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The virgin birth of Jesus

Beliefs of Christian clergy & public.
Alternate explanations of Jesus birth.

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Beliefs of Christian clergy:

We have found three polls of Christian ministers, pastors, and priests. For some reason, data is more easily obtained from the UK than from the U.S.:

bullet 1998: A poll of 7,441 Protestant clergy in the U.S. showed a wide variation in belief. The following ministers did not believe in the virgin birth:
bullet American Lutherans 19%
bullet American Baptists 34%
bullet Episcopalians 44%
bullet Presbyterians 49%
bullet Methodists 60% 1
bullet 1999: A poll of 103 Roman Catholic priests, Anglican priests, and Protestant ministers/pastors in the UK found that about 25% did not believe in the virgin birth. Yet, 97% of the same group do not believe the world was created in six days, and 80% do not believe in the literal existence of Adam and Eve. 3
bullet 2002: Another poll of 140 Church of England (Anglican) clergy found that 27% do not believe in the virgin birth. The pollsters reported:

"...one Hampshire vicar was typical: 'There was nothing special about his birth or his childhood - it was his adult life that was extraordinary....I have a very traditional bishop and this is one of those topics I do not go public on. I need to keep the job I have got.' John Roberts, spokesperson for the Lord's Day Observance Society, said: 'If you take away the virgin birth you might as well take away the entire Christian message. The miracle of the Christian faith is that God came down to us. If you lose that miracle you lose the resurrection and everything else'." 6

bullet 2004: A poll of ministers of the Church of Scotland found that 37% do not believe in the virgin birth. Many believe that the virgin birth should be interpreted metaphorically rather than as a description of an actual event." Times Online reported that:  

"There was a geographical split with most ministers in the Highlands and islands favouring a literal interpretation while those in the central belt were more sceptical." 8

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Beliefs of the general U.S. public:

There is a massive gap between the beliefs of mainline and liberal clergy and their congregations:

bullet 1994 to 2003: The Harris Poll has conducted many opinion polls to determine the religious beliefs of American adults. The following do believe in the virgin birth:
 
Date of poll All adults Christians Non-Christians Men Women Republicans Democrats Independents
1994 78%              
1998-JUL 83% 91% 47%          
2000-SEP 2 82% 91% 43%    

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