When King James Bible Online asked the 110,000 users on its Facebook page if they believe Jesus was born on Dec. 25, Christmas Day, 83 percent of those who responded answered in the negative. A majority of the respondents also said Santa Claus is a "lie."
The date of the birth of Christ was among the four questions King James Bible Online asked as part of its survey, titled "What Do Christians Really Believe About Christmas," that was conducted this month.
Only 11 percent of the respondents said tradition is right about the date of Jesus' birth. Six percent marked "Not sure."
King James Bible Online, a website inviting its visitors to read the Bible online, says 65 percent of its users live in the United States. And 96 percent of those polled said they are Christian.
Interestingly, while the majority of the respondents do not believe Jesus was born on Dec. 25, 71 percent said they think Christians should celebrate Christmas. One-fourth of the respondents said "No."
When asked, "Do you think it's OK to let kids believe in Santa Claus?" the majority, or 64 percent, said, "Definitely not, it's a lie." However, 28 percent said, "Yes, it's just for fun," and six percent had no opinion.
The last question of the survey was, "Do you think it's OK to have a Christmas tree in a church building?" More than half, or 58 percent, of respondents marked "Yes," while 39 percent said "No." Three percent said they were not sure.
The majority of those polled, 82 percent, reported they have been a Christian for more than 10 years, and 79 percent said they had read the entire Bible at least once. Females in the group made up about 60 percent of the respondents.
Several academics have made the claim that Jesus was born several years earlier than commonly believed.
In his recently published book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, Pope Benedict XVI argues that the Christian calendar is based on a miscalculation. "The calculation of the beginning of our calendar – based on the birth of Jesus – was made by Dionysius Exiguus, who made a mistake in his calculations by several years," says the 85-year-old pontiff in the book that was published weeks before Christmas.
"The actual date of Jesus's birth was several years before," the pope argues.
Exiguus, or Dennis the Small, was a 6th-century monk from Eastern Europe who is best known as the inventor of the Anno Domini (AD) era, which is used to number the years of both the Gregorian calendar and the Julian calendar.