Study Finds Support For Religious Public Expression

Print More

Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content by logging-in here.

Ellison Research has assembled the latest statistics about how Americans view freedom of religious expression in public settings. Overall, the Phoenix-based firm found that almost 80 percent-or well more than that-support a range of those kinds of expressions: -90 percent think the law should support religious groups renting public property, such as a school, for […]

  • Asinus Gravis

    I’m not familiar with Ellison Research, but I find their survey questions and results to be overly simplistic. Further, as presented, they indicate that our schools and churches need to do a much better job of educating our citizens as to the meaning of the First Amendment, and as to why it is crucial to the nature of our republic. The survey suggests that a majority of people favor legal positions that have already been found unconstitutional.

    The question about renting public property has been judged constitutional–so long as it is open to any or all religious groups.

    All the other questions are too vague or simplistic to tell us much of anything clearly.

    How did they punctuate the question about moments of silence and prayer in public school? Should it be legal for a Muslim student to unroll his prayer rug, get down on his knees and face Mecca in observing his prayers? What about the religions that practice prayer by chanting while dancing in a circle? Why is only silent prayer contemplated? Some federal courts have approved, and others disallowed, a school board or state sanctioned moment of silence. Sometimes that turns on whether it is explicitly advocated as a means of fostering Christian prayer in the schools.

    The question about religious symbols contemplates too few examples. What about a wiccan wearing a prominent pentagram? What about a Jewish teacher wearing a yarmulka all the time? What about a Mulsim teacher wearing a burka every day? What about an ordained priest wearing a white collar and black suit every day? Aren’t all of those “wearing religious symbols”?

    The question about voluntary student led prayers is simplistic. How are the students to be selected to offer the prayers? Are the majority of the protestants to vote for one of their own to offer a protestant prayer for the entire audience? Is the Superintendent to pick a student whose religous views he trusts? Are the prayers to be censored by by the Superintendant or School Board before delivery? Will a representative of each religious body that has a student in the school be invited to offer a prayer at the same occasion? Can a Muslim student use his prayer rug in offering his prayer while facing Mecca?

    The question about the nativity scene on public property ignores the crucial issue of whether it is to be alone or alongside symbols of other religous groups? Will such displays be available for all of the religious holidays of all of the religions having citizens in the community?

    The questions about posting the 10 Commandments does not specify which verions of those commandments–Jewish, Catholic, or other. It does not address which translation of the commandments to use. It does not address the crucial legal issue of whether is has to appear as one among other significant early statements of legal codes? How about posting the Sharia Law in our court houses? How about the Code of Hammurabi? How about the U. N. Declaration of Human Rights?

    The suggestion that members of religious groups that are a minority in the community have the right to ignore these proposed pseudo-religious activities begs a fundamental question. What under the Constitution gives any group the right to impose their religious practices and/or doctrines on anyone else to start with?

    It is the Constitution that gives us the right to stop the arrogant nonsense of some religious persons trying to impose their pracitces/doctrines on others!