The freedom to exclude some religions from the freedom of religion
Posted by metaphorical on 14 September 2007
“While the survey shows Americans highly value religious freedom, a significant number support privileging the religion of the majority, especially in public schools. Four decades after the Supreme Court declared state-sponsored religious practices unconstitutional in public schools, 58% of respondents support teacher-led prayers and 43% favor school holiday programs that are entirely Christian. Moreover, 50% would allow schools to teach the Bible as a factual text in a history class.
“The strong support for official recognition of the majority faith appears to be grounded in a belief that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, in spite of the fact that the Constitution nowhere mentions God or Christianity. Of course, people define “Christian nation” in various ways — ranging from a nation that reflects Christian values to a nation where the government favors the Christian faith. But almost one-third of respondents appear to believe that the religious views of the majority should rule: 28% would deny freedom to worship to any group that the majority considers ‘extreme or on the fringe.’”
— Charles Haynes of the First Amendment Center
The First Amendment Center periodically surveys Americans about their Constitutional rights, and a new survey was just released. It’s being widely reported by USA Today and others but some of the scariest numbers are ones that haven’t changed significantly over the past decade or more.
- 34% think the press in America has too much freedom to do what it wants
- 24% think Americans have too little religious freedom
- 39% strongly disagree with the assertion that the news media tries to report the news without bias, and 36% strongly agree with this: “The falsifying or making up of stories in the American news media is a widespread problem.”
- 25% strongly disagree with the idea that newspapers should be allowed to freely criticize the U.S military about its strategy and performance.
- 28% believe that the First Amendment’s freedom of worship “Was never meant to apply to religious groups that the majority of the people consider extreme or on the fringe.”
- 46% strongly agree that “The nation?s founders intended the United States to be a Christian nation.”
- 38% strongly agree that “The U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation.”
- 33% strongly agree that “A public school teacher should be allowed to use the Bible as a factual text in a history or social studies class.” (Another 17% mildly agree.)
- 42% strongly agree that “Teachers and other public school officials should be allowed to lead prayers in public school.” (Another 16% mildly agree.)
Unfortunately, there was no question asking whether citizens should have to take a test regarding their knowledge of the Constitution and have their citizenship revoked if they fail.
The full report is here.