“Religious freedom has survived the culture wars,” legal institute Becket says as it introduces its Religious Freedom Index, a measure that, in its first release, found that Americans largely support a “broad interpretation” of religious freedom.
Becket, a self-described “non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute with a mission to protect the free expression of all faiths,” says results of its Religious Freedom Index indicate that, despite what appears to be a huge cultural divide in the country, Americans are “uncomfortable” with the notion of government “penalizing” faith groups for expressing and living out their beliefs in the public square.
Instead of an expected discovery of a 50-50 divide on religious freedom, the index’s composite score of 67 on six dimensions demonstrates religious liberty “maintains its place as a core American cultural value,” states Becket.
A nationally representative sample of 1,000 American adults responded to the index’s 21 questions in these six areas: 1) Religious Pluralism, 2) Religion and Policy, 3) Religious Sharing, 4) Religion in Society, 5) Church and State, and 6) Religion in Action.
Among some of the findings, under the dimension of Religious Pluralism, 87 percent of those surveyed supported the right to practice religion without fear of discrimination or government intrusion.
In addition, 66 percent said faith groups should be able to receive government funds for providing services to the community.
Becket reports another key finding of the index is that Americans support “a culture of acceptance and accommodation of minority beliefs and practices.”
“Contrary to popular narratives of increased tribalism and polarization, Americans support a culture of accommodation for minority faith practices,” the legal institute says.
The composite index score is the average score of all six dimensions, and this year’s initial composite score of 67 will serve as a baseline for the future.
“With a first edition score of 67, the 2019 Index indicated strong support for religious freedom protections,” Becket states. “Future results will show whether religious liberty will remain a unifying value at the core of American cultural identity, or shift to a partisan and controversial topic like so many others.”