Aaron Urbanski is the 31 year old Texas man who was arrested on Saturday after he took part in a small, but passionate anti-Santa protest outside a church in Cleburne. Local parents were outraged by the demonstrators, who were shouting at children on their way into a pancake breakfast at the Methodist Church. The town’s mayor has vowed to beef up security for Santa at Cleburne’s annual Christmas parade on Sunday night. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Urbanski Was Arrested After Telling Children That Santa Isn’t Real
Aaron Urbanski was one of three men who demonstrated outside of the St Mark United Methodist Church in Cleburne on Saturday afternoon. The church was holding a “breakfast with Santa” event for families; the event also raises money to help buy presents for kids in need.
Urbanski and his fellow protesters staked out the church, holding signs. Two of the men allegedly told at least one mother that she should be teaching her children about Jesus, instead of about Santa Claus. When the mother argued with them, they allegedly started to shout at the children, letting them know that Santa isn’t real.
2. Urbanski Was Charged With Trespassing & Causing a Disturbance on Church Grounds
After Urbanski started shouting about Santa, someone called the local police. Brian McQueen, a Cleburne police officer, said that officers asked the protesters to leave multiple times. Urbanski’s fellow protesters eventually left the church grounds, but Urbanski refused. Officers finally arrested him and charged him with trespassing and with creating a disturbance. He was taken to the Johnson a County Law Enforcement Center, where he was being held without bail.
3. Cleburne’s Mayor Said the Protesters Must Have Wanted Coal in their Stockings
Cleburne is a town of just 30,000 people. After Urbanski was arrested, the mayor — Scott Cain — weighed in on the issue. He said that the town would be sure to provide “extra security” for Santa during the Christmas parade on Sunday evening. And he also cautioned other potential protesters, “Don’t mess with Santa!” Cain wrote, “While I understand folks right to protest, Cleburne loves Santa and those protesters who were naughty and broke the law when they trespassed were arrested promptly. Guess they wanted coal in their stockings to go with a court appearance.”
4. The Protesters Said They Want People to Talk About Jesus, Not Santa
Heather Johnson is a mother of four who took her young children to the breakfast with Santa at St Mark’s Church on Saturdsy morning. She told reporters that said two men came up to her as she was heading into the church with her kids and asked her, “Do you let your kids believe in a fake Santa or do they know who Jesus is?”
Angry, Johnson said she told the protesters “not to ruin Santa and Christmas for my kids.” That’s when the men started to shout that Santa was not real, Johnson says. She says they also shouted that she was “wrong” for teaching her young children about Santa. Johnson told reporters that she was angry and that she “got really verbal with them” over it.
5. St Mark’s ‘Breakfast With Santa’ Is Also a Fundraising Event for Needy Kids
St Mark’s Church in Cleburne describes itself as “an active church seeking to introduce people to Jesus Christ who came to show us how to live and how to love.” Part of the church’s ministry includes outreach programs to help those in need. The church hosts a food pantry, a “God squad,” and a “snack sack” for kids. On Saturday, the church was holding a “breakfast with Santa” event for local families. Kids and their parents were eating a pancake breakfast with Saint Nick, but the event was held for charity; proceeds went to a buy Christmas gifts for children in need.