Most Americans Say Judges Are Anti-Religious

Sixty-four percent of Americans believe that rulings by judges in recent years have been more anti-religious than the Founding Fathers intended, a new poll shows.

Only 21 percent of adults think the judges' rulings regarding religion in public life have correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution, according to Rasmussen Reports.

Among evangelical Christians, 87 percent say the rulings have been too anti-religious. Those who practice other religions are evenly divided on the question.

Meanwhile, 51 percent of those who rarely or never attend a religious service believe the courts have correctly interpreted the Constitution.

"Legal scholars, religious leaders and politicians have argued for decades over whether the 'separation of church and state' is actually enshrined in the Constitution," the report, released Friday, states. "One side argues that the Constitution merely prohibits the establishment of a government-mandated official religion, but the other reads in the document the complete banishment of religion from anything touched by the government. The courts in recent years have leaned in the direction of the latter position."

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the federal statute creating the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional, concluding that it connotes endorsement and encouragement of a particular religious exercise.

A majority of Americans (60 percent) surveyed by Rasmussen were found to favor having the federal government recognize the annual prayer day.

Lawmakers and Christian groups have called on President Obama to direct the Justice Department to appeal the decision. The Obama administration announced last week that it will appeal.

With much attention drawn to the Supreme Court as Obama prepares to find a nominee to replace retiring Justice John Stevens, the new Rasmussen survey found that 39 percent of voters nationwide believe the high court is too liberal and only a quarter think it is too conservative.

Forty-six percent say the Supreme Court has been too hostile toward religion and only 13 percent say it has been too friendly toward religion.

Evangelical Christians are more likely than other Protestants and those of other faiths to view the high court as too hostile. While 73 percent of evangelicals say so, only 48 percent of other Protestants, 38 percent of Catholics and 29 percent of those of other faiths agree.

In other findings, 61 percent of Americans favor prayer in public schools. They also overwhelmingly favor allowing religious symbols to be displayed on public land. Also, 77 percent say an opening prayer should be part of the presidential inauguration ceremony.

Findings are based on a national survey of 1,000 adults, conducted April 21-22.

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