A recent survey by the Pew Research Center reveals that the vast majority of US citizens believe that the story of Jesus’ birth as narrated by the gospel writers is historically accurate in its essential details.
According to the study, a full 81% of adult Americans believe that the baby Jesus was laid in a manger, while 75% believe that “wise men, guided by a star, brought Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” And nearly as many, or 74%, believe that an angel of the Lord really appeared to shepherds to proclaim the birth of Jesus.
American women are slightly more believing than men, while those who regularly attend religious services are considerably more likely to believe than those who attend less often, or never.
Religious affiliation is also an important indicator of belief, with only 30% of the religiously unaffiliated believing that Jesus was born to a virgin, whereas 91% of Protestants and 86% of Catholics surveyed believe this, and the number rises to 96% in the case of Evangelical Protestants.
Meanwhile, just 14% of US adults say that they do not believe in any of the key details of the Christmas story–meaning the virgin birth, laying in a manger, angelic proclamation to shepherds and visit of the three wise men bearing gifts.
A whopping 87% of American adults believe that at least some of the Biblical details reported about Jesus’ birth are true, and fully 65% of Americans believe that all of the key details reflect what really happened.
The survey found that religious practice is a good indicator of the way people view the holiday season. Those who attend religious services regularly “are more enthusiastic about the various activities associated with the holiday season” than are those who attend less, the survey showed. These activities include visiting with family and friends, gift giving and receiving, attending religious services, and decorating the home.
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