- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

God’s creation of the Earth, Noah and the flood, Moses at the Red Sea: These pivotal stories from the Old Testament still resonate deeply with most Americans, who take the accounts literally rather than as a symbolic lesson.

An ABC News poll released Sunday found that 61 percent of Americans believe the account of creation in the Bible’s book of Genesis is “literally true” rather than a story meant as a “lesson.”

Sixty percent believe in the story of Noah’s ark and a global flood, while 64 percent agree that Moses parted the Red Sea to save fleeing Jews from their Egyptian captors.

The poll, with a margin of error of 3 percentage points, was conducted Feb. 6 to 10 among 1,011 adults.

“These are surprising and reassuring figures — a positive sign in a postmodern world that seemed bent on erasing faith from the public square in recent years,” said the Rev. Charles Nalls of Christ the King, a Catholic-Anglican church in the District.

“This poll tells me that America is reading the Bible more than we thought. There had been a tendency to decry or discount Bible literacy among the faithful,” he said.

“But this indicates a strong alliance among Americans with the inerrant word of God, as opposed to simply the inspired word of God, as viewed in the context of faith tradition,” Father Nalls said.

The levels of belief in the stories, however, differed among Christians.

The poll found that 75 percent of Protestants believed in the story of creation, 79 percent in the Red Sea account and 73 percent in Noah and the ark.

Among evangelical Protestants, those figures were 87 percent, 91 percent and 87 percent, respectively. Among Catholics, they were 51 percent, 50 percent and 44 percent.

The stories still proved somewhat compelling among those who had “no religion.” A quarter said they believed in Creation, almost a third said Moses parted the Red Sea, and 29 percent believe in Noah.

In anticipation of the Feb. 25 release of Mel Gibson’s controversial movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” the poll also found that 80 percent of Americans do not feel that the Jews of today bear responsibility for the death of Jesus Christ, against 8 percent who said they did.

Some critics contend that Mr. Gibson’s film unfairly portrays Jews, although he removed a scene which depicts a crowd asking that the death of Jesus “be on us, and on our children,” a phrase from the Book of Matthew.

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