Two-thirds of Americans believe that religious organizations have the right to make certain hiring decisions without government control, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Becket Fund.
Sixty-six percent of respondents agreed that “a religious organization should be able to make decisions about who it hires to teach its faith to the next generation, free from government control.”
A similar majority — 68 percent — agreed that the separation of church and state means a religious organization’s “internal religious disputes” should remain free of government involvement.
The survey also found that most Americans think religious organizations, not the government, should have the final say in passing religious convictions to younger generations. Fifty-nine percent said, if there is a dispute over “who can or cannot teach a religious organization’s beliefs to the next generation,” the religious organization should be able to make that decision.
Not only are most Americans in favor of protecting their First Amendment religious liberties, they also have an encouraging grasp of the topic. The Becket survey asked respondents four true/false questions about the extent of religious freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and over two-thirds of respondents gave the correct answer for each question.
There was also a correlation between respondents’ knowledge of their constitutional religious liberties and their interest in protecting them. Respondents who did not answer the true/false questions correctly were more likely “to side with the government than religious organizations in some of the opinion questions.”
The overall support for religious liberty demonstrated by the survey comes after the Supreme Court’s Monday decision expanded Title VII sex discrimination laws from 1964 to include sexual orientation, raising concerns for religious organizations and individuals who hold moral objections to homosexuality.