How Charles Schulz Fought for Jesus in ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

More than 50 years after it first aired, A Charlie Brown Christmas remains one of the most beloved TV specials of the season among people of faith, primarily due to Linus’ bold recitation of the gospel message.

But that famous scene was added to the special over the objections of the producer and the animator, who believed that Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz had crossed a line in wanting Linus to recite the Bible.

The special first aired in 1965.

Producer Lee Mendelson recounted the controversy in author Charles Solomon’s 2012 book, The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation.

“I said, ‘Sparky, this is religion. It just doesn’t go in a cartoon,’” Mendelson said, referencing Schulz’s nickname and the debate over the scene. “He looked at me very coldly and said, ‘Bill, if we don’t do it, who will? We can do it.’ He was right. That’s been the most commented-on little sequences of that show – Linus telling the true meaning of Christmas. But every time I see that scene, I wince. It’s such poor animation, such bad drawing.”

Mendelson later told the Huffington Post, “When [Schulz] said, ‘You know, we’re going to have Linus read from the Bible,’ Bill and I looked at each other and said, ‘Uh oh, that doesn’t sound very good,’ But then Schulz said, ‘Look, if we’re going to do this, we should talk about what Christmas is all about, not just do a cartoon with no particular point of view.’”

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Source: Christian Headliness