Belief in resurrection undergoes revival
Nearly half of the population believes that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, reports the Daily Telegraph.
The findings in a new survey challenge the widespread view that Easter is seen as little more than an opportunity to indulge a taste for chocolate - even though relatively few will go to church.
More surprisingly, the figures suggest that belief in the Resurrection may actually be increasing.
A poll in 2001, by the Fortean Times newspaper, found that a third of people agreed with the Biblical account of the event, and a European Values study in 1990 put the figure at 32 per cent.
But almost half the respondents in the new survey, 47 per cent, said that they believed that Christ rose from the dead. More than a third, 36 per cent, said they did not, and 15 per cent said that they did not know.
Peter Brierley, director of Christian Research, said that the figures would cheer Church leaders, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who has orthodox views on the Resurrection.
"The actual percentage is higher than in some recent polls, but the proportion who hold the not unconnected belief in life after death has also been increasing over the past few years." said Dr Brierley, a former Government statistician.
Canon Tom Wright, a theologian and the next Bishop of Durham, who has written a book on the Resurrection, welcomed the figures, but added that he would like to know how people understood the belief.
"Some people confuse the Resurrection with life after death, but they are not the same thing," he said. "It would be interesting to know why many of these people will not attend a church over Easter."
The survey, carried out last week among a representative sample of 1,003 people by Nunwood Consulting, a market research company, also found that the vast majority correctly identified the religious significance of Easter.