Massive majorities of Americans across the political spectrum support maximum toleration and accommodation of religious practices in the public and private realms, according to a newly launched annual survey.
The accompanying chart dramatically demonstrates that support for religious freedom is overwhelmingly bipartisan, cutting across the ideological and party spectrums. The yellow areas indicate opposition, while the blue areas represent support for religious freedom.
The 2019 Religious Freedom Index from the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty is a nationally representative survey of 1,000 individuals who were asked a battery of 21 questions designed to measure opinion on six major dimensions of religious freedom in America.
The responses are then compiled into an overall measure, the Religious Freedom Index. The 2019 survey will henceforth be repeated annually with identical wording of the questions, according to Beckett.
The overall index of support for religious freedom in 2019 is 67, with 100 indicating “robust support” of religious freedom and 0 meaning complete opposition.
“After years of religious freedom being pushed to the center of polarizing debates, rather than reveal a partisan 50-50 split, at 67, the Index scored in the upper third on the scale of favorability towards robust religious liberty protections,” Beckett said in a substantial understatement about the results.
“87 percent of the respondents “support the right to practice beliefs in daily life without facing discrimination or harm from others.”
The three overall conclusions shown by the survey, according to Beckett, include:
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.
Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of the government penalizing groups and individuals for living out their religious beliefs.
Examining the data for specific questions within each of the six major dimensions in the survey, however, presents an even more vivid picture of an immensely tolerant and religiously welcoming America.
For example, 87 percent of the respondents “support the right to practice beliefs in daily life without facing discrimination or harm from others.”
That is, whether an individual is a traditional Christian, a follower of Judaism, or a Muslim, Buddhist or any other religion, most Americans back the right to believe or not to believe and to express such views freely and openly.
“63 percent of the respondents “supported the freedom to practice religion in daily life and at work, even when it creates an imposition or inconvenience for others.”
Three-fourths, or 74 percent, of the respondents support religious freedom “when that practice takes place at work.” In fact, 63 percent of the respondents “supported the freedom to practice religion in daily life and at work, even when it creates an imposition or inconvenience for others.”
These and other results from the 2019 Index point to the reality that the view that the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion applies only to the private realm of society is wholly out of touch with this country’s traditions and practice.
These results are especially significant for those working on Capitol Hill for senators, representatives and congressional committees where issues of protecting the First Amendment are a constant concern.
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