A new study conducted by the religious liberty group “Becket” has found that, despite the declining rate of faith in the United States, support for upholding religious freedom has continued to rise.
Surveying 1,000 U.S. adults, the group noted that respondents were overwhelmingly in favor of a “hands-off government approach” and a “culture of accommodation” when it comes to rights related to religious freedom.
In an interview with the Family Research Council, Caleb Lyman, Becket’s analytics specialist, explained how the study was split into six dimensions.
“There are so many polls out there that give great analysis of single current issues or questions, but there wasn’t something to gauge what the full breadth of religious freedom opinion was in America. Religious freedom touches on so many aspects of people’s lives,” Lyman said.
Lyman noted that the six dimensions in the index are “religious pluralism, religious sharing, religion in policy, religion in action, religion in society and church and state.”
On the question of religious beliefs interacting with the state, a massive eighty percent of participants said they support individual freedoms to practice their religion and live out their beliefs without any interference. In addition, some 74% supported the expression of religious practices in the workplace.
Almost two thirds (66%) of respondents supported the right to practice religious faith, even if it inconveniences others, such as in the workplace.
When it came to the issue of businesses holding particular views that some may deem “discriminatory,” again a majority insisted that companies “should be able to hold beliefs without the threat of being boycotted, harassed, or shutdown.”
This is an interesting discovery considering the recent Chick-fil-A saga. The popular restaurant chain has come under fire for ceasing to issue charitable funds to The Salvation Army and The Fellowship of Christian Athletes — two organizations that have been labeled “anti-LGBT” because of their support of Biblical marriage. Chick-fil-A has a historically Christian heritage and has come under fire several times for holding firm to a faith-based ethos.
However, on this particular subject of the outworking faith among businesses, responses varied greatly between those of Democrat and Republican political affiliation.
Indeed, almost three-quarters of Republicans (73%) support the right of business owners and private organizations to hold any view they see fit, whereas just 45% of Democrats felt the same way.
In addition, it is encouraging to see that among those born from the mid-nineties to the early 2000s (Gen Z), religious freedom is seen as a vitally important issue — indeed, some 52% believe that employees should be free to practice their religion at work. This is compared to just 35% among baby boomers (born 1946-1964).
“Even after decades of religious freedom being pulled into the culture wars, Americans accept and support a broad interpretation of religious freedom,” Becket said in its summary of the study, which was named the “Religious Freedom Index.” “Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of the government penalizing groups and individuals for living out their religious beliefs.”
Becket concluded that contrary to popular narratives of increased tribalism and polarization”, the study’s figures indicate that “Americans support a culture of accommodation for minority faith practices.”