Survey says most Americans don’t believe religious liberty under attack
A new survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute reveals that nearly 40 percent of Americans believe their religious freedom is under attack.
Of the 39 percent who think their religious freedoms are under attack, 23 percent said they felt that way because they thought religion was being removed from the public square; 20 percent felt that the government was overreaching its bounds when it comes to religious life.
Political affiliation and age seemed to play a role in a person’s beliefs as 72 percent of those who described themselves as Tea Party members, 60 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of senior citizens believed that their religious liberty was being threatened.
In contrast, 69 percent of those who self-identified as Democrats, 58 percent of Independents and 73 percent of Millennials did not believe that their religious freedom was under attack.
When Americans who believed that their religious liberty was being threatened were asked to explain in their own words how their religious liberty was threatened, only six percent mentioned the recent debate around the national healthcare contraception coverage mandate.
White evangelical Protestants (61 percent) heavily believed their religious liberties are threatened in America, while majorities of Catholics, minority Protestant groups, white mainline Protestants and the unaffiliated did not believe so.
Other findings from the survey include:
Roughly six-in-10 Americans say that publicly held corporations (62 percent) and religiously affiliated hospitals (57 percent) should be required to provide employees with health care plans that cover contraception.
Fifty-four percent of the surveyed Americans believe that religiously affiliated colleges (54 percent), privately owned small businesses (53 percent) and religiously affiliated social service agencies (52 percent) should be required to provide employees with health care plans that cover contraception.
About four-in-10 (42 percent) Americans say churches and other places of worship should be required to provide this coverage to their employees.
More than six-in-10 (63 percent) Americans say that religiously affiliated agencies that receive federal funding should not be able to refuse to place children with qualified gay and lesbian couples. About one-third of Americans say agencies that receive taxpayer money should be able to refuse.
A slim majority (52 percent) of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry and 44 percent oppose. The survey also found religious liberty concerns were active among a subset of those who oppose same-sex marriage.
When Americans who initially oppose same-sex marriage are asked whether they would support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry if the law guaranteed that no church or congregation would be required to perform marriages for gay and lesbian couples, support for allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry increases 6 points, from 52 percent to 58 percent.
The results of the survey were based on bilingual telephone interviews conducted from March 7-11.
The interviews were conducted among a random sample of 1,007 adults 18 years of age or older in the continental United States.
The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.5 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.