An Alaska-based radio host and evangelist pastor posted a video online of himself at a mall in Amarillo, Texas, shouting to children waiting in line to see Santa that the man in the bright red suit was fake and their parents were lying about the real meaning of Christmas.
David Grisham said in an interview from Amarillo that his appearance at the mall is similar to sermons he delivers in front of Anchorage's bars and night clubs in which he asks sinners to repent. He aimed to shift the conversation about the holiday, he said.
"I went to the mall because I'm tired of Santa Claus overshadowing Jesus at Christmas," Grisham said. "Christmas is about the birth of Christ — that's where it started and that's what I'd like to see it go back to."
Grisham is the host of Last Frontier Evangelism Radio that airs Sunday mornings on KOAN, according to an Alaska Integrated Media Inc. representative. Grisham said he's been hosting the show for about two months.
He and his wife moved to Alaska in May because God called him to the state to do ministry, he said.
"People may not like the way we do it. What we tell people is biblical, but the way we do it is unconventional," Grisham said.
The Facebook page for Grisham's radio show describes its mission this way: "To take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Last Frontier (Alaska). Through street evangelism, street preaching and teaching, (and) calling on the lost to repent."
The social media page touches on tenets of Christian faith. Grisham urges listeners to take radical measures and fight against a "spiritual warfare" happening nationwide.
Grisham takes various groups and topics "to the woodshed" during his show, and he most recently targeted Christmas. The video has nearly 400,000 views on YouTube and has garnered national attention.
In the video, Grisham introduces himself to a line of parents and children standing in front of Christmas decorations. He tells the crowd about the timing and birthplace of Jesus before shouting, "The man you're seeing today is just a man in a red suit. Santa does not exist."
Parents appear to become angrier as Grisham instructs them to stop lying to their children. "Chill out," "That's enough" and "Eh, shut up," were among their responses to his words.
Grisham said he left the mall without confronting security. He turned off the camera and tried to defuse the situation before leaving the area, he said. He also claims he was assaulted (a man allegedly pushed him from behind), but he did not want to cause trouble for the man. He left the mall and posted the video on the internet, he said.
Grisham argues he achieved his intended goal of shifting the conversation about Christmas because the video went viral. If he gets a handful of people to change their views, he made an impact, he said.
So would he do the same in Alaska?
"Oh, yeah. I don't have a problem with that. If I feel led to do it, I'll do it wherever," he said. "I'll probably wait a while and won't do it at the same mall. I've got a lot of threatening messages because of this."