Children say being famous is best thing in world

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The Independent Online

It's Christmas time and apparently what every little boy and girl would like most of all is to be famous.

Being a celebrity has topped a list of what children under 10 believe to be the "very best thing in the world" in a survey carried out for National KidsDay.

Those who believe we live in an increasingly shallow culture will not be surprised to learn that at numbers two and three in the poll of 2,500 children were "good looks" and "being rich".

But all is not lost. They put "killing" and "wars" at the head of a list of the "very worst things in the world", followed by drunks, bullies, illness, smoking, stealing, divorce and being fat. Dying made tenth place.

With only a week until Christmas, God took tenth place in the best things in the world, losing out to families, friends, pop music and watching films. He did, however, come first in the list of the most famous people, beating George Bush and Madonna into second and third place. Father Christmas was at number five, with Jesus at number four.

But while children may have relegated God,their parents haven't, and eight out of ten Britons believe that celebrating the birth of Christ is an integral part of Christmas, despite a series of press stories reporting that councils or other employers want to ban the use of the word Christmas.

In today's Independent, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, warns against "aggressive" secularism that would "erase" Christianity from public life.

Despite all the advertising that bombards people with suggestions for presents they might like to give or receive on Christmas Day, the poll carried out for the theology thinktank Theos suggests that most adults agree with children, and put family and friends higher on the list than consumer goods.

Asked to pick the best aspect of the seasonal break, 86 per cent said it was spending time with family and friends, compared to just 2 per cent who said presents were most important.

Asked to name the worst things about Christmas, 43 per cent said financial pressures, compared with 26 per cent who said the absence of loved ones, 18 per cent who said eating and drinking too much, and 7 per cent who said family arguments. Nearly two thirds - 62 per cent - said that Christmas makes them think about spiritual things.

The findings support evidence that church attendance has gone up sharply this Christmas, with some churches having to arrange extra carol services. Answering questions from readers of The Independent, the Archbishop of York denied that Britain has become a "Godless" country.

He wrote: "Every week you will find more people worshipping at Churches than at all football grounds." Asked what they would do if they were king or queen of the world, the top response from under-10s was to ban knives and guns.

The best and the worst things

* BEST

1. Being a Celebrity

2. Good Looks

3. Being Rich

4. Being Healthy

5. Pop Music

6. Families

7. Friends

8. Nice Food

9. Watching Films

10. Heaven/God

* WORST

1. Killing People

2. Wars

3. Drunk People

4. Bullies

5. Illness

6. Smoking

7. Stealing

8. Divorce

9. Being Fat

10. Dying

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