PRRI’s latest survey, conducted in partnership with Religion News Service and released just today, uncovers a number of key findings on Americans’ opinions about the holiday season.
- Nearly half (49%) of Americans agree stores and businesses should greet their customers with “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” instead of “merry Christmas” out of respect for people of different faiths. However, a substantial minority (43%) disagree. Support for saying “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” is up slightly since December 2010, when 44% preferred that businesses use less religious greetings.
- Among Americans celebrating Christmas this year, most will celebrate it as a religious holiday (42 percent strongly religious; 31 percent somewhat religious). More than a quarter of Americans (26 percent), however, will celebrate Christmas this year largely as a non-religious holiday.
- The survey also finds that less than half (49 percent) of Americans say they believe the story of Christmas—the virgin birth, the angelic proclamation to the shepherds, the star of Bethlehem, and the wise men from the East—is historically accurate, compared to 4-in-10 (40 percent) who say it is a theological story to affirm faith in Jesus Christ. Roughly 1-in-10 (11 percent) Americans say they are not sure. Compared to a decade ago, significantly fewer Americans report believing that the story of Christmas is historically accurate. In 2004, two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans reported believing that the Christmas story was historically accurate, compared to only 24 percent who said it was a theological story written to inspire faith.
The survey has already made a big splash in the news today. In case you missed it, here are some of the lead stories on the findings: “Nearly Half of Americans Like ‘Happy Holidays’ As Greeting” at Reuters, The Washington Post’s “Poll: Christmas is a Commercial Holiday, Not a Sacred Holy Day, for Many,” at The Washington Post, and PBS NewsHour’s “Nearly Half of Americans Prefer ‘Happy Holidays’ Greeting.”
And be sure to check out PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones’s explanation of the changing beliefs in the historical accuracy of the Christmas story in his latest column, “Do You Believe? Americans Less Likely to Believe in Historical Accuracy of Christmas Story Than a Decade Ago,” which is featured on the home page over at the Huffington Post.
Be sure to check out the PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey’s findings in full, including the topline questionnaire, by clicking here!