A new poll conducted by the Bible Society reveals that more than half of the adults who responded believe “The Hunger Games” are biblical and one in three say “Harry Potter” could be a storyline from the sacred text.
“While these statistics may appear surprising at first glance, they are symptomatic of the fact that many children indicate they have never read, seen or even heard these stories,” the poll of respondents from the United Kingdom explained.
Of the parents questioned, 46 percent did not recognize that the account of Noah’s Ark comes from the Bible, according to the results of the January survey of 800 children ages eight to 15 and 1,000 parents.
The survey was taken in preparation for the launch of the organization’s “Pass It On” campaign which is intended to raise the level of knowledge about the Bible.
“We have produced this report to examine the current reading habits and preferences of parents and children and whether they shared our view of the importance of the Bible and its stories,” wrote James Catford, group chief executive for the society.
“The findings give plenty of food for thought and we hope will stimulate debate about the value of reading Bible stories with children,” he said.
He noted more than 43 percent of parents feel it is important for kids to have read, heard or seen Bible stories.
“But it also revealed that three in 10 secondary school pupils, aged 12 to 15, did not realize the Nativity was from the Bible,” he said.
The study revealed one-third of the parents “were unsure or did not recognize the stories of David and Goliath and Adam and Eve as being from the Bible.
But 27 percent thought the storyline from “Superman” was or could be in the Bible.
Likewise with the “Da Vinci Code.”
“The signs are that future knowledge of these classic stories is unlikely to improve unless something is done, with just 17 percent of parents saying they thought their child had read, seen or heard the parable of the Good Samaritan, rising to 22 percent for David and Goliath, 31 percent of Adam and Eve and a better, but still less than half, 47 percent for Noah’s Ark,” the report said.
But should children know the stories?
The poll showed 40 percent of parents say they are important to history and culture, and about the same number say they are classics that stand the test of time.
It noted that even 10 percent of non-Christian parents of young children read Bible stories to their kids daily.
And in this day of fear on the part of schools to even mention the Bible, significant numbers of parents say it’s appropriate for teachers to read them to class. Among 25-34-year-old parents, that number is 50 percent, but it rises with each advancing age group to 83 percent of those parents age 55 and over.
But it also shows fewer children read Bible stories for themselves.
“No two families are the same, but our research indicates some of the reasons that parents are not reading to their children as much as they might like,” the report said.
One is competition with media, from television to video games and more.
“Children have access to a staggering amount of information at the touch of their fingertips. Yet, while digital devices are growing in popularity, 82 percent of children still like to read stories more traditionally in a book,” the study said.
“At Bible Society we embrace positive use of technology. That’s why as part of the ‘Pass It On’ campaign we will be launching a dedicated Bible Bedtime App, an interactive app parents can use when reading Bible stories to their children,” the report said.
But the danger signs are clear, officials note.
“While millions of people in Britain and around the world believe in the value Bible stories bring to society, little is being done in our homes or schools to keep them alive for future generations. … It is time we were all reminded that, to keep this classic book alive for future generations, there is only one solution. We must use it or lose it.”
For the survey, the Bible and other stories were described without the names of their key players. Adam and Eve, for example, were described this way: “A couple’s lives are ruined when a talking snake persuades them to eat something they were warned to leave alone.”