Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

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.

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4 Responses to “The freedom to exclude some religions from the freedom of religion”

  1. renaissanceguy said

    I don’t know about revoking citizenship, but I don’t think people should have the privilege of voting if they don’t have basic knowledge of the Constitution. If they don’t know that much, how do they know which candidate would be the best President or Congressman?

  2. Lady said

    I agree with the statement above. I mean, if these people are this dumb, then what is the nation coming to? Oops, I guess I should just look around. -,-*

  3. digglahhh said

    Future English teachers take note. The concept of irony is one of the most difficult to teach, so here’s a great example. Deny voting privileges to promote the sanctity of, and enforce respect for the Constitution…

    Yeah, these attitudes are a problem, further undermining our already failing democracy as to only allow those who agree with you to vote is certainly not the solution!

    For what it’s worth, I would have a difficult time responding to whether the founders intended it to be a Christian Nation. I think that was at least their hope. I have a less sanctified view of the founders than most though…

  4. thomas said

    I would say, according to our growth pattern as a country in accordance to this matter, that it is possible that one day we will allow and accept “on the fringe religions.” For example if my religious says kill x people, and I do it, apparently it’s my freedom from the first amendment. We dont accept this now, but it’s reasonable to say we may grow to do so. Also, it is interesting to point out that “thou shalt not murder” and thou shalt not steal are the only commandments we still enforce. We have, in this country, witnessed the decline of the importance of the family ( honor mother and father) and have definitely grown to accept adultery as it is a commonly seen practice, especially in the entertainment industry. so over time, i b elieve the other two may go.

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