It’s getting harder and harder to exercise our religious freedoms in a society where a third of our citizens don’t even know what’s in the Bill of Rights.
Since 1997, the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University has published a survey it calls “The State of the First Amendment.” As the name suggests, the survey measures public attitudes towards our First Amendment rights and freedoms.
The 2013 survey is out, and the news isn’t good, especially for those of us who value religious freedom.
When asked to name the most important freedom, nearly half of those surveyed replied “freedom of speech.” This isn’t surprising, but the gap between numbers one and two on the list is.
“Freedom of religion” came in second, but was cited by only 10 percent of those surveyed. And that’s as good as it gets for religious freedom in this survey. Once the survey went from generalities to specifics, the results got worse, a lot worse, and in a hurry.
For instance, 62 percent of those surveyed agree that “if a religiously affiliated group receives government funding, then the government should be able to require the group to provide health care benefits to same-sex partners of employees, even if the religious group opposes same-sex marriages or partners.”
Not surprisingly, a higher percentage of those aged 18-to-30 agree with the position.
A similar bad news/worse news dynamic is on display in the responses to the statement “a business providing wedding services to the public should be required to serve same-sex couples, even if the business owner objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds.”