Americans Support Religious Expression
Special Report - January 17, 2008
The overwhelming majority of Americans support greater religious freedom in public schools and in public places, according to a new survey released this month from Ellison Research, a Phoenix-based marketing research company. In the national survey of 1,007 Americans, participants were asked whether a variety of scenarios involving public religious expression should be legal or illegal. The survey found that among all American adults in the survey:
90 percent said it should be legal for religious groups to rent public property for meetings if non-religious groups are allowed to do so;
89 percent said public school teachers should be allowed to “permit a moment of silence for prayer or reflection for all students during class time.”
88 percent said public school teachers should be allowed to wear religious symbols to class;
87 percent said that voluntary student-led prayer during public school events, such as football games or graduation ceremonies, should be legal;
83 percent said nativity scene displays on city property should be legal;
79 percent said it should be legal to display the Ten Commandments inside a court building.
Interestingly, the survey also reveals a broad consensus on these issues among religious and non-religious Americans. For example, 92 percent of respondents who attended church regularly supported voluntary student-led prayer at school, compared to 83 percent of respondents who did not attend church regularly. In addition, 94 percent of regular churchgoers said teachers should be allowed to permit a moment of silence during class time, as did 84 percent who do not attend church regularly.
The survey also found agreement on public religious expression among conservatives and liberals. For example, voluntary student-led prayer at public school events was supported by 95 percent of “politically conservative” participants, 90 percent of “self-described moderates,” and 73 percent of “liberals.” The display of nativity scenes on city property was supported by: 88 percent of conservatives, 88 percent of moderates and 70 percent of liberals in the survey.
“Americans clearly come down on the side of freedoms and rights for individuals and groups, and against restrictions,” said Ron Sellars, president of Ellison Research, in a press release announcing the survey’s results. “The majority feels those who don’t wish to listen to a prayer at graduation or see the Ten Commandments in a court building have the right to ignore these thingsbut not the right to stop others from expressing themselves.”
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.