(RNS) — Final month I wrote about one space of consensus amid the 2 warring factions in our more and more polarized republic. Whereas the 2 political events and their constituents couldn’t be additional aside of their positions on gender and sexuality points, abortion, taxation and a bunch of different questions, Democrats and Republicans do align on one subject: non secular liberty.
However the alignment will not be utterly unaffected by politics.
In late 2020, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty commissioned a poll that requested Individuals about non secular freedom in numerous contexts. What the outcomes reveal is an American public that typically agrees on how non secular liberty must be expressed and guarded in the USA.
As an example, 37% of Republicans consider that non secular leaders ought to be capable of specific their political opinions with out risking their tax-exempt standing. That place is shared by 32% of Democrats — a statistically insignificant distinction.
Almost the identical share of Republicans and Democrats consider that non secular organizations must be handled no in another way than different nonprofits by authorities funders. Whereas Republicans are about 10 share factors extra prone to consider that non secular organizations must be thought-about tax-exempt than Democrats, that’s a small distinction in contrast with the chasm that exists between the events on a difficulty like, say, a lady’s proper to decide on an abortion.
Even when requested about particular circumstances, the variations between the 2 events are sometimes negligible. Simply 25% of Democrats and 20% of Republicans consider the federal government ought to require a spiritual group to stick to authorities insurance policies if it expects authorities help. When requested if a publicly funded college must be allowed to close down a spiritual scholar group that violates college values, solely 22% of Democrats and 17% of Republicans agreed.
The conclusion right here is simple: Individuals (no matter partisan affiliation) consider that non secular organizations have to be given quite a lot of latitude and may largely function unencumbered by the federal government.
However Republicans and Democrats are much less prone to agree on which governmental establishments will be trusted to make sure non secular freedom — an opinion that appears to rely upon who occupies the White Home. Becket requested which authorities entity does one of the best at defending non secular liberty. Is it the president, Congress, the courts, state authorities, or one thing else? There are huge variations in responses.
Simply 8% of Democrats believed that the president was a worthy champion of spiritual liberty. By comparability, 35% of Republicans believed that the president was a defender of the rights of spiritual Individuals. This broad discrepancy could also be on account of the truth that Donald Trump was within the White Home when this ballot was carried out. Throughout his reelection bid, he stated, “The day I took workplace … the federal authorities’s conflict on faith got here to a really abrupt finish.” Republicans appear to take this message to coronary heart.
Past this hole, nevertheless, the variations amongst Democrats and Republicans on who protects non secular freedom is comparatively small. Seventeen p.c of Democrats suppose that Congress does one of the best job, in contrast with 12% of Republicans. About 32% of Democrats suppose that the court docket system is one of the best safety for non secular freedom, in contrast with 26% of Republicans.
What’s most shocking in regards to the help for non secular liberty is that it has stayed constant because the share of Individuals who haven’t any non secular affiliation is rapidly increasing. Final 12 months, Pew Analysis Heart found that 76% of Republicans and 52% of Democrats believed that church buildings had a constructive impact on the methods issues are going within the nation.
Thus, there’s little purpose to consider that battles over non secular freedom will subside within the close to future. In line with this information, most Individuals will aspect with non secular organizations, whilst an rising share of them don’t affiliate with a faith themselves.
The discourse in regards to the function of faith in the USA can typically grow to be poisonous on social media and there are lots of loud voices who attempt to amplify messages that search the top of faith in the USA. However this information from the Becket Fund helps different surveys indicating that the overwhelming majority of Individuals see the worth of faith and need it to be protected.
(Ryan Burge is an assistant professor of political science at Jap Illinois College, a pastor within the American Baptist Church and writer of “The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, and Where They Are Going.” He will be reached on Twitter at @ryanburge. The views expressed on this commentary don’t essentially replicate these of Faith Information Service.)
Ahead of the Trend is a collaborative effort between Faith Information Service and the Association of Religion Data Archives made doable by means of the help of the John Templeton Foundation. See different Forward of the Pattern articles here.