Most Americans oppose ‘religious freedom’ laws that allow for discrimination

Most Americans oppose ‘religious freedom’ laws that allow for discrimination
A demonstrator holds a rainbow flag up to the fence surrounding the White House in Washington, DC during the National Equality March for LGBT rights in October 2009. Photo: Tony Webster, Via Wikimedia Commons, CC 4.0

Americans are not on board with discrimination against the LGBTQ community under the guise of “religious freedom,” according to a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said they oppose religious based refusals of service to LGBTQ people. Only thirty percent said they agree with such exemptions, and nine percent said they did not know or refused to answer.

The White House has reportedly been considering a “religious freedom” executive order that would be a license to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, as well as unmarried couples, and Congress appears eager to pass the First Amendment Defense Act, which would also allow for belief based discrimination.

Trump has pledged to sign the legislation if it passes Congress, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has also recently defended it.

Trump spoke at length about the importance of “religious freedom” during his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he also said he would “destroy” the Johnson Amendment. The Johnson Amendment prevents churches from backing a candidate or political party from the pulpit.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents to the PRRI poll said they favor same-sex marriage, with 32 percent opposed.

When it came to religiously motivated discrimination, white evangelical Protestants were the only religious group in which a majority does not oppose religiously based service refusals by small businesses, with 50 percent in favor and 42 percent opposed.

Pollsters conducted more than 40,000 interviews, all taking place throughout 2016.

In 2015, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 54 percent of 892 adult Americans polled said they believed it was wrong for businesses to refuse service on the grounds of religious freedom, with 28 percent in favor.

It has been reported that Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner helped kill the anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” executive order, amid heavy backlash.

Research suggesting most Americans are not in favor of such an action could help keep it buried. Or so we can hope.

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