 10 to 20-year-olds will be the worst represented at church, with less than five per cent signalling their intention to attend.
Mr Porter said despite his religious upbringing, he had made a conscious decision not to attend church this Christmas.
"I was brought up in the church but I have become very critical of it in recent years,'' he said.
"That's not to say I don't tell my kids about it, but with everything that has happened (regarding disgraced church leaders) lately it seems to me that a lot of people have forgotten what religion is supposed to be all about.
"Instead we celebrate Christmas as a day of family and a time to be giving rather than just receiving.''
Anglican priest Fr Mike Vercoe said it came as little surprise that many people would not be attending church.
"There's little doubt that attendances at church over the years have been in de- cline,'' Fr Vercoe said.
"I would think that there would also have been a decline in people attending Christ- mas services as well.''
Despite the decline he said many of the churches in the region would be filled to capacity on the weekend.
"There's always a good atmosphere at church over Christmas,'' he said.
"It's a very important part of the day for many people and they enjoy being there.''
Catholic priest Fr Michael Carroll said the significance of Christmas could not be underestimated.
"There's something very attractive about the Christmas story,'' Fr Carrol said.
"It's a message of hope that God sent his son to earth to share in our humanity.