What Britons Believe

By John Martin

Polls about British religious beliefs continue to baffle the pundits. A new report by Westminster-based ComRes, commissioned by the BBC, found that a quarter of Britons who describe themselves as Christians do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus.

But almost one in 10 claiming no religion nevertheless said they believed the Easter story. A fifth of non-religious people said they believe in life after death. The poll surveyed 2,010 people by telephone in early February, and the results were published on Palm Sunday:

  • 17 percent of all respondents affirmed this statement: “I believe the resurrection of Jesus from the dead happened word-for-word as described in the Bible.” Among Christians, the number rose to 31 percent. Among active Christians (defined as those who attend a religious service at least once a month) the number rose to 57 percent.
  • Half of all respondents do not believe in the resurrection at all.
  • 46 percent of people say they believe in some form of life after death and 46 percent do not.
  • 20 percent of non-religious people say they believe in some form of life after death.
  • 9 percent of non-religious people affirmed this statement: “I believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but the story in the Bible contains some content which should not be taken literally.”

“This important and welcome survey proves that many British people, despite not being regular churchgoers, hold core Christian beliefs,” said the Rt. Rev. David Walker, Bishop of Manchester. “Alongside them, it finds surprisingly high levels of religious belief among those who follow no specific religion, often erroneously referred to as secularists or atheists.

“This demonstrates how important beliefs remain across our society and hence the importance both of religious literacy and of religion having a prominent place in public discourse.”

Image: “Number Cruncher” by quicksandals/Morguefile

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