Mr.TinDC is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mr.TinDC is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Civic education is the need of the hour
Only 79 percent surveyed thought atheists have the same rights as other American citizens as per a new survey conducted by Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. 76 percent of respondents believe that Muslims have equal rights like other U.S. citizens. It is apparent that one American out of five think atheists do not enjoy equal rights. The list of ignorance gets extended when it comes to basic constitutional provisions.

The survey found that 53 percent of United States residents hold an incorrect view that illegal immigrants in America do not enjoy any kind of rights as per the U.S. Constitution. 37 percent of the respondents are unable to name any rights as guaranteed by First Amendment. Only 26 percent of U.S. residents can name the government's three branches. According to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center, “Protecting the rights guaranteed by the Constitution presupposes that we know what they are. The fact that many don’t is worrisome. These results emphasize the need for high-quality civics education in the schools and for press reporting that underscores the existence of constitutional protections.”

48 percent of the respondents proclaim that freedom of speech under the U.S. Constitution is a right ensured by First Amendment. However, 37 percent could not name a single First Amendment right sans any prompting. Much fewer respondents could name First Amendment rights. Freedom of religion is named by 15 percent of respondents. 14 percent mentioned the freedom of the press and 10 percent named the right of assembly. Only three percent mentioned right to petition the government.

What's worrying is about 39 percent of Americans, despite the First Amendment, support permitting Congress to prevent news media from reporting any kind of national security issue without the approval of the government. This remains unchanged from 2016. The survey, however, which was done after a year of attacks being done on news media, discovered that opposition was less when it came to prior restraint (49 percent). It was 55 percent in 2016.

The First Amendment rights include freedom of speech, press, and religion. It also includes right of assembly and petitioning the government.


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