“Children know too little about Jesus!” says the Bible Society

Christmas is coming, and hot on the heels of results from the UK census showing that Christianity is dwindling we have another blow to the faithful:

Scandal of Mary and Joseph passes most Britons by – as they place Father Christmas by the manger

Only a quarter of Britons are aware that Jesus was born out of wedlock while some even believe that Father Christmas was part of the nativity scene, a survey has found.

While many could be forgiven for confusion over Mary and Joseph’s exact marital status, the study also highlights more unexpected gaps in the nation’s knowledge of the Christmas story.

Scores of people tested thought Jesus was placed in a Moses basket rather than a manger.

Source: Telegraph, 17 December 2012

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Nearly 40% of Britons believe baby Jesus’ first visitor was SANTA and that he slept in a basket

Despite nativity plays commencing in schools across the country, it seems many people struggle with the storyline of the birth of baby Jesus.

A majority of Britons appear to be unaware that Jesus was born out of wedlock and some believe that the first person to visit the manger was Santa.

Only 26 per cent knew that Mary and Joseph were betrothed when asked about the story of the birth of Christ, a survey revealed.

Source: Daily Mail, 17 December 2012

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Pause for a moment and consider that 40% figure – four in ten people really think Santa was present at the birth of Jesus? Four people in every ten think a fictional character… was visited by Santa? Well, no… at least not when compared to the correlating statistic in the Telegraph:

The pollsters ICM asked just over 1,000 children and 1,000 parents to take a short multiple-choice test to gauge their knowledge of the Christmas story on behalf of the Bible Society…

When asked who first visited the baby Jesus, only 46 per cent correctly identified the Shepherds while almost as many thought it was the wise men, and 13 per cent suggested angels.

In total 37 people thought that the answer was Father Christmas.

In fact, the supposed 40% of people as reported in the Mail was actually fewer than 40 people in total. Of which, many are likely to be children. Which makes a lot more sense, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Leaving aside the very real doubts over the nativity story as described in the gospels – such as the inclusion of a census, stable, shepherds, and in fact any proof that Jesus existed – is there a reason why we might suspect there’s more to this story than it seems at first? Like, say, an undeclared invested interest biasing the results?

Over 2,000 children and parents were polled on behalf of the Bible Society about their nativity play knowledge, and the results showed some major holes in the story.

So the Bible Society, in the same week that statistics show there are fewer Christians in the country than expected, thinks children know too little about the Christian holy book. Go figure.