Word For It. . .

2Chronicles7:14-“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Liberals and Conservatives both want Freedom of Religious Expression and Practice

Posted by wordforit on January 29, 2008

(Original release date:  January 10, 2008)  Study results released today from Ellison Research (Phoenix, Arizona) show the vast majority of Americans believe it should be legal to have voluntary student-led prayers at public school events, display the Ten Commandments inside a court building, and allow religious displays on city-owned property.

The findings are from a study independently designed and conducted by Ellison Research among a representative sample of 1,007 American adults.  The sample is balanced by gender, age, income, race, and geography.  The study presented a number of scenarios to people, and asked whether each one generally should or should not be legal in the U.S. 

The results may be surprising not just in what perspective Americans take on each issue, but in how much unity of thought there is on many of the issues: 

  • 90% feel the law should support religious groups renting public property, such as a public school gym or a library room, for meetings if non-religious groups are allowed to do so
  • 89% say it should be legal for a public school teacher to permit a “moment of silence” for prayer or contemplation for all students during class time
  • 88% believe it should be legal for public school teachers to wear religious symbols, such as a Star of David or a cross, during class time
  • 87% say voluntary student-led prayers at public school events, such as football games or graduation ceremonies, should be legal
  • 83% believe the display of a nativity scene on city property, such as city hall, should be legal 
  • 79% say it should be legal to display a copy of the Ten Commandments inside a court building. 

Out of nine such scenarios presented to people in the study, only three do not show this level of unified thought:

  • 60% believe the display of a scene honoring Islam on city property, such as a city hall, during Ramadan (a Muslim holiday) should be legal (even though 83% thought a nativity display should be legal)
  • 52% believe it should be legal for a religious club in a high school or university to determine for itself who can be in their membership, even if certain types of people are excluded
  • 33% say it should be legal for a landlord to refuse to rent an apartment to a homosexual couple

It may not be surprising that highly religious Americans, as well as those who have a conservative political viewpoint, strongly support individual religious and moral rights.  What may be surprising is the high proportion of non-religious Americans, and those who have a more liberal political viewpoint, who share this perspective. 

For instance, 92% of people who regularly attend religious worship services believe voluntary student-led prayers at public school events should be legal, but 83% of those who do not regularly attend worship services also believe this.  Solid majorities of people who do not attend religious services also believe it should be legal to have a moment of silence in public school classes, for teachers to wear religious symbols during class, for religious displays to be allowed on city property, for religious groups to have equal access to public facilities, and for the Ten Commandments to be displayed inside a court building.

Some of these scenarios get positioned as issues championed by evangelical Christians, but this is only part of the truth.  Evangelicals are significantly more likely than other Americans to believe most of these scenarios should be legal in the U.S. today.  However, non-evangelicals usually have the same perspective as evangelicals – just with majorities that are not as strong.  For instance, 97% of evangelicals believe it should be legal for the Ten Commandments to be displayed inside court buildings, but 77% of non-evangelicals also believe this should be legal.

What may be most surprising is when the scenarios are viewed according to political affiliations and beliefs.  Ninety-five percent of those who describe themselves as politically conservative believe voluntary student-led prayers at public school events should be legal.  This same perspective is held by 90% of self-described moderates, and even 73% of those who call themselves liberal.  Eighty-eight percent of conservatives believe nativity scenes on city property should be legal, as do 88% of moderates, and 70% of liberals.

The picture doesn’t change when party affiliation is substituted for political viewpoint.  Ninety-five percent of Republicans believe voluntary student-led prayers at public schools should be legal, along with 87% of independents, and 82% of Democrats.  Ninety-two percent of Republicans believe teachers should legally be allowed to wear symbols of their religious faith during class time, along with 88% of independents, and 85% of Democrats.

