The proper role of faith in a pluralistic society has long been debated and always comes up in conversation as a presidential election approaches. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty recently conducted a survey to gauge public opinion.
“The Religious Freedom Index is designed to give a 30,000-foot view of changes in American attitudes on religious liberty by surveying a nationally representative sample of 1,000 American adults,” the report said.
Among the key findings:
- Consensus in a Polarized Society: Even after decades of religious freedom being pulled into the culture wars, Americans accept and support a broad interpretation of religious freedom. Contrary to popular narratives of increased tribalism and polarization, Americans support a culture of accommodation for minority faith practices. After years of religious freedom being pushed to the center of polarizing debates, rather than reveal a partisan 50-50 split, the Index scored in the upper third on the scale of favorability toward religious liberty. Across dimensions, public support was well above 70 percent on many issues, indicating that the concept of religious freedom maintains its place as a core American cultural value.
- Preference for a Hands-off Government Approach: Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of the government penalizing groups and individuals for living out their religious beliefs. Respondents overwhelmingly supported the freedom to believe and to practice beliefs free from persecution by others. Eighty-seven percent supported the right to practice religion in daily life without facing discrimination or harm. Notably, respondents not only supported freedom from persecution from other individuals but also supported freedom from government intrusion into religious practices in contexts beyond daily life.
- Support for a Culture of Accommodation: On a question that included examples of practices from a wide range of religions, including Sikhs, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many other, 80 percent of respondents expressed support for the freedom to practice such beliefs in general, and 74 percent supported the expression of similar practices in the workplace.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice