Americans Say Religious Aspects of Christmas Are Declining in Public Life

Source: Pew Research Center

Shrinking majority believe biblical account of birth of Jesus depicts actual events

Representation of Christmas Nativity scene. Holy Family figurines under a hut in the desert, cow, donkey, a shepherd and two sheep are in silhouette style at foreground. In the background, a beautiful blue starly sky. XXXL concept image image.

Representation of Christmas Nativity scene. (Photoillustration by iStock.com/lukbar)

As long-simmering debates continue over how American society should commemorate the Christmas holiday, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that most U.S. adults believe the religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less now than in the past – even as relatively few Americans are bothered by this trend. In addition, a declining majority says religious displays such as nativity scenes should be allowed on government property. And compared with five years ago, a growing share of Americans say it does not matter to them how they are greeted in stores and businesses during the holiday season – whether with “merry Christmas” or a less-religious greeting like “happy holidays.”

Not only are some of the more religious aspects of Christmas less prominent in the public sphere, but there are signs that they are on the wane in Americans’ private lives and personal beliefs as well. For instance, there has been a noticeable decline in the percentage of U.S. adults who say they believe that biblical elements of the Christmas story – that Jesus was born to a virgin, for example – reflect historical events that actually occurred. And although most Americans still say they mark the occasion as a religious holiday, there has been a slight drop in recent years in the share who say they do this.

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