"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." - First Amendment
A separate survey released this month finds that nearly half of the U.S. public believes that Christians — who make up 72% of the adult U.S. population — are now facing as much discrimination as other groups in the country. Details on both surveys follow.
The State of the First Amendment survey, conducted by the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center, tests Americans’ knowledge of their core freedoms and samples their opinions on First Amendment issues of the day.
When asked to name the five specific freedoms in the First Amendment, 57% of Americans name freedom of speech, followed by 19% who say the freedom of religion, 10% mention the freedom of the press, 10% mention the right to assemble, and 2% name the right to petition. Thirty-three percent of Americans cannot name any of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Over the past year, those naming freedom of speech decreased from 68 to 57%, freedom of religion decreased from 29 to 19%, and freedom of the press declined from 14 to 10%.
Despite the lack of knowledge, in 2015, the survey found a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who believe that the First Amendment does not go far enough in the rights it guarantees. Last year, 38% stated that the First Amendment goes too far and 57% said it does not go too far. In the current survey, only 19% say the First Amendment goes too far while 75% say it does not. The 2013 survey saw a spike in the percentage who said the First Amendment goes too far, perhaps a response to the perceived safety threat from the Boston Marathon bombings, according to the researchers. As that event is now in the more distant past, public support for the First Amendment has returned to more “normal” levels. Interestingly, the study also noted a similar dive in public opinion after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The nationwide sampling was done by telephone between May 14 and 23, and reached 1,002 adults age 18 or older.
Americans are divided over whether Christians—who make up 72% of the adult population—are now facing as much discrimination as other groups, according to a new PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service.
Nearly half (49%) of the public say that discrimination against Christians has become as big of a problem as discrimination against other groups, while approximately as many (47%) disagree.
According to the researchers, there are notable differences among Americans by religious affiliation. Seven in ten (70%) white evangelical Protestants agree that discrimination against Christians has become as bad as discrimination against other groups. A majority (55%) of non-white Protestants also agree that discrimination against Christians has become as problematic as other types of discrimination, while white mainline Protestants (46% agree vs. 50% disagree) and Catholics (50% agree vs. 47% disagree) are divided. Nearly six in ten (59%) religiously unaffiliated Americans do not think that discrimination against Christians is comparable to that against other groups.
The PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey was was nationwide survey of 1,007 adults was conducted from June 10 to June 14, 2015. The survey measures public views on patriotism, the role that protest plays in improving our country, what makes someone “truly American,” America’s moral standing, discrimination against Christians in the U.S. and immigration. Other findings include:
- More than six in ten (62 percent) Americans believe that God has granted the country a special role in human history. Additionally, 63 percent of U.S. adults say there has never been a time when they were not proud to be an American. At the same time, only 43 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. sets a good moral example for the world, while 53 percent disagree.
- Most Americans do not believe the U.S. is a Christian nation. Only about one-third (35 percent) say that the U.S. is a Christian nation today, while 14 percent say that the U.S. has never been a Christian nation. Nearly half (45 percent) of the public believes that it once was a Christian nation but is not anymore. However, among Americans who believe the U.S. is no longer a Christian nation, most (61 percent) say this change is a bad thing.