The Republican National Committee (RNC) was forced to clarify that its Christmas message did not refer to President-elect Donald Trump as a "new King". The message delivered by RNC chairman, and incoming White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, caused discussions to ignite on social media on whether the reference was about Trump or Jesus Christ.

"Over two millennia ago, a new hope was born into the world, a Savior who would offer the promise of salvation to all mankind. Just as the three wise men did on that night, this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King," Priebus and co-chair Sharon Day said in the statement.

The statement continued: "We hope Americans celebrating Christmas today will enjoy a day of festivities and a renewed closeness with family and friends."

The statement quickly caught the eye of Democrats and journalists who questioned whether it referenced Trump or Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, others defended the RNC and claimed the statement was clearly a reference to Jesus, The Hill reported.

Sean Spicer, an RNC spokesman and incoming White House press secretary, said the reference had nothing to do with the president-elect. "Christ is the King in the Christian faith," Spicer told CNN.

Spicer later took to Twitter to write that it is "sad & disappointing you are politicising such a holy day" when asked by a reporter about the statement. CNN noted that Priebus' Christmas statement last year made no reference to a "King".

The statement also called on Americans to remember the less fortunate and be mindful of the men and women in uniform who are unable to be with their families during the holidays. "We express the deepest gratitude for service that takes them away from celebrating with loved ones, and we ought to remember them in our thoughts and prayers not just on Christmas Day but the whole year round," the statement said.

Reince Priebus
RNC chair Reince Priebus' Christmas statement sparked debate on Twitter over a line about a 'new King' this Christmas REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo