Data from a survey released by the Barna Group on January 18th suggests that Evangelicals view religious freedom differently than other Americans and that they are far more likely than others to see their freedoms as endangered.
Evangelicals were more than twice as likely (71%) as the average adult (29%) to say that they were ‘very concerned’ about religious freedoms becoming ‘more constricted’ in the next five years. They were almost twice as likely (60% ) as average (33%) to say religious freedoms had been constricted in the past ten years. Evangelicals were the only group for which a majority of respondents believed this.
Evangelicals, however, have a different view of religious freedom than other groups reported on by the survey. Unlike every other group, Evangelicals overwhelmingly oppose traditional pluralism and believe instead that Christian values should be given preference in the United States.
While 2/3 of all adults surveyed agreed that ‘no one set of values should dominate the country,’ only 37% of Evangelicals agreed with this statement. They were more than twice as likely to say that Judeo-Christian values should be given preference in the U.S. (54% to 23%). Again, no other group held this as a majority viewpoint, even Catholics and other Christian segments of the population.
Another area of differing views was in the assignment of blame for a perceived threat to religious freedom. The survey release states that 57% of those responding to the question agreed that the perceived decreases in religious freedom should be blamed on groups who were 'trying to move society away from traditional Christian values.’ Some numerical oddities with the data make it unclear, however, whether this was 57% of all Americans surveyed or 57% of those who see their religious freedoms as threatened.
Regardless of that number, 97% of Evangelicals responding to the question agreed that nonChristian groups, especially gays, were to blame for their eroding religious freedoms.
This oddly disproportionate perspective on freedom may have been reflected in a headline appearing at the Christian Post on January 19. The headline distorted the results to say that ‘Most Americans Think Religious Freedom Fast Declining in US.’ Nothing in the survey report mentioned a ‘fast decline,’ and only a slim majority (51%), a percentage dominated overwhelmingly by Evangelicals, were ‘very concerned.’