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'Hands-Off' Our Religious Freedom: New Index Reveals Americans Want the Government to Keep Out

Image credit: Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
Image credit: Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Mark Rienzi, president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty appeared on Wednesday's edition of CBN News' Faith Nation to talk about the Religious Freedom Index. Faith Nation is seen weeknights on the CBN News Channel.  For a programming schedule, click here

Even though Americans these days seem to be divided politically, a majority of Americans support religious freedom, according to a new study released Wednesday as part of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty's first Religious Freedom Index.

The Religious Freedom Index is a comprehensive study that uses rigorous scale-construction methods to track trends in perspectives on American religious freedom, according to Becket, a non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute with a mission to protect the free expression of all faiths.

According to the index, even after decades of religious freedom being pulled into the culture wars, Americans accept and support a broad interpretation of religious freedom. 

This year's Index shows the strongest support in the Religious Pluralism dimension, with a score of 80. This dimension deals with the basic rights to hold unique beliefs and to worship according to those beliefs without facing persecution. 

The Religious Sharing dimension, which asks about the freedom to share beliefs with others and to have open conversations about religion in public, had the second-highest level of support with a score of 71.

Becket's research also shows Americans want a government that's hands-off. Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of the government penalizing groups and individuals for living out their religious beliefs.

In particular, the question of government funding shows 66 percent of Americans believe that religious organizations that provide services to help in the community (e.g., soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc.) should be just as eligible to receive government funds as non-religious organizations that provide the same kind of services in the community. Thirty-four percent were opposed to such government funding. 

In this day and age of the pro-LGBTQ agenda, the index shows 74 percent of Americans said individuals and groups should not face discrimination, fines, or penalties from the government for their beliefs about marriage. 

The study also reveals that contrary to popular narratives of increased tribalism and polarization, 81 percent of Americans support a culture of accommodation for minority faith practices.

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