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Majority of Americans Do Not Believe Religious Liberty Is Under Attack

According to a new poll, a majority of Americans do not believe religious liberty is under attack, and only six percent of those who do feel religious liberty is being threatened blamed the recent debate over contraception coverage.

The poll, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, found that 56 percent of respondents did not feel religious liberty was threatened, while 39 percent of respondents felt their religious liberty was threatened.

When the responses were broken down by political beliefs, 72 percent of Tea Partiers and 60 percent of Republicans said they felt their religious liberty was threatened, while 69 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents disagreed.

The polls were also split by age group, with 56 percent of seniors saying religious liberty was threatened and 73 percent of Millennials saying it was fine.

Religious groups, however, were fairly consistent in their belief that religious liberty was safe.

According to PRRI CEO Dr. Robert P. Jones, "Nearly 6-in-10 Catholics do not believe that religious liberty is being threatened. The only religious group in which a majority believes religious liberty is being threatened in America today is evangelicals."

For those who did feel American religious liberty was threatened, the pollsters also asked what current events they saw as most threatening. Of those responding, 23 percent saw the removal of religion from the public square as the primary threat to religious liberty, while 20 percent credited "general governmental interference with religion."

The survey also asked about family issues, such as whether or not adoption agencies receiving federal funds should be able to refuse homosexual adoptive parents and whether or not homosexual couples should be allowed to marry.

When asked about homosexual adoption, 63 percent of respondents said that federally funded adoption agencies should not be able to refuse parents based on sexual orientation.

However, when asked about religiously affiliated agencies that did not receive federal funds, only 50 percent of respondents said that they should not be able to refuse homosexual parents.

On same-sex marriage, a 52 percent majority of Americans believe homosexuals should be allowed to marry. That number rose to 58 percent when respondents were told that allowing same-sex couples to marry would not guarantee that any church or religious organization would have to perform a marriage against their beliefs.

When the same question was broken down by religion, PRRI found that 59 percent of Catholics, 65 percent of white mainline Protestants, and 75 percent of the religiously unaffiliated supported same-sex marriage. On the other hand, 48 percent of minority Protestants and 71 percent of white evangelical Protestants opposed same-sex marriage.

PRRI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization focused on the intersection of faith and public life. Results of the survey were based on bilingual (Spanish and English) RDD telephone interviews conducted from March 7-March 11, 2012.

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