December 25, 2013

Most Americans believe in Jesus’ virgin birth


Most U.S. adults believe Jesus was born of a virgin, including one-third of Americans with no specific religious affiliation.

For most Americans, the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth still has real meaning. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of adults say they believe Jesus was born of a virgin, according to a new Pew Research survey on how Americans celebrate Christmas.

Majorities in the largest Christian religious groups believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, but the survey finds some variation. For example, fewer white mainline Protestants (70%) share this view than white evangelical Protestants (97%).

Even among Americans who have no specific religious affiliation, the story of Christ’s birth resonates with many. One-third (32%) of this group say they believe in the virgin birth. This might seem surprising, but according to a 2012 Pew Research poll, about one in five (18%) of those who have no religious affiliation describe themselves as religious, while nearly four-in-ten (37%) say they are spiritual but not religious; another four-in-ten (42%) say they are neither religious nor spiritual.

The new Christmas poll found an age gap on the question of Jesus’ birth. Two-thirds of adults under age 30 say they believe Jesus was born of a virgin, compared with three-quarters (76%) of those age 30 and older.

Differences also exist along racial lines. Nine-in-ten African-Americans (90%) believe in the virgin birth, as do nearly eight-in-ten Hispanics (78%) and seven-in-ten whites (71%). Women are more likely to believe in the virgin birth than men (78% vs. 69%).

According to the new poll, roughly half of Americans (51%) see Christmas mostly as a religious holiday, while one-third (32%) view it as more of a cultural holiday. About half (54%) say they plan to attend religious services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day this year.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Christians and Christianity

  1. Photo of David Masci

    is a senior writer/editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.


  1. Shaun3 years ago

    Does anyone know how many people were polled? Where they were from?

    1. Bruce Drake3 years ago

      You can find the methodology here:

  2. William B. Keith3 years ago

    I am an 85 year old male Caucasian atheist. I have been an atheist since I was about 20 years old. When I was a teenager I thought I wanted ti be a Baptist preacher but I learned a few things and changed my mind.

    There is no proof of God or anything else religious by science or philosophy or by any other means. If you think you can do so there are several organizations and probably several individuals who will pay you at least a million dollars for the proof.

    All religion is nonsense, legends, myths, lies. Churches and all preachers are leeches on the community taking money for nothing in return.

    William B. Keith
    1302 Pilot Point Dr
    Houston, TX 77038

    281 445-2546

  3. Micah3 years ago

    This survey proves that the Atheists’ attempts to change the U. S. into a Godless and secular country created in the image of liberal Europe has failed miserably. You may as well give up, as yet another one of your social experiments has crashed and burned. You foolishly believe that all you have to do is show religious Americans the error of their ways, i.e., educate them to the superiority of secularism. What you fail to see is that NO ONE wants what you are peddling. Your liberal worldview has been soundly rejected. This is because the American people have seen for themselves that the liberal worldview doesn’t work any better than the conservative worldview. But, at least the conservative worldview has room for a belief in and a reverence for God and His Son, Jesus.

    1. Seathanaich3 years ago

      Your country is already relatively secular. Secular means “separation of religion and state.” If you want to live in a country that it theocratic rather than secular, you have plenty to choose from: Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc. Theocracies are the worst countries on the planet, secular nations are the best countries on the planet. This isn’t a coincidence, it’s cause-and-effect. Western civilisation has been going through the process of secularising since the 30 Years War of the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago. What is needed in the Muslim world to lower the violence and ignorance there is exactly the same thing – secularisation. What makes the west less violent and less ignorant than the Muslim world is the degree to which the ignorance and violence of the Christian-dominated Dark Ages have been replaced by the tolerance and freedom of the secular Enlightenment, and the victory of secular Humanist values over religious Christian values in the west.

      Also, sorry to break this to you, but religion is declining in your country as it is in all educated and free societies, from Aus/NZ, to South Korea/Japan, to Europe, to Can/USA, to Arg/Uru/Chile.

    2. Sally3 years ago

      Um, lady, no one is trying to convert anyone. We leave that to the Christians. You go ahead and try to convert people to believe the same things you do.
      We’re very happy believing in what’s real.
      By the way, liberal does not equal atheist/agnostic.
      Most atheists/agnostics have a reverence and respect for human life.

  4. Qingxin4 years ago

    According to the new poll, roughly half of Americans (51%) see Christmas mostly as a religious holiday, while one-third (32%) view it as more of a cultural holiday.

    How about the reesponsed given by the 17% who are not mentioned here?

  5. Me4 years ago

    The immaculate conception referred to MARY, she was born without original sin, thereby being pure to bear the son of God.

  6. Billie B.4 years ago

    Are they really that stupid?

    And indeed, as Max Nocerino says: scary.

  7. Edwin van Wijk4 years ago

    The Bible is very true but not factual. That is to say; the stories convey the meaning behind them. The virgin birth of Jesus has a purpose, i.e. to make him human and Godly at the same time. It is no use trying to prove the Bible ‘wrong’ or to believe it true (as in real) or not.
    Merry Christmas everybody!

  8. Max Nocerino4 years ago


  9. cb4 years ago

    You are not asking the right question with out detailing your definition of virgin and from what context. A simplistic clack and white poll gets what it asks for — a simplistic black and white answer. What is the point in doing this poll anyway?

    1. John Dennis4 years ago

      It tells us how much more work needs to be done to remove the stupid from our species.

  10. Mark4 years ago

    Superstitious nonsense. I don’t believe the percentage stated in this article. Faulty sample or an outright lie.

  11. Marcin Cieślak4 years ago

    The article does not explain whether “U.S. adults” or only “Christian U.S. adults” were interviewed.

    Any Muslims also asked for the opinion? The story has a firm place in the islamic tradition as well.

    1. Bruce Drake4 years ago

      You can find the methodology for the survey in the original report on which this post was based:

  12. T Crosthwaite4 years ago

    Whatever their belief on this issue, most people think the virgin birth story is in the New Testament. I beg to differ.

    The virgin birth story originated with the interpretation that the Greeks gave to the writings which we now know as the NT.

    With the missionary activities of Paul and others, the passing of the original followers of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem, the NT soon fell into the hands of the Greeks. They interpreted the Hebrew and Jewish Scriptures through the prism of their own culture, and gave meanings to words and phrases never intended by the NT authors.

    For example the Holy Spirit coming “upon” Mary is read as a virginal conception. However there are dozens of instances in the Bible where the Holy Spirit came “upon” individuals, usually men, but only in Mary’s case is it read as God impregnating someone.

    Also these gentile custodians of the NT gave a ridiculous interpretation of Mary’s question to the angel (Lk 1:34). They have her saying that she does not know how she could get pregnant in the future because currently she is a virgin!

    And supposedly Matthew misquoted Isaiah’s prophecy and therefore has Jesus fulfilling a prophecy that never was.

    I could go on, but to cut a long story short, Matthew and Luke said nothing about a virgin birth. What they did say was that Joseph was not Jesus’ father. Luke 3:23, when translated as Erasmus did, names Heli as the father of Jesus.

    For those interested in looking at these points discussed in more depth, might I suggest –…