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Charity concerned as parents turn away from Bible stories

Less children are reading the Bible or learning the stories inside according to a new survey that reveals a growing generation gap in Bible literacy across in Britain.

According to research by YouGov and the Bible Society, almost three in 10 children are unaware that the story of the Nativity comes from the Bible, and many others do not identify Adam and Eve or Noah's Ark as biblical tales.

The 'Pass It On' report was based on a poll of 800 children aged eight to 15 and about 1,100 parents.

It's now calling on parents to keep the Bible alive for future generations.

Despite declining readership, 43% of parents surveyed think it is important for their child to have read, seen or heard Bible stories because they provide values for a good life.

Similarly, 40% think they are important to our history and culture and a third say they are classic stories that stand the test of time.

Just 12% of parents surveyed believed that was it was not important for children to read, see or hear Bible stories.

However, polled just a few weeks after Christmas, almost one in three children did not identify the Nativity as a story from the Bible, including 35% of 15 year olds; this rises to 36% for The Good Samaritan, 41% for Samson Delilah and well over half, 59%, for David Goliath and Jonah the Whale.

Even for some of the best known Bible stories, 1 in 5 did not select Noah's Ark as a Bible story, while a similar proportion (19%) did not choose Adam Eve.

By contrast 1 in 10 believe that King Midas and Icarus appear in the Bible.

Ben Whitnell from the Bible Society tells Premier's Des Busteed it's unclear why there's been a downward trend.

Even among adults, there is a notable decline in Bible readership through the ages, with two thirds of all parents admitting to reading, listening to or watching Bible stories in school.

But this varies from 56% of 25 to 34 year olds, rising to 79% of those aged 55 or over.

Similarly, for those that think it's appropriate for children to learn Bible stories, only half of 25 to 34 year olds think it's appropriate for teachers to read them to their child; rising to 61% of 35 to 44 year olds, 79% of 45 to 54 year olds and 83% of those aged 55 or over.

Alan Charter from Scripture Union told Premier's News Hour that he would like to see the schools doing more to promote the Bible:

In a foreword to the report, Bishop of London Dr Richard Chartres said sharing Bible stories "is as vital now as it has ever been".

"Too few children have the opportunity to hear and reflect on what this life-changing book contains," he said.

"Even those that do when they are young often take its awesome stories for granted when they become adults.

"There is work to be done."

The Bible can be found in over half of homes in England and Wales while approximately 100 million are sold worldwide every year.

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