Turns out A Charlie Brown Christmas almost didn’t happen – because Charles Shultz didn’t want the Gospel removed from it.  Lee Habeeb recounts the fascinating story in National Review:

They [network executives] were certain they had a flop on their hands. “They were freaking out about something so overtly religious in a Christmas special,” explained Melendez. “They basically wrote it off, like, hey, this is just isn’t going to be interesting to anyone, and it’s just going to be like a big tax write-off.”

Melendez himself was somewhat hesitant about the reading from Luke. “I was leery of the religion that came into it, and I was right away opposed to it. But Sparky just assumed what he had to say was important to somebody.” Which is why Charles Schulz was Charles Schulz. He knew that the Luke reading by Linus was the heart and soul of the story.

The heart and soul of the story? Absolutely.