Majority say Jesus’ birth is personally significant

Most Britons say the birth of Jesus Christ is important to them personally and will celebrate Christmas as a religious festival this year, according to a new poll.

Three-quarters (72 per cent) of Britons see the birth of Jesus as still a “significant” part of our culture, according to theology think-tank Theos.

More than half (57 per cent) will be celebrating Christmas as a religious festival.

Director of Theos, Paul Woolley said: “The extent of religious belief will no doubt surprise people, but these findings are consistent with other research we have undertaken.”

A poll in March showed that 40 per cent of Britons believe Jesus was the Son of God and a similar proportion agreed that he died for the sins of the world.

Mr Woolley said he found it “especially striking” that over half of people believed the birth of Christ was personally significant to them.

He added: “In periods of financial uncertainty, when there is concern about losing jobs or homes, perhaps people are more open to thinking about life’s ultimate questions.

“Despite all the hype around the recent success of recent books promoting atheism, it is clear that, for most people, religious belief cannot be explained away so easily.”

Findings are consistent with recent news that thousands of people have been filling churches during the financial crisis, as reported by the Church of England.

Back to Church Sunday, an annual service in September when church members invite a friend, attracted 37,000 new congregants this year, almost twice the number in 2007.

The Reverend Canon Paul Bayes said: “People are inclined to look at the church when their life gets a bit of a shock.

“This could be when you have a baby, or get married, or experience the loss of a loved one, and the current economic uncertainties are no different.”

In a new book, Faith in the Nation, Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic leader expresses how the UK is still overwhelmingly a Christian nation. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor writes: “The constitution of the United Kingdom is rooted in faith, specifically the Christian faith.”

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