Updated: December 21, 2010 9:09AM
More than nine in 10 Americans celebrate Christmas — even if they’re atheists, agnostics or believers in non-Christian faiths such as Judaism and Islam, according to two new surveys.
But the surveys also indicate that while most call Christmas a holy day that’s primarily religious, their actions speak volumes to the contrary.
Many skip church, omit Jesus and zero in on the egg nog, according to the polls done by LifeWay Research, a Nashville-based Christian research organization, and USA Today / Gallup Poll.
LifeWay’s survey of 2,110 adults found 74 percent called Christmas “primarily” religious. The Gallup Poll of 1,000 adults found 51 percent say that, for them, it’s “strongly religious,” up from 40 percent in 1989.
Most of those surveyed said they will give gifts (89 percent), dine with family or friends (86 percent), put up a Christmas tree (80 percent) and play holiday music (79 percent).
But the percentages plummet when it comes to religious activities: 58 percent say they “encourage belief in Jesus Christ as savior”; 47 percent attend church Christmas Eve or Christmas Day; 34 percent watch “biblical Christmas movies”; and 28 percent read or tell the Christmas story from the Bible.
“It’s alarming to me that while nine in 10 celebrate Christmas, only six in 10 encourage any belief in the source of Christmas and only three in 10 actually read the story of Christmas,” says Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay.
Gannett News Service