Beliefs Culture

Survey finds British children and adults are biblically illiterate

A man reading the Bible in church.

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) Three out of 10 British children have next to no understanding of the Bible and their parents aren’t that knowledgeable, either.

A man reading the Bible in church.

Photo courtesy of Magdalena Kucova via Shutterstock

A man reading the Bible in church.

A survey released Friday (Feb. 7) by the Bible Society, founded in 1804 to spread knowledge about the Scriptures, said most boys and girls aged 8 to 15 years old did not know that Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark or Jesus’ birth were rooted in the Bible.

More than a third of the 800 children surveyed did not know that David and Goliath and the story of the Good Samaritan were Bible tales.

One in 10 mistakenly thought the story about King Midas and Icarus was in the Bible.

But not just children are Bible ignorant.

Nearly half of the 1,100 parents surveyed failed to identify Noah’s Ark as a story from the Bible. More than one-third thought a Harry Potter plotline was or might have come from the Bible.

The Bible Society published the research to mark the launch of its “Pass It On” campaign, which aims to encourage parents to keep the Bible alive by passing its stories on to their children.

In a foreword to the report, Richard Chartres, the Anglican bishop of London, said sharing Bible stories “is as vital now as it has ever been.” He added: “There is work to be done.”


About the author

Trevor Grundy


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  • Knowledge of Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, King Midas or many of the other people and stories from the scriptures are not important.

    Here’s what’s “important” from the Bible —

    1. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way……….Romans 14:13

    2. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God…..Romans 15:7

    3. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love…..Ephesians 4:2

    4. Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble…..1 Peter 3:8

    5. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…………Philippians 2:3

    6. Be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone…….Titus 3:2

    7. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven………..Luke 6:37

    8. Above all, LOVE EACH OTHER DEEPLY, because love covers over a multitude of sins………..1 Peter 4:8

    And so on……

  • In another generation or two America will hopefully be the same. A few more generations from there, and hopefully all religion will be looked upon the same way we now look upon the 2000 or so past religions that have sought to interfere with with logic and reason in the thoughts of man.

    Religion is poison!!

  • Why does the bible offend to this point because it teaches us how to live in holiness the only people that want to do away with gods word is the ones who are living in sin and don’t want to hear about it don’t want to know but Iv got news one day you will stand before a holy and a Ritcheouse god and then be judged for every word if your fine with going to hell for the rest of eternity then ignore me but if you want to escape this punishment I suggest you get a bible and read all of it because you cannot be saved if you don’t know what your getting saved from only in the bible will you find answers to every aspect of today’s life only in the bible will you find out about sin and hell and most importantly the saviour who loves us so Mutch he died in were place so that we do not need to go to this place 🙂 #donotbedeceived

  • Alastair, So what you’re saying is that your god, who you think created hell, also created man in a manner that allowed man to commit “sin”, then created a son so he could be sacrificed to “pay” for the “sin” of man with his life, so man could be “saved” from going to the hell your god created?

    Your god sounds like a lunatic, and no one should want to worship for “all eternity” laying at the feet of this “god” like a dog.

    I’ve read your book, studied it in fact, and found many parts lacking in not only reality, but in what should be the morals of man. You can choose to spend your life doing the things your book tells you will let you live forever, or you can live this life in a manner that allows the human race to continue on as long as possible. I choose the latter.

    Pay attention to the children Alastair, they will show you the way.

    Religion is poison!!

  • Midas is not in the Bible, and I’d argue that l;earning mroe than just a handful of platitude verses is important. Withotu context, the veres you mentioned mean nothing. History, and the rest of the Philosophy in the Scriptures, must also be known.

  • Please can the idea of Christaisn beign Biblically Illiterat on Kidnness, it gets old. I’ve been treted far mroe harshly from Atheists/

  • The Irony is, your “Logic and Reason VS Religion” Dogma is itaelf nothign mroe than a Reigious Ideology. Religion is not the enemy of Logic and Reason, and often thsoe who tote the end fo Relgiion as a good thing as Reason Triumphs over it just identify their own beelifs with Logic and Reason, as if disagreement means beign Irrational. Its just another way to shout “Heretic” nd to make yoru own beleifs unquestionable.

    There is nothign Rational abotu Modern Secular Ideals.

  • Anythikgn can be made to soudn like lLunacy if you present it in a way that diliberatley cast it in that light.

    The “Relgiion is poison” rhetoric is gettign opld. Just because you can misrepresent what Christians beleive by substituting a Caricature of it dfoesn’t mean you’ve made a valid point.