Less than half of British Christians believe Jesus died on the cross for their sins

Ruben Enaje, 58, who is portraying Jesus Christ for the 32nd time, grimaces in pain after being nailed on a wooden cross during a Good Friday crucifixion re-enactment in Cutud village, Pampanga province, north of Manila, Philippines March 30, 2018.Reuters

Only 46 per cent of British Christians believe Jesus died on the cross to save them from their sins, a new poll has found.

The survey of 2,042 British adults was carried out by ComRes on behalf of the BBC and asked participants, 'To what extent, if at all, do you agree or disagree that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected at Easter so that you can be forgiven for your sins?'

Out of the respondents who identified as Christian, a quarter said they neither disagreed nor agreed, while 17 per cent of Christians said they did not agree.

The results were released at the start of Holy Week, when millions of Christians around the world will be preparing to commemorate the cross and resurrection of Jesus over Easter weekend.

The BBC also quizzed people on their views around forgiveness and whether there were some actions that were too awful to forgive.

Respondents were asked to what extent, if at all, they would forgive someone who committed: murder, child abuse, sexual abuse, infidelity, verbal abuse, abuse on social media, lying, stealing, swearing and discrimination.

People were the most prepared to overlook swearing, with 39 per cent of respondents saying there was no need to forgive this, while half said it was easy to forgive.

At the other end of the spectrum was child abuse, with 85 per cent of all respondents deeming this impossible to forgive.  Sexual abuse and murder were close behind at 79 per cent and 73 per cent respectively.

The poll also revealed that only a minority regularly attend a religious service.  Asked on average how often they attended a religious service, excluding marriages and funerals, nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of all respondents answered 'never'.