A quarter of people who describe themselves as Christians in Great Britain do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, a survey commissioned by the BBC suggests.

While 44 per cent of the population overall believes Christ returned from death according to the Bible story, the figure rises to just 72 per cent among Christians—despite the event being a central part of the faith.

But the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, welcomed the poll’s results and said they showed even non-churchgoers held “core Christian beliefs”. Just over a third of people who identified as non-Christians said they thought the resurrection had taken place.

However, five per cent of people who regarded themselves as “active” Christians did not believe the Bible claim was true, according to the Com Res survey of 2,010 people.

The Right Rev Walker said: “This important and welcome survey proves that many British people, despite not being regular churchgoers, hold core Christian beliefs.

“Alongside them it finds surprisingly high levels of religious belief among those who follow no specific religion, often erroneously referred to as secularists or atheists.

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“This demonstrates how important beliefs remain across our society and hence the importance both of religious literacy and of religion having a prominent place in public discourse.”

Alastair Lichten, campaign officer at the National Secular Society, said the results were “not very surprising” because many people identified as Christian for cultural reasons.

He said: “People have every right to identify how they want, but I think this should just send a message.

“When people identify in a certain religious way that doesn’t tell you anything about them. It doesn’t tell you their position on theological issues or on social issues.”

Opinion on whether there is life after death was split across the country, with 46 per cent believing there was, 46 per cent saying the opposition, and 8 per cent unsure.

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The survey suggested:

  • 17% of all people believe the Bible version word-for-word
  • 31% of Christians believe word-for-word the Bible version, rising to 57% among “active” Christians (those who go to a religious service at least once a month)
  • Exactly half of all people surveyed did not believe in the resurrection at all
  • 46% of people say they believe in some form of life after death and 46% do not
  • 20% of non-religious people say they believe in some form of life after death
  • 9% of non-religious people believe in the Resurrection, 1% of whom say they believe it literally

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