Roughly one out of six Canadians — and one out of eight Americans — believe that Jesus faked his death on the cross, got married, and had a family, according to a poll conducted last week for CanWest News Service. Curiously, the region with the highest rate of belief in this theory — a whopping 22% — is Alberta, which is often described as Canada’s version of Texas, because of its ranches, its oil industry, and its Bible-belt religiosity. The story that announced this poll appears in different forms in today’s National Post and yesterday’s Edmonton Journal. Here’s an excerpt:
Andrew Grenville, the polling firm’s senior vice-president, said he was shocked that many Canadians believe the death of Jesus was faked. He said the number was particularly surprising considering only 10 per cent of Canadians identify themselves as atheist or agnostic.
“The fact that so many people embrace this belief that has been popularized in The Da Vinci Code, I found shocking, frankly,” Grenville said.
“I would have expected a lot of people to say Jesus never existed, or Jesus was just some guy, but to say the death was faked and he had kids is a very firm position to take. It speaks to the power of storytelling.”
Grenville said he believes it is the first time the question has been asked in a poll, so there is no way of determining whether views have changed on the question. . . .
The poll revealed a clear division between Christians and non-Christians, with only eight per cent of Christians accepting the conspiracy compared to 31 per cent of non-Christians. . . .
FWIW, in fairness to Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, while the notion that Jesus faked his death and raised a family does go back to Da Vinci Code source materials like the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Brown himself did indicate during a recent court case in London that he actually believes in the Crucifixion, and possibly even the Resurrection. He apparently just doesn’t think those things are incompatible with the notion that Jesus had a family.
So in other words, it may be that a big chunk of the North American public is even loopier than the novels of Dan Brown.
APR 18 UPDATE: I just remembered, I mentioned a similar item ten months ago, which reported that over 5 million Canadians have read the book, and of those, roughly 1.7 million believe its claims. That comes to only about 5% of the population. So why does the more recent poll have such higher figures? Presumably because it includes people who haven’t read the book, but have absorbed its ideas via friends who have and the media.
Most striking of all, a press release announcing the earlier poll indicated that Albertans were among the least likely to have read The Da Vinci Code; only 9% of Albertans had read the book, while 19% of Ontarians and 18% of Quebeckers and British Columbians had read it. Yet the new poll indicates that Albertans are more likely to believe the book’s outlandish claims! It almost gives one hope that the easiest way to debunk the book is to get people to actually read it and see it for the silly thing that it is. Almost.