That's probably not a fair summary of the survey in question, but hear this Londonista out.
A London church commissioned a survey of people's religious beliefs, with the results released (exclusively it seems) to the BBC. The Beeb reported, with a surprised look on its face, that 70% of people don't believe that the nativity happened in the way portrayed by small kids in church halls at this time of year.
Far be it from us to question the wisdom of the BBC, but we are more shocked that 30% of people believe that it did. So there was a virgin birth, a flimsy manger made of painted cardboard, a stuffed donkey (from Benidorm), an old doll (from someone's mum), your mates in a ripped up bedsheet as three kings (what's myrrh anyway?), some crappy bits of straw (nicked from a local field) and a church-ful of glowing parents squashed into pews, all willfully ignoring the mind-curdlingly intense screams from the baby at the back.
Now then - most of society hardly ever sees the inside of a church; and most of those that do, go only once or twice a year. So we are genuinely shocked that the '30%' figure, that believes the nativity, is so high. This may be influenced, of course, by who commissioned the survey. Over time, society is becoming increasingly secular, with church losing market share to other Sunday activities - spending time with family and friends; DIY; doing the washing; going out for a run; talking about politics; sleeping; and even - *shudder* - watching re-runs of 'Friends'.
Almost all of us have issues with the small number of dedicated fundamentalists that ram their beliefs down our throats - those brandishing loudspeakers or ramming pamphlets in your face at Oxford Circus; those that just launched a legal bid to nullify 18,000 marriages in the US. (On a side-note, how on earth can they pretend that destroying the security of these families is any way 'pro-family'?) But at least they have read up on their subject, done their research and spent hours and months pondering these issues before signing up to their particular views.
But the group identified in this survey are very different. These are people who bow to peer pressure, who never pray, who have never read a bible in their lives - but who pop to church once a year to give the appearance of being Christian, to assuage their guilt and then tick boxes in ignorance-checking surveys like this one.
Is this a reality TV thing - Do these people watch the nativity and believe it must be based on a documentary? Do they think the same about panto? Do they still believe in Father Christmas? Do they think that the characters in Sex And The City exist? Do they have the vote? Do they think that the Archangel Gabriel lives on the top of Christmas trees? Would they think this classic Kath and Kim moment is blasphemous?
*Goes off for a lie-in in a dark-room*
Festive Factoid For You To Baffle Your Family Around The Christmas Dinner Table - Father Christmas would need to visit 832 homes per second to deliver presents to all the children in the world. (That alone would save the Sherry industry from the credit crunch, no?)
Nativity image from deadheaduk's Flickrstream under the Creative Commons License