Mark A. Smith is professor of Political Science and an adjunct professor of Comparative Religion and Communication at the University of Washington. His research focuses on economic and religious groups, ideas, and influences in American politics. In his new book, Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics, Dr. Smith argues that religion is not nearly the unchanging conservative influence in American politics that we have come to think it is and is best understood as responding to changing political and cultural values rather than shaping them.
Most Americans (56%) and a majority of Catholics (57%) do not believe the right of religious liberty is being threatened in America today. White Catholics, however, are more evenly divided on the issue, with 49 percent saying the right of religious liberty is being threatened, and 47 percent saying it is not being threatened.
Notably, white evangelical Protestants (61%) are the only major religious group that believes religious liberty is threatened in America today. Majorities of minority Protestants, white mainline Protestants and the unaffiliated do not believe the religious liberty is being threatened in America today.
There are also significant political and generational divides on this issue. Majorities of Tea Party members (72%) Republicans (60%), and seniors (56%) also believe that religious liberty is being threatened. By contrast, majorities of Democrats (69%), Independents (58%), and Millennials (73%) do not believe that religious liberty is being threatened today.
Stay tuned to our blog as we unveil more analysis of the “Fortnight of Facts About Religious Liberty.“