Indeed, the majority of Democrats and self-described political liberals believe the law should allow nativity scenes on city property, displays honoring Islam on city property, displays of the Ten Commandments in court buildings, teachers wearing religious symbols, moments of silence for prayer or reflection during class times, equal access to public facilities for religious groups, and voluntary student-led prayers at public school events.

The study also shows a gap between what people feel should be legal regarding Christianity and other religions (in this case, demonstrated by the fact that 83% say a nativity scene on city property should be legal, but only 60% say a display honoring Islam during Ramadan should be legal).  Overall, 58% of all Americans feel both should be legal, while 15% feel both should be illegal.  One percent believe honoring Islam should be legal while a nativity scene should be outlawed.  However, 25% of all Americans say a nativity scene should be legal, but not a display honoring Islam. 

Americans who feel a nativity display should be legal but not a display honoring Islam tend to be women age 35 or older who are either conservative or moderate politically.  However, this perspective does not hinge on religious belief or practice – evangelicals, born again Christians, and people who attend worship services are not significantly more or less likely than others to say a nativity scene on city property should be legal, but not a display honoring Islam.

Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, believes there are a number of things to learn from these results.  One is that the labels placed on people often don’t accurately define who they are and what they believe.  “There’s too often a stereotype in today’s world that one side – be they defined as churchgoers, conservatives, the ‘religious right,’ Republicans, evangelicals, or whatever – want to turn the U.S. into a theocracy or shove religion down everyone’s throats, while the other side – again, be they called Democrats, the non-religious, liberals, or the unchurched – are anti-religion and fighting to make this a purely secular society.  On most of these issues, these different groups have a lot more in common than the stereotypes would suggest – most people simply support the right to individual religious expression, even if another person may not like that expression.”

Sellers also noted that this study can be seen as being about individual freedoms, rather than just religion.  “By definition, giving rights to one person means taking rights away from another.  If I have the right to paint my house any color I want, my neighbor loses the right not to have to look at a purple house.  Americans clearly come down on the side of freedoms and rights for individuals and groups, and against restrictions.  They believe in the right of a student to express herself at graduation, or the right of a church to rent a public school gym for its services, or the right of a public school teacher to wear a Star of David on his lapel.  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 things – but not the right to stop others from expressing themselves.”

He also cautioned that the findings from this study do not say Americans support individual rights and freedoms at all costs.  “This research is not a legal document with exact definitions of individual cases, but a generalized idea of what Americans believe,” Sellers explained.  “Because people believe in a teacher’s right to wear a religious symbol does not necessarily mean that would apply no matter what the symbol, how it’s displayed, etc.  It means in general, they believe teachers should have that right of personal expression.  But Americans also take into consideration how their own freedoms impact others.  For instance, one-third feel a landlord should have the right to do with his property what he wishes, while two-thirds disagree if that means a homosexual couple loses the right of equal access to housing.”

The study was conducted by Ellison Research, a marketing research company located in Phoenix, Arizona.  The sample of 1,007 adults is accurate to within ±3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level with a 50 percent response distribution. 

The study was conducted in all 50 states.  Respondents’ age, household income, geography, racial or ethnic background, and gender were carefully tracked to ensure appropriate representation and accuracy.

Source: EllisonResearch.com <<<See Graphs for:

Perceptions of what should be legal (regardless of whether it is currently legal). . .

Perceptions of what should be legal (regardless of whether it is currently legal), by religious perspective. . .

Perceptions of what should be legal (regardless of whether it is currently legal), by political perspective.


All for naught without the Saving Grace of Jesus! ~WordforIt



One Response to “Liberals and Conservatives both want Freedom of Religious Expression and Practice”

  1. Angie said

    Darn good post, wordforit! Personally I am of the camp that it should never have stopped in 62 I think? Now I think it is silly the way it is fought so hard..They can not stop us or our children from praying anywhere. The A.C.L.U. has intimidated and brow beat a few so many don’t call on them on it. However, they have lost many times when the Christian Coalition has fought them on it.

