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, which explores Americans’ feelings toward the holiday season:
For one in four American adults (26 percent), Dec. 25 is simply a cultural holiday, not a religious holy day.
“The trend is in that direction, for sure,” said Robert Jones, CEO of PRRI. The percentage of people who say the Bible’s Christmas story is historically accurate has fallen more than 17 percentage points since a 2004 survey reported by Newsweek.
Even so, almost half (49 percent) of those who do celebrate Christmas (including 80 percent of white evangelicals) believe that the Virgin birth is historically accurate, that shepherds really saw a star over Bethlehem and that three wise men truly visited baby Jesus in a manger.
Why the shift toward a more secular Christmas? One reason, Jones said, is that a decade ago, many more people identified as evangelicals, who (according to the poll) take the holiday most seriously. Today, they are 18 percent of Americans — outnumbered by the 20 percent who say they have no religious identity, Jones said.