In A Charlie Brown Christmas, there's a scene depicting Linus reciting a passage from the Bible.

Linus says he does and, after walking to center stage, recites the annunciation to the shepherds from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, verses 8 through 14, as translated by the Authorized King James Version:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.

This part of the show was seen as controversial for being too religious when it first aired in 1965. I do remember there being some controversy regarding this scene from the show, but the scene seems to still air every year.

The show’s producers repeatedly tried to convince the cartoonist to cut a scene using an old source, one much older than A Christmas Carol. Quoting the Bible was too religious for television, they argued. Schulz was adamant, and what many consider the greatest minute in animation history remained.

CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) in the United States had aired the special from 1965 - 2000. ABC (American Broadcasting Company) acquired the rights to the show in 2000.

Although originally broadcast on the CBS network from 1965 until December 25, 2000, in January 2000, the broadcast rights were acquired by ABC, which is where the special currently airs, usually twice, in December.

Is there any evidence that CBS gave up broadcasting rights to ABC due to the religious content in the show? Was CBS worried about possible backlash that it might cause from future audiences?

  • "This part of the show was seen as controversial for being too religious when it first aired in 1965" Was it?
    – MmmHmm
    Dec 18, 2017 at 4:13
  • 1
    This seems very unlikely given the time period and the presence of televangelists in the US Dec 18, 2017 at 12:36
  • 2
    @Mr.Kennedy See edit. Added source. Producers certainly did think that it was too religious...even in 1965. Dec 18, 2017 at 17:27
  • 1
    @JamesMcLeod See edit. Televangelists also weren't aired on prime time... Dec 18, 2017 at 17:31
  • If you have a source for your claim, this could be one for Skeptics.
    – OrangeDog
    Dec 19, 2017 at 13:03

1 Answer 1


The only ones mentioning it could be controversial were the producer Lee Mendelson and director Bill Melendez directly to Schulz. CBS's comments prior to it airing did not mention the religious content but that it was too slow, there was no action, the kids weren’t polished, and the jazz didn’t belong.

When it did air, it was very well received and even won a Peabody and an Emmy Award. It has aired every year for over 50 years. That doesn't sound like controversy.

I do not look at this as if CBS dumped it. Consider that ABC is owned by Disney. Disney has been acquiring a lot of stuff over the past few decades. I would consider that a compliment to "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

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