London - Millions of children are growing up unaware that stories such as the Nativity or the tale of David and Goliath come from the Bible - because it is being shunned in schools and homes.
Almost one in three Britons didn’t know the where the story of the birth of Jesus could be found, despite being asked just after Christmas.
This rose to 36 percent for the tale of the Good Samaritan and 41 percent for Samson and Delilah.
Nearly two-thirds - 59 percent - had no idea the stories of David and Goliath and Jonah and the Whale were from the Bible.
Yet one in ten thought the stories of King Midas and Icarus - both from classical Greek myth rather than the Bible - appeared in the Old or New Testament.
The Bible Society, which commissioned the report, said the statistics were “symptomatic of the fact that many children indicate they have never read, seen or ever heard these stories”.
About 54 percent of children were never read Bible stories by adults, it found.
Yet 86 percent of parents said they had been regularly told about key passages when they were growing up.
The growing indifference to the scriptures echoes the shrinking congregations reported by the Church of England.
Usual Sunday attendance was 807 472 in 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, half the 1.6 million in 1968.
Campaigners fear the religion is in a state of permanent retreat. Recent census figures have recorded a decline of more than ten percent in just a decade in the number of people who regard themselves as Christian.
In November, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey said the Church of England was just ‘one generation away from extinction’.
He added: “If we do not invest in young people there is going to be no one in the future.”
The survey of more than 5 700 adults and 804 children found a quarter of children had never heard of the Nativity or Noah’s Ark and two-fifths were completely unaware of Adam and Eve and The Crucifixion.
Two-thirds hadn’t come across the Creation story, three-quarters had never been told about Daniel in the lion’s den and more than nine in ten didn’t know about King Solomon.
Parents also showed embarrassing gaps in knowledge, with 46 percent wrongly identifying a Harry Potter plot line as coming from the Bible.
Yet nearly half of adults think Bible stories provide “good values for life” and 40 percent say they are important to our history and culture.
More than a third stated they were simply “classic stories that stand the test of time”.
Former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, who described the report as “disturbing”, said: “It’s essential for us to keep these stories alive, regardless of our religious beliefs (or lack of them).
“They are indispensable to our understanding of the past and the enrichment of our present.”
Bible Society chief executive James Catford added: “Our research indicates that the Bible’s brilliant and engaging stories could be lost to future generations unless people take action.
“The Bible enriches life and every child should have the opportunity to experience it.” - Daily Mail