Religious observance of Christmas in America on decline

Remigio Civitarese
Dicembre 13, 2017

Researchers at the Washington-based Pew Research Center describe the drop as "one of the most striking changes in recent years" as 57 per cent said they believed four central aspects to the biblical account.

Fewer adults in the United States, including Christians, fully support the religious connotations attached to the upcoming holiday, and relatively few Americans are troubled by this declining trend, according to the survey.

According to Pew, Christians were more likely to say that they wanted to be greeted with "Merry Christmas" (41%), but that was still less than the number of Christians who said it didn't matter (45%).

The survey found 55 percent of adults Americans say they celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, down from 59 percent of Americans in 2013. Another 30 percent said there hasn't been a change.

Fifty-seven percent of USA adults believe in all four aspects of the Biblical story, down from 65 percent in 2014.

Most Americans said they celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, including 46 percent who said it is more of a religious holiday than a cultural holiday and 9 percent who said they will celebrate Christmas as both a religious and a cultural holiday.

The data was collected in a series of telephone interviews of 1,503 people above the age of 18 living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia conducted between November 29 and December 4.

The US' increasingly secular approach to Christmas was further emphasised as more than a quarter said no Christian symbols whatsoever should be allowed on government property, a rise of six points from 2014, and another third said Christmas symbols should only be allowed if they go alongside other displays from other faiths.

Gary Ebersole, director of the religious studies program at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, says that while he is not surprised by the study's findings, they are troubling to the extent in which political affiliation correlates with literal beliefs.

There has been a small but significant recent decline in the number of Christians who believe in the four main elements of the Christmas story, according to the Pew survey. Dropping from 81 percent in 2014 to 76 percent today, fewer Christians say they believe in the virgin birth, the visit of the Magi, the announcement of Jesus' birth by an angel and the fact that Jesus was born in the manger. "This does not bode well for the Republican Party, but if voter apathy also continues to grow, it will not necessarily benefit the Democrats, especially if conservatives continue to be energized by social issues such as abortion, guns, religious freedom, etc".

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