Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
Doth bring redeeming grace
—God Rest Ye Merry, Gentleman
This week, approximately nine in 10 Americans will celebrate Christmas, in a wide variety of ways. Among Christians, the two groups who share the most in their approach to Christmas celebrations are white and minority evangelical Protestants. These two groups stand apart even from other Christians in that they are significantly more likely to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, to read the Christmas story from the Bible, and to believe that the nativity narrative—including the Virgin birth, the angels communicating with shepherds, the appearance of the star of Bethlehem, and the arrival of wise men from the East—is historically accurate. Majorities of white and minority Protestants also report that they attend religious services on Christmas Day, where they will hear the same stories, light the same Advent candles, and sing the same carols.
These shared Christmas practices are a part of the remarkably similar religious worlds of black and white evangelical Protestants. Black Protestants and white evangelical Protestants are the two groups with the highest church-attendance rates in the country. While less than four in 10 (38 percent) Americans overall report attending religious services weekly or more often, 58 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 55 percent of black Protestants attend church at least weekly. White evangelical Protestants and black Protestants also share a particularly literal approach to the Bible. Among the general public, approximately one-third (35 percent) believe the Bible is the literal word of God, but about six in 10 white evangelical Protestants (61 percent) and black Protestants (57 percent) hold a literal view of the Bible. These two groups also share a belief in a personal God, an emphasis on individual salvation, and religious architecture that emphasizes the centrality of the pulpit over the altar.