    I can also see how if you have a nativity scene you would probably have to have something from other religions to represent them. Can you imagine seeing all that in our country? I never will forget how unusual it looked to me to see a temple in California many years ago. Pagan to me yes! and very different for a gal from Ky to see with her conservative Baptist background! LOL! hattipped you on the Mexico immigration policies.

    WfI Reply: Thanks, Angie! Several years ago, I started to get involved w/ a group advocating teaching Bible studies in school. In consideration, I realized it would mean also teaching X,Y, and Z (or should we say A-Z since that’s a fact of what exists?), but more than that, it would be another battle as to who woud teach what and just from what I see some adhere to in reading online, it would cause more fighting, which would cause more “falling away”. As it is, biblical studies encompass the historical aspects where it is taught, and it’s an elective. Can’t comment too much on that b/c I don’t know the current format, but I’d rather the public school ‘experts’ not teach my child(ren) anything outside of general studies. As far as history, look how revised the USA’s very young history has already become.

    Not to diss on teachers personally b/c there are some who are excellent, but even their skills are stifled by ‘plural’, ‘inclusive’, etc. Too bad it’s considered ‘ethnocentric’, ‘isolationist’, etc. to not want other religious (i.e., other gods) ‘paraphernalia’ forced on us; that’s what happened in ancient history to destroy other cultures. At the same time, Christians are bashed for wanting ‘dominance’. . .getting down to brass tacks, Jesus does RULE! I don’t, however, see the USA as a superpower in allowing so much nonsense within its borders. If we can’t get a handle on our own biz, what biz do we have meddling in others’ affairs?

    It’s a disgrace to expect the American public to support the activities in the articles below with tax dollars. (Plurality, indeed. They’ll just have to call me ‘intolerant’!) And this is only a few articles on one site— (Bear w/ me, Angie—I don’t want to have to look these up later so I’m putting them here. . .:-) It’s not about being an alarmist; it’s about a warning, esp. the last article!!

    An investigation was launched into what was done at San Diego’s Carver Elementary after a substitute teacher, Mary-Frances Stevens, filled in there. She reported a teacher’s aide was leading children in an Islamic prayer and that she was given a lesson plan allowing an hour of class time for Islamic prayers.

    (NewYorkCity) The Thomas More Law Center, which defends and promotes the religious freedom of Christians as well as time-honored family values and the sanctity of human life, is promising to monitor the new Arabic-themed Khalil Gibran International Academy, a taxpayer-funded school in New York City.
    . . .We are concerned that the city is setting up a segregated, separate but equal public school system: one for Islam and another for everyone else,” he said.

    An Islamic “jihad” is an effort by Muslims to convince “others to take up worthy causes, such as funding medical research,” according to a middle school textbook used in California and other states.
    . . .And even at its most violent, “jihad” simply is Muslims fighting “to protect themselves from those who would do them harm,” says the “History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond” book published by Teachers’ Curriculum Institute.
    . . .”The upsetting part is not only do they go into the history (which would be acceptable) but also the teaching of Islam,” she said. “This book does not really go into Christianity or the teachings of Christ, nor does it address religious doctrine elsewhere to the degree it does Islam.”

    The “Five Pillars” of Islam – charity, fasting, prayer, belief and pilgrimage – are being taught to public school students in Nyssa, Ore., under the guise of world history, the school has confirmed to WND, even though a parent raised a complaint about the same teachings a year ago.

    A Minnesota community college has “a Muslim place of worship” featuring “a schedule for Islam’s five daily prayers,” according to a local newspaper columnist who visited the campus.

    A satanist on trial for allegedly killing and dismembering another man, then eating portions of the body, may wear his full religious regalia when he defends himself in court, a Florida judge has ruled.
    . . .Walker said he did not object to the request, because Galindo cited recent decisions that have allowed Islam into U.S. courtrooms for Muslim faithful, and he didn’t want to set up a circumstance that could result in grounds for an appeal if Galindo is convicted.

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