Monthly Religion News Surveys Print

Survey | Continued Majority Support for Employer Contraception Mandate, Opposition to Allowing Small Businesses to Refuse Services on Religious Grounds

[06.11.2014] Read the topline questionnaire, including the survey methodology, here. Read the news release here.

May 2014 Religion & Politics Tracking Survey

With the exception of churches and other places of worship, most Americans believe that employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception at no cost. However, contraception mandate GOTW FINAL 2 640x1383 Survey | Continued Majority Support for Employer Contraception Mandate,  Opposition to Allowing Small Businesses to Refuse Services on Religious GroundsAmericans draw distinctions based on the type and size of the employer. Opinions about the types of employers that should be required to provide health insurance that includes contraception coverage are largely unchanged from 2012.

  • Roughly 6-in-10 Americans say that publicly-held corporations (61%) and privately-owned corporations (57%) should be required to provide their employees with health insurance that includes contraception at no cost.
  • A smaller majority (51%) of the public say privately-owned small businesses should be required to provide health care coverage that includes contraception, while 46% disagree.
  • Majorities of Americans say that religiously-affiliated hospitals (56%) and religiously-affiliated colleges (52%) should be required to provide insurance that covers contraception for their employees.
  • Only 42% of the public believes that churches or other places of worship should be required to provide health insurance that includes contraception coverage to employees; a majority (53%) oppose requiring churches or other places of worship to provide health insurance that includes contraception coverage to employees..
  • There are notable differences in views about the contraception mandate by religious affiliation.
    • A majority of Catholics believe that publicly-held corporations (56%), privately-owned corporations (54%), and privately-owned small businesses (53%) should be required to provide their employees with health insurance that includes contraception. However, Catholics are divided about whether religiously-affiliated hospitals (50% should, 47% should not) or religiously-affiliated colleges (49% should, 49% should not) should be required to provide contraception coverage for employees with their health insurance plans. A majority (56%) of Catholics say that churches and other places of worship should not be required to provide this type of coverage.
    • White evangelical Protestants are unique among religious groups in their opposition to the employer contraception coverage mandate. Four-in-ten (40%) white evangelical Protestants say privately-owned corporations should have to provide health insurance that includes contraception while 45% say the same of publicly-held corporations. Fewer than 4-in-10 white evangelical Protestants say religiously- affiliated colleges (35%), religiously-affiliated hospitals (39%), privately-owned businesses (34%) and churches (26%) should be required to provide this type of health insurance.
    • Religiously unaffiliated Americans express nearly uniform views in the opposite direction. A majority of unaffiliated Americans believe that any type of employer—including churches and places of worship (58%)—should provide their employees with health insurance that covers contraception.
    • There are strong partisan divisions over whether privately-owned corporations should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that include contraception. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats (74%) and a majority of independents (56%) agree that these corporations should be required to provide this type of coverage, compared to only one-third (33%) of Republicans. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Republicans say privately-owned corporations should not be required to do this.
    • There are also dramatic differences by generation, with younger Americans expressing greater support for employer-provided contraception coverage across categories of employer.
      • Nearly 6-in-10 (57%) of young adults (age 18-29) say privately- owned corporations should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception, compared to 49% of seniors (age 65 and over). Young adults are also more likely to say that even churches and other places of worship should be required to provide this type of coverage (45% vs. 28%).

GOTW Chart 05 2014 640x304 Survey | Continued Majority Support for Employer Contraception Mandate,  Opposition to Allowing Small Businesses to Refuse Services on Religious Grounds

Refusal of Services by Small Business Owners on Religious Grounds

Americans overwhelming reject the notion that small business owners should be allowed to refuse to provide services or goods to individuals because they are gay or lesbian, atheist, Jewish or black, even if doing so would violate the owners’ religious beliefs. Fewer than 1-in-5 Americans say that small business owners should be able to refuse services on religious grounds to individuals who happen to be gay or lesbian (16%), atheist (15%), Jewish (12%), or black (10%).

  • White evangelical Protestants are somewhat more likely than Americans overall to say that small business owners ought to be able to refuse service to gay and lesbian people (26%) and atheists (21%), but they are not more likely to say the same about people who are Jewish (12%) or black (8%).

Perceptions of Threats to Religious Liberty

A majority (54%) of Americans believe that the right of religious liberty is being threatened in America today. However, there is substantial disagreement on this question by political affiliation, age and religious affiliation.

  • Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to say that religious liberty is being threatened (80% vs. 40%). A majority of Democrats (55%) say that religious liberty is not under threat in the U.S. Independents are more closely divided with 51% reporting that religious liberty is under threat, while 43% say it is not.
  • More than any other religious group, white evangelical Protestants believe that religious liberty is being threatened in the U.S. today. More than 8-in-10 (83%) white evangelical Protestants express this view, compared to 55% of Catholics and 53% of white mainline Protestants. Half (50%) of minority Protestants also perceive a threat to religious liberty in the U.S., but a substantial minority (42%) disagree. Less than one-third (31%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans believe religious liberty is being threatened, while twice as many (62%) say it is not.
  • More than 6-in-10 (61%) seniors (age 65+) believe that religious liberty is being threatened, while only roughly 4-in-10 (41%) young adults agree. Most (54%) younger Americans (ages 18-29) do not believe religious liberty is being threatened.

Concerns about the Role of Religion in Public Life

Americans are divided about what constitutes the greatest problem regarding the role of religion in public life. Thirty percent say the removal of religion from public places is the most serious problem, while 25% say government interference with free religious practice is the most serious problem. Roughly one-quarter (24%) say that religious groups attempting to pass laws that force their beliefs on others is the most serious problem, while fewer than 1-in-10 (9%) say the lack of protection for smaller religious groups is the biggest problem.

  • White evangelical Protestants are more likely than other religious groups to express concern about the removal of religion from public places. More than 4-in-10 (43%) white evangelical Protestants say that the public diminishment of religion is the most serious problem. Thirty-six percent of white mainline Protestants say the same. Catholics (28%) and religiously unaffiliated Americans (16%) are less likely to identify removal of religion from public places as a major problem.

Town Hall Meetings and Public Prayer

Nearly 8-in-10 (77%) Americans support allowing public officials to open meetings, such as town hall meetings, with a prayer. Only 20% of the public expresses opposition to prayer in these settings. There is considerable agreement in views about public prayer among religious, political and age groups.

  • Even a majority (58%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans support allowing public officials to open meetings with a prayer.
 Read the topline questionnaire, including the survey methodology, here. Read the news release here.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.