by the Barna Group
April 1, 2015—Jesus Christ remains a central figure and perennial person of interest in the American religious landscape—especially in the days leading up to Easter. And 2015 is no exception.
On Sunday, March 29, National Geographic Channel premiered its adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s book Killing Jesus to 3.7 million viewers—the channel’s biggest audience in history. CNN’s Finding Jesus miniseries has also sustained impressive viewership. Google searches of Jesus Christ climbed by 53 percent in the week leading up to Easter—a likely result of both seasonal television programming and the approaching holiday.
But what do Americans believe about Jesus? Who do they say he is? Here are five popular American perceptions of Jesus, based on recent Barna Group research.
1. The Vast Majority of Americans Believe Jesus Was a Real Person
Jesus Christ has made a cameo in hundreds of pop culture places, from The Da Vinci Code toSouth Park. But, although the character of Jesus has certainly been fictionalized, satirized and mythologized over the centuries, the vast majority of Americans still maintain that he was a historical figure. More than nine out of 10 adults say Jesus Christ was a real person who actually lived (92%). While the percentages dip slightly among younger generations—only 87 percent of Millennials agree Jesus actually lived—Americans are still very likely to believe the man, Jesus Christ, once walked the earth.
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