A new survey released July 12 by the First Amendment Center finds 67% of Americans agree with the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. In a July 14 article explaining the results, Center President Charles C. Haynes calls the results “surprising.”
This is somewhat surprising given the decades-old culture-war fight over the meaning and scope of separation.
For decades now, Christian-nation advocates have tried to convince Americans that “separation of church and state isn’t in the First Amendment.” They have peddled a revisionist account of a “Christian America” that should (at best) tolerate other faiths to reside here.
Apparently, the American people aren’t buying the propaganda.
The question (relayed in the form of a “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement” format) was number 6 of a 13 question survey. It read, “The First Amendment requires a clear separation of church and state.” 67% agreed mildly or strongly; 28% disagreed mildly or strongly; and 5% didn’t know. There were 1,006 respondants with a possible sampling error of +/-3.2% at 95% confidence level. Although the “State of the First Amendment” survey has been conducted annually since 1997, this is only the second year this question was asked. Results for 2011 were virtually unchanged from the findings of 2010.
Other survey findings can be found (in pdf format) here. According to its “about us” page, the First Amendment Center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of free-expression issues, including freedom of speech, of the press and of religion, and the rights to assemble and to petition the government.
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