Americans’ Belief in Historical Accuracy of Christmas Story Sees Significant Drop

[12.18.2013]

Welcome to the Morning Buzz, PRRI’s morning dose of religion-related news with a shot of data – because what doesn’t liven up a morning round-up like some public opinion numbers? 

Cathy Lynn Grossman’s latest for The Washington Post highlights the findings of PRRI’s most recent report, conducted in partnership with Religion News Service and released just yesterday, which explores Americans’ feelings toward the holiday season. For one-quarter of American adults (26 percent), Dec. 25 is simply a cultural holiday, not a religious holy day. Be sure to also check out coverage of the new report at Reuters, PBS Newshour, and Religion News Service!

Dr. Robert P. Jones has a new piece featured on the Huffington Post homepage that explores the survey’s finding that Americans’ belief in the historical accuracy of the Christmas story—the virgin birth, the angelic proclamation to the shepherds, the star of Bethlehem, and the wise men from the East—has fallen by nearly 20 percentage points during the past decade. Currently, nearly half (49 percent) of Americans affirm the historical accuracy of the story, while 40 percent say they believe it’s a theological story written to affirm Christian faith.

Harold Camping, a preacher known for founding the Family Radio network and predicting the world’s end May 21, 2011, has passed away at age 92. In a 2012 poll, PRRI found that 15 percent of Americans believe the end of the world, as predicted by the Book of Revelation, will happen during their lifetime, while 72 percent do not.

The Atlantic’s Aaron Cline Hanbury has a thought-provoking new piece on the enduring relevance of C.S. Lewis as both a writer and philosopher, as well as his lasting influence on the Christian tradition. Lewis’s Mere Christianity was recently ranked the most influential religious text of the 20th century, and has sold 18 million copies in total.

From building water parks to advocating the legalization of marijuana, USA Today has a fun new look at how lottery winners have spent their fortunes. The Mega Millions lottery jackpot made national news when it reached $636 million yesterday, its second-highest level in history.

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