the Constitution, and people are less likely to say freedom to worship
covers religious groups they consider extreme, a poll out today finds.
The survey measuring attitudes toward freedom of religion, speech and
the press found that 55% believe erroneously that the Constitution
establishes a Christian nation. In the survey, which is conducted annually by the
First Amendment Center, a non-partisan educational group, three out of four
people who identify themselves as evangelical or Republican believe that the
Constitution establishes a Christian nation. About half of Democrats
and independents do.
ON THE WEB: Read the full poll results
Most respondents, 58%, say teachers in public schools should be allowed
to lead prayers. That is an increase from 2005, when 52% supported
teacher-led prayer in public schools.
More people, 43%, say public schools should be allowed to put on
Nativity re-enactments with Christian music than in 2005, when 36% did.
Half say teachers should be allowed to use the Bible as a factual text
in history class. That's down from 56% in 2000. Charles Haynes, a senior
scholar at the First Amendment Center, says the findings are
particularly troubling during a week when the top diplomat in Iraq gave a report to
Congress on progress toward achieving democracy there. "Americans are
dying to create a secular democracy in Iraq, and simultaneously a growing
number of people want to see a Christian state" here, he says.