Surveys find Americans tolerant of religious beliefs

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When it comes to religion, modern Americans think religious beliefs are good, but they tend to worry about beliefs that affect other people.

As a rule, religious words are safer than religious actions.

Consider these numbers from a new Ellison Research study that shows surprising support -- on the left and right, among believers and skeptics -- for freedom of expression when it comes to words and symbols.

An overwhelming 90 percent of adults agreed that faith groups should be allowed to rent public property, such as a school gym, if laws gave non-religious groups the same right. Asked about allowing a moment of silence in public schools, 89 percent said that was fine. Another 88 percent said teachers should have the right to wear jewelry, such as a cross or a Star of David, in public-school classes.

"There is a lot of unity out there about these kinds of issues," said Ron Sellers, president of the research firm in Phoenix. "But the specifics do matter. Wearing a cross on your lapel is not the same thing as showing up at school wearing a T-shirt with a big cross on it and the words, 'Believe in Jesus or you're going to hell.'

"There's no way to say that approving one thing is the same as approving another, even though the same principle is at stake."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

5 Comments
Posted January 27, 2008 at 6:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Choir Stall wrote:

Every American dabbles briefly in many things. Religion is no exception. Eventually most Americans will “try out” a pale form of Christianity and then move on to something else amusing or distracting. We are a country thousands of miles in scale, but alas, only two inches deep.

January 27, 8:38 pm | [comment link]
2. RoyIII wrote:

Most people, me included, really do not care what another’s religion is as long as they behave themselves.

January 28, 1:57 pm | [comment link]
3. libraryjim wrote:

Until it comes time to ‘display’ that religion in the public marketplace of ideas.  Then we really see how tolerant our fellow American really is.

court cases over religion recently include:
“In God we trust” on money
“One nation under God” in the pledge
Nativity scenes on ‘public’ property
one divorced parent suing another over the child going to Catholic school.

January 28, 2:06 pm | [comment link]
4. Harvey wrote:

2. RoyIII Good point.  Let all worship God in peace without interferring in the rights of others.  This does not mean shouting out the praise of Allah five times a day in a small city like Grand rapids using ear deafening one kilowatt amplifiers to sing their praises (PS the mayor said no way).  Even Christian churches toll their brass bells only on Sunday and then only a for a small number of minutes.

January 28, 6:22 pm | [comment link]
5. libraryjim wrote:

“There is a lot of unity out there about these kinds of issues,” said Ron Sellers, president of the research firm in Phoenix. “But the specifics do matter. Wearing a cross on your lapel is not the same thing as showing up at school wearing a T-shirt with a big cross on it and the words, ‘Believe in Jesus or you’re going to hell.’

Why not? Doesn’t the first amendment allow for all speech and religious expression?  Ron Sellers is wrong. They are the same, and both are to be protected AND (yes) tolerated.

January 29, 6:46 pm | [comment link]
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