Half Britain believes in Resurrection By Jonathan Petre THE TELEGRAPH Nearly half of the population believes that Christ rose from the dead, according to a survey. The findings challenge the widespread view that an increasingly secular society sees Easter as little more than an opportunity to indulge a taste for chocolate - even though relatively few will go to church. More surprisingly, the figures suggest that belief in the Resurrection may actually be increasing. A poll in 2001, by the Fortean Times newspaper, found that a third of people agreed with the Biblical account of the event, and a European Values study in 1990 put the figure at 32 per cent. But almost half the respondents in the new survey, 47 per cent, said that they believed that Christ rose from the dead. More than a third, 36 per cent, said they did not, and 15 per cent said that they did not know. The survey found that women are more devout than men, with 49 per cent agreeing that Christ rose from the dead compared with 43 per cent of men. Peter Brierley, the director of Christian Research, said that the figures would cheer Church leaders, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who has orthodox views on the Resurrection. "They add strength to the feeling that Britain is still a Christian country, as evidenced by the 72 per cent who said they were Christian in the 2001 census earlier this year," said Dr Brierley, a former Government statistician. "The actual percentage is higher than in some recent polls, but the proportion who hold the not unconnected belief in life after death has also been increasing over the past few years." Canon Tom Wright, a theologian and the next Bishop of Durham, who has written a book on the Resurrection, welcomed the figures, but added that he would like to know how people understood the belief. "Some people confuse the Resurrection with life after death, but they are not the same thing," he said. "It would be interesting to know why many of these people will not attend a church over Easter." The survey, carried out last week among a representative sample of 1,003 people by Nunwood Consulting, a market research company, also found that the vast majority correctly identified the religious significance of Easter. More than two thirds, 70 per cent, said that Easter was inspired by Christ's death and Resurrection. Ten per cent said they thought Easter marked the ascension of Christ into Heaven, four per cent thought that it marked the Last Supper and three per cent Jesus's birth. The best informed group was aged between 45 and 54. There is a widening gap between people's beliefs in the central tenets of Christianity and their churchgoing habits. There were just 1.13 million Easter Sunday communicants in Church of England parishes in 2001, less than two per cent of the population.