Americans say religious aspects of Christmas emphasized less than in the past

Americans say religious aspects of Christmas emphasized less than in the past

Fewer than half (46 percent) see it as "more of a religious holiday" than a "cultural holiday". That's down from 59% in 2013.

"Nine in 10 US adults say they celebrate the holiday, which is almost identical to the share who said this in 2013", said the survey, whose results were released December 12. Those numbers, Pew added, are roughly the same as those of 2013.

According to a new Pew Research Center survey, 56 percent of respondents said the religious parts of celebrating Christmas are less prominent now than in the past, while another 30 percent said there hasn't been a change.

Ninety percent of Americans celebrate Christmas in some form, a figure that has "hardly budged at all" since its survey in 2013, the center said.

Overall, the study found that almost a third are bothered "some" by the decline in religion's role in Christmas, however the other two-thirds is either not bothered by the trend or believe religion in Christmas is not fading.

One flashpoint is how Americans think store clerks should greet customers at this time of the year. When this question was first asked over a decade ago, and then again in 2012, roughly equal shares expressed a preference for "merry Christmas" and said it didn't matter.

There was a trend of some retail outlets instructing employees to use "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas;" and that fed into the campaign that there was a "War on Christmas". "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". "Likewise, 68 percent of USA adults now say they believe that the wise men were guided by a star and brought gifts for baby Jesus, down from 75 percent".

"To be sure, large majorities of Christians still believe in key elements of the Nativity story as described in the Bible", Pew researchers summarized. That decline, Pew noted, "has been particularly pronounced among white mainline Protestants".

Fifty-four percent of Republicans say Christian displays like nativity scenes should be allowed on government property, versus just 27 percent of Democrats, according to the Pew study. Thirty-five percent said it was OK but only if accompanied by other religious symbols such as Hanukkah candles, up from 32 percent. (Only 50% of the Unaffiliated agree it's okay, compared to 57% a few years ago.) But here's the kicker: 19% of Christians say no religious displays should be on government grounds at all, and that's an increase of 5% from 2014. That declined in 2017 to 82 percent who said they would spend the holiday with family or friends and 51 percent who said they planned to attend a religious service.

Catholics are not immune from the decline in belief about the biblical account of Jesus's birth. The four elements they cite found in Scripture say Jesus was born to a virgin, that the wise men were guided by a star and brought gifts for baby Jesus, that Jesus' birth was heralded by an angel of the Lord and that Jesus was laid in a manger as an infant. Though 66 percent of Americans overall still believe Jesus was born of a virgin, that is down from 73 percent in 2014.

Additionally, 68 percent of Republicans perceived that religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less today than in the past, compared to half of Democrats. The total sample size featured a 2.9 percent margin of error.

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