Gospel references have been stripped from a nativity story because children’s fundamental biblical knowledge is so minimal they would fail to understand it, a leading Christian charity has said.
Scripture Union, one of the UK’s oldest Christian organisations for young people and children, have also simplified the story ahead of sending out the picture book, The First Christmas, to over 105,000 children this year.
Whilst previous publications have included Bible references and encouraged children to compare the story to the Gospels, this simplified version is written from the angle that children reading the book will know very little about the birth of Jesus and do not go to church.
After the book was unveiled on Thursday, head of fundraising, Paul Stockwell told Premier Christian Radio: “We see surveys from different retailers where they ask children and young people what they think Christmas means.
“They’re a bit of fun but they do show that knowledge of the Christian faith and the Christian story is slowly dwindling amongst the next generation.”
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The scale of Biblical illiteracy amongst children has been revealed in a number of surveys, including one in 2014 which showed that one in three children between 10 and 13 do not know that Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. According to figures released by the Children’s Society in 2013, one in 10 children also believe that December 25th marks Father Christmas’s birthday.
Public schools have also not supported the teaching of the nativity story, with just one in three primary schools holding traditional Christmas nativity plays (according to 2014 figures).
In September, Breitbart London reported that for the first time ever, more than half of Britons describe themselves as having “no religion”, with the fall in religious affiliation being driven by the growing number of young people who have no faith. Just 15 per cent of respondents considering themselves a member of the Church of England.
However, Mr. Stockwell added that despite ignorance of the Gospel, children have a “natural thirst” for and an “inclination” to faith: “We were talking to children who don’t attend church and they had a natural thirst… to ask the big questions and want to find the answers, and a natural inclination to pray.”
The books will be handed out through charities, foodbanks, and an organisation that supports youngsters with parents in prison.