A poll of Christians, carried out for Palm Sunday, found 23 per cent did not “believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead” at all.
However, amongst those who considered themselves regular churchgoers – attending at least one service a month – only five per cent said they did not believe in it at all, with 57 percent saying they did believe in the miracle.
The survey of 2,010 people, conducted by ComRes over ten days by telephone for the BBC, also found 46 per cent of the public in general believe in some form of life after death, including a fifth on non-religious people.
Edouard Manet's painting of the death of Christ
Of those people surveyed, nine percent of non-religious people believe in the resurrection, with one per cent saying they believe it in a literal sense.
A fifth of those non-religious people believed in some kind of life after death while nearly one in 10 of non-believers said while they did believe the Easter story it had “some content that should not be taken literally”.
The survey found women were more likely to believe in life after death than men – 56 per cent of women surveyed compared with 36 per cent of men.
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The Bishop of Manchester, the Right Reverend David Walker, said: "This important and welcome survey proves that many British people, despite not being regular churchgoers, hold core Christian beliefs.
"Alongside them it finds surprisingly high levels of religious belief among those who follow no specific religion, often erroneously referred to as secularists or atheists.
"This demonstrates how important beliefs remain across our society and hence the importance both of religious literacy and of religion having a prominent place in public discourse."
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Leo Tolstoy's painting showing Jesus wearing crown of thorns
Reverend Dr Lorraine Cavanagh is the acting general secretary for Modern Church, which promotes liberal Christian theology.
She said: "I think [people answering the survey] are being asked to believe in the way they might have been asked to believe when they were at Sunday school.
Followers of Christ discover his body has gone from his tomb
"You're talking about adults here. And an adult faith requires that it be constantly questioned, constantly re-interpreted, which incidentally is very much what Modern Church is actually about.
"Science, but also intellectual and philosophical thought, has progressed. It has a trickle-down effect on just about everybody's lives.
Paolo Veronese's The Resurrection of Christ
"So to ask an adult to believe in the resurrection the way they did when they were at Sunday school simply won't do and that's true of much of the key elements of the Christian faith."