A vast majority of Britons do not believe in the historical truth of the nativity story about the birth of Jesus, a new survey finds.
Seventy percent of Britons are skeptical about the birth of Jesus in a manger and his virgin mother, according to a poll of 1,000 people by the British Marketing Research Bureau for St. Helen’s Church in Bishopsgate, London.
The number is even higher among the younger generation, age 16-24 years old, where 78 percent said they were not convinced the story is true.
A quarter of those questioned who described themselves as Christian admitted they did not completely believe in all the Bible’s teachings on Jesus.
The Rev. Charlie Skrine, curate of St. Helen’s Church, said the survey shows that “most of the U.K. believes that the accounts of Jesus’ birth aren’t good history,” according to U.K.’s Telegraph.
He added, “Combined with a general lack of understanding about the real meaning of Christmas, this leaves people without the hope that Jesus offers.”
A New Testament scholar at Cambridge University, Simon Gathercole, pointed out that the stories about the start of Christianity are rooted in real history.
“Jesus was born while Augustus was emperor of Rome just before Herod died,” Gathercole said. “We’re talking about events that are anchored in real history not in ancient Greek myths.”
A U.N. report published earlier this year might help explain why such a high number of Britons do not believe in the nativity story.
According to the report, two-thirds of the British people admitted to having no religious adherence. And among those who are religious, a growing number are Muslims.
Last year, a survey by the public theology think tank Theos found that only 12 percent of adults in Britain know the “classic elements” of the Christmas story as found in the Bible.
Survey findings about beliefs regarding the nativity scene and Christmas reflects the lack of biblical understanding in the United Kingdom as shown by a survey in 2005 that found less than half of Britons know the meaning of Easter as the day that Jesus Christ resurrected.
According to the CIA World Factbook, the United Kingdom population is 72 percent Christian, but in reality the percentage is likely significantly less evidenced in the surveys.