By Barney Zwartz; April 7, 2009; source: http://www.theage.com.au/national/australians-not-so-sceptical-about-jesus-survey-finds-20090406-9uuu.html
“MORE than four in 10 Australians who don’t consider themselves “born again” nevertheless believe Jesus rose from the dead, while one in 10 doesn’t believe he even existed.
These are two of the surprising results from an independent survey of 2500 Australians, according to noted author and church historian John Dickson, co-director of the Centre for Public Christianity in Sydney.
The survey, to be released today, showed that 42 per cent of Australians believe Jesus had divine powers and 54 per cent believe he rose from the dead.
But even among those who do not identify as born again, 45 per cent believe in the resurrection. Dr Dickson said this certainly included agnostics and secularists because the total was far higher than the remaining Christians surveyed.
“We are staggered. We thought the survey would show the profound scepticism of Australians,” he said.
“Instead it shows there is a base-level assumption among the Australian public that accepts the Jesus story even if it has no relevance to their lives.”
He said the survey wanted to explore the understanding of non-churchgoers, so the results were produced from those who were non-religious, or from another religion, or who loosely identified with Christianity.
Other odd findings included that 31 per cent of Australians believe Jesus lived BC (that is, “before Christ”, or before he was born) and that 57 per cent knew Easter was connected with the death of Jesus but a far higher 87 per cent of Australians knew it concerned the resurrection. What the missing 30 per cent thought the resurrection meant, if not rising from the dead, was not explored. Another 4 per cent confused Easter with Christmas (and Jesus’ birth).
Reassuringly, 90 per cent of non-born-agains identified Jesus with Christianity rather than other religions, and 60 per cent knew his life was recorded in the New Testament.
Asked was Jesus a real figure, 11 per cent of non-born-agains said no, 39 per cent said yes but without divine powers, and 50 per cent said yes and he had divine powers.”