A new study from The Barna Group shows that Americans recognize Easter as a religious holiday, but few can correctly identify its meaning.

A new study from The Barna Group shows that Americans recognize Easter as a religious holiday, but few can correctly identify its meaning.

The study's findings, released March 15, asked a representative sample of American adults to describe what Easter means to them personally. The study also asked how many adults are willing to invite an unchurched friend or relative to church on Easter weekend.

In the free-response survey, researchers found that the majority of religious Americans said that Easter is a sacred holiday. "Two out of every three Americans (67 percent) mention some type of theistic religious element," the survey said. Only 42 percent of Americans linked Easter to the Christian faith's belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. "One out of every 50 adults (2 percent) said that they would describe Easter as the most important holiday of their faith," the survey found.

A common joke about three blondes who make it to heaven and aren't able to get in until they correctly identify certain holidays seems to have some validity since many religious Americans aren't able to correctly identify the Christian holiday. In the study, 2 percent of Americans said that Easter was about "the birth of Christ"; another 2 percent said that it was the "rebirth of Jesus"; and 1 percent said that it was a "celebration of the second coming of Christ." Only 42 percent of Americans said that Easter signified the resurrection of Christ.

Among the non-religious, 13 percent of respondents were not sure how to describe Easter. Eight percent do not celebrate Easter because it is meaningless to them. Non-religious descriptions included "getting friends and family together (4 percent), spring break (3 percent), a symbol of new beginnings, rebirth and renewal (2 percent), a time to dye and hide eggs (2 percent), an event for children to have fun (2 percent), the Easter bunny (1 percent), an occasion that is too commercialized (1 percent), and an opportunity to enjoy food and candy (1 percent).

The study also found that 31 percent of active churchgoers said "they would definitely invite someone they know who does not usually attend a church to accompany them ... on Easter weekend." Churchgoers who correctly identified Easter as the resurrection of Christ were no more likely to invite friends to worship with them on Easter Sunday.

La Junta Tribune-Democrat