O Holy Night! Most Americans believe in Christmas story

Washington D.C., December 16, 2014

Christmas carols echo reality for most Americans, who believe in the historical accuracy of several Gospel descriptions of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Pew Research Center’s survey, published Dec. 15, found “widespread belief in the Biblical Christmas story.”

About 73 percent of all respondents said they believe Jesus Christ was born to a virgin, while 74 percent believe an angel announced Jesus’ birth to shepherds, 75 percent believe in the visit of the wise men, and 81 percent believe the infant Jesus was laid in a manger.

About 86 percent of the survey’s Catholic respondents said they believe in the Virgin Birth, compared with 91 percent of Protestants. About 90 percent of Catholics said they believe angels announced Jesus Christ’s birth to shepherds. Ninety-two percent of Catholic respondents said Jesus was laid in a manger, while 84 percent believe that wise men, guided by a star, brought gifts to Jesus.

Women and older respondents were somewhat more likely to profess their belief in the Virgin Birth, as were frequent church attendees and those who had a high school education or less.

Even among those with no religious affiliation, about 30 percent believe in the Virgin Birth.

The survey of 1,507 U.S. adults was conducted Dec. 3-7. It claims a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for the entire sample.

It also asked respondents about their favorite holiday activities and how they felt about gift giving.

About 48 percent of Catholics said they looked forward to attending religious services as a part of their holiday activities, compared to 57 percent of Protestants.

The survey found that most Americans generally approve of religious symbols like Nativity scenes on public property, though some said such scenes should be accompanied by symbols of other religious faiths.



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