A church in Texas has sparked a backlash on social media for holding an extravagant Christmas service, which featured nearly 1,000 performers, including flying angels and real sheep and camels.
A clip posted on TikTok of the Las Vegas-style event at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, has been viewed more than ten million times, with some criticising its extravagance. It showed performers dancing to music from The Greatest Showman and Michael Jackson's Thriller.
One viewer posted: "Nothing about this glorifies God in anyway way. Absolute trash."
But the church was not deterred by the backlash, issuing a statement saying the event was ticketed and not a service. It told San Antonio Express-News:
"Prestonwood Baptist Church is not ashamed to pull out all the stops in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ during the Christmas season.
"At Prestonwood, we believe Jesus deserves our absolute best, especially during Christmas. It’s unfortunate that the perennial American tradition of the church Christmas programme now draws criticism. We pray that they, too, may come to know the joy of Christmas and the love of our Saviour."
The church has nearly 50,000 members across three campuses in the southern United States.