Americans divided on state versus religious interference

By staff writers
January 21, 2015

Nearly half (46 per cent) of Americans say they are more concerned about the government interfering with the ability of people to freely practice their religion, while an equal number (46 per cent) say they are more concerned about religious groups trying to pass laws that force their beliefs on others.

These findings from the Public Religion Research Institute American Values Survey 2014 give an indication about the radically different lenses that people in the USA use to view these issues.

The results in more detail are that:

* White evangelical Protestants (66 per cent) and Hispanic Protestants (57 per cent) are more concerned about the government interfering with the ability of people to freely practice their religion.

* By contrast, religiously unaffiliated Americans (63 per cent) and Jewish Americans (64 per cent) report more concern about religious groups trying to pass laws that force their beliefs on others.

There is less of a consensus among other religious groups. A slim majority (51 per cent) of Catholics say they are more concerned about religious groups trying to force their beliefs on others, although 42 per cent say they are more concerned about the government interfering with people’s ability to freely practice their religion.

Although black Protestants are also divided, they are more concerned about religious groups trying to force their beliefs on others (48 per cent) than they are about the government interfering with people’s ability to freely practice their religion (40 per cent).

White mainline Protestants are nearly evenly divided: 46 per cent report more concern about the government interfering with people’s ability to freely practice their religion, while 45 per cent say they are more concerned about religious groups trying to pass laws that force their beliefs on others.

The survey also looks at attitudes on economic insecurity, rising inequality, and doubts about the future.

The results of the PRRI American Values Survey 2014, together with a video presentation, can be accessed at: http://publicreligion.org/research/2014/09/survey-economic-insecurity-ri...

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