Results from a new Barna Group survey show that Americans are significantly worried over the state of religious freedom in the nation. More than half of American adults feel strongly (29 percent) or somewhat strongly (22 percent) that religious freedom will be restricted more and more in the coming five years. A third of all adults feel restrictions have already begun and have grown worse in the past 10 years; 60 percent of evangelicals agree.
Ninety percent of Americans agree that “true religious freedom means all citizens must have freedom of conscience, which means being able to believe and practice the core commitments and values of faith.” However, more than half of Americans believe “religious freedom has become more restricted in the U.S. because some groups have actively tried to move society away from traditional Christian values.” Nearly all evangelicals (97 percent) agreed with this statement.
Nearly a quarter of Americans believe traditional Judeo-Christian values should dominate the decisions made in government, but two-thirds of Americans say no one set of values should be given preference. In addition, younger Americans are much less concerned about religious freedom than the rest of the generations. Only 19 percent of younger Christians (18 to 28 years old) are very concerned about the restriction of religious freedom.
David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, said the research raises the question as to why Christians are so much more concerned about religious freedom than any other group. “What is it that Christians are trying to protect and why do they feel under threat? Is it possible that evangelicals are interpreting a loss of religious privilege as a loss of religious freedom? Or is there something significant at stake that evangelicals are more tuned into than most?”