Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

As the most significant date in the Christian calendar looms; a national survey of over 1,000 Australians shows nearly a third fully believe Jesus rose from the dead (31%), and a further 1 in 5 (21%) believe this to some extent.

The research, commissioned by Olive Tree Media, also showed 83% of Australians believe that Jesus existed and 35% believe that he was the Son of God. The findings also showed Australians to be surprisingly warm towards Christianity, with a good knowledge of what Jesus taught.

While Australia is often viewed as having a secular culture, almost 3 in 5 are “warm” towards Christianity (58%) and 1 in 3 (33%) “Consider myself a Christian”. However, for every person who was not religious and now is (4%), there are seven who were religious but are no longer (29%).

Mark McCrindle, of McCrindle Research, who conducted the research said, “Australians have a surprising acceptance of the miraculous with almost 1 in 3 (31%) fully believing that Jesus rose from the dead and 1 in 4 (27%) fully believing that Jesus walked on water. Interestingly another 21% “partly believe” that Jesus walked on water and 19% “partly believe” that Jesus was born of a virgin, however, interpreting what this means for these Australians is perplexing!”

Jesus’ key teachings are recognised by many Australians, with 62% identifying Jesus as having said, “I have come that you may have life” and “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”. Humorously, 1 in 5 (21%) believed that Jesus said, “God helps those who help themselves” (popularised by Benjamin Franklin) and 6% believed that he said, “Such is Life” (Ned Kelly’s famous last words).

McCrindle said, “While the ABS Census data shows that more than 60% of Australians record their religion as Christianity, there are some significant gaps in our knowledge, with less than half of Australians able to place Jesus correctly in the First Century (42%), 1 in 4 (28%) having “no idea” and another 1 in 4 (27%) stating that he lived “in ancient times BC (Before Christ)”! Just 46% knew that Jesus’ life was most fully recorded in the New Testament of the Bible, while a further 33% believed it was recorded in the Old Testament.” 

The research supporting this report was conducted by McCrindle Research in October 2011 and included a nationally representative survey of 1,094 Australians, as well as focus groups across three generations. The research was commissioned by Olive Tree Media.