Jesus, his birth and resurrection: fact or fiction?

Milan DinicDirector - Content Strategy and Innovation
December 29, 2020, 10:46 AM GMT+0

Three in ten people in Britain say that the Biblical portrayal of Christmas is accurate. Just over a quarter of Britons believe that Jesus was ‘the son of God’

The stories of Christmas and Easter form the foundations of the Christian religion and beliefs. A YouGov study on the perception of Christian religious holidays has looked into how familiar Britons are with the Biblical accounts of events celebrated on Christmas and Easter, whether they believe them to be accurate, and what they think about the identity of Jesus Christ.

The Biblical accounts of Jesus’ birth and resurrection

Seven out of ten (69%) Britons say they are ‘very familiar’ with the story Jesus’ birth and a further quarter (26%) said they are ‘somewhat familiar’.

When it comes to Easter – the story of Jesus’ resurrection – six in ten (61%) say they are very familiar with it, and another three in ten (32%) are somewhat familiar.

For both stories, the percentages of those who are familiar with them are almost the same for Christians, non-Christians and those who don’t identify with any religion.

Britons are, however, split when it comes to how accurate the Biblical story of Jesus’ birth is.

For 6% the story is completely accurate, whilst a further quarter (25%) say it’s somewhat accurate. Conversely, over half (52%) consider the nativity story to be historically inaccurate. Just under one in five (17%) say they don’t know.

Among British Christians over a quarter (27%) say they don’t believe in the accuracy of the Christmas story, but six in ten do (59%).

Nearly half (47%) of Britons belonging to non-Christian religions think the account of Jesus’ birth doesn’t stand, whilst three in ten (28%) think it does. For those who are not religious, seven in ten (68%) doubt the account of Jesus’ birth told in the Bible, whilst 15% think it is true.

The age breakdown of the results also shows that younger generations are less likely to believe in the accuracy of the story of Jesus’ birth. Only a fifth (21%) of those in their mid-20s and 30s, and over a quarter (27%) of those 16-24, say the story is accurate; this applies to three in ten (30%) of those in their 40s and 50s, and four in ten (41%) of those 60 and older.

Was Jesus truly the son of God, a historical figure, or just made up entirely?

YouGov research shows that the belief of Jesus being ‘the son of God’ is held by over a quarter (28%) of Britons. Four in ten (41%), however, say Jesus was a historical figure but not the son of God. One in seven (15%) don’t think he existed at all.

Among British Christians, six in ten (59%) say Jesus was the son of God. However, a quarter (24%) see him as only a historical figure, while 6% say he was entirely fictional.

Our study has found that a fifth (21%) of non-Christians and one in ten (10%) of those who say they are not religious, believe Jesus to be the son of God. Half of the non-Christians (48%) and non-believers (51%) believe Christ existed, but was not a divine figure.

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