by ROWENA OREJANA
More than one-third of New Zealand children have never read, heard or seen the story of Jesus’ birth.
This alarming fact was revealed in Nielsen research called 2015 Biblical Literacy Survey undertaken by the Bible
Society New Zealand, a Christian organisation dedicated to bringing God’s Word into New Zealand homes and spreading
it around the world.
The most well known character from the Bible among New Zealand children is Noah, not Jesus, with 72 per cent saying
they’ve read, seen or heard Noah’s story.
The survey found out that 66 per cent of children can’t recall the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, while 76 per
cent haven’t heard the story of the Good Samaritan.
The research firm undertook the survey via the Survey Sampling International panel.
It interviewed 401 parents of children aged between 3 and 16, and 300 children aged from 8 to 15 years. Nielsen
said the survey was nationwide and that the samples were weighted by age and region to represent the population.
It found that while most (64%) of New Zealand children know the story of Jesus’ birth, only slightly over half
(51%) know the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Ninety per cent of Christian children and 47 per cent of non-Christian children know the Nativity story. Eighty-five per cent of Christian children said they knew the story of Christ’s death and Resurrection.
The survey showed that 18 per cent of the parents who responded said they could not recall or never learned about
the Bible as a child. It also found that 21 per cent of children surveyed said the same.
In view of the results, the Bible Society has launched “Pass It On”, a campaign that aims to make Bible storybooks available to 4000 families.
Society programme director Stephen Opie said it considered the campaign could be one of the most critical it had
undertaken. “It is about helping secure the future of the Bible in New Zealand by ensuring it is given to, shared with and enjoyed by the next generation,” he said.
Forty-six per cent of parents surveyed thought Bible stories are important for their children because they
(Bible stories) provide good values for life.“ With 40 per cent of children saying they’d like to hear, see or watch more Bible stories, it’s clear there is a real appetite among children for more of this book,” added Mr Opie.
The Bible Society is also developing its first range of Bible apps for tablets to suit different age groups. The Nielsen research that found children would be more likely to read Bible stories on computers and tablets.
The campaign aims to reach 19,000 Kiwi children.
by ROWENA OREJANA