Even if America strongly believes in religious freedom, the public is still cold in welcoming Muslims.
The United States has long been considered as the “Land of the Free” not only in terms of exercising personal and civic rights but also when it comes to belief and practice of any particular religion. But based on the latest study conducted by LifeWay Research, even if America strongly believes in religious freedom, the public is still cold in welcoming Muslims.
The interesting results of the survey of 1,000 respondents are as follows:
The first aspect of the survey focused on the idea whether religious freedom should be considered as every American’s basic right. The results were as expected. 95% of the respondents believe that everyone should have the freedom to choose a particular religion and to practice it with other believers. 94% cited that people should be free to practice their belief in everyday life. 92% agreed on the freedom to build churches and other places of worship while 90% believes that there should also be freedom for anyone to share his/her own beliefs to others.
The only survey question that received a low score is the practice of religion in running a business. 78% of the surveyed individuals agreed that business owners should have the freedom to observe their religious beliefs in running their businesses. This is in line with the recent issues where certain businesses chose not accommodate customers because of the owner’s belief like the sale of wedding goods for gay couples.
On the perception of America as a Christian Nation
There’s also the common knowledge that the U.S. is perceived as a Christian nation. But the survey suggested otherwise saying that 69% of the public consider America as a Nation of Many Religions. Only 19% of the respondents think that the U.S. is a Christian nation. 9% believes that it’s a secular nation while the smaller 2% is undecided.
LifeWay Research vice president Scott McConnell explained this result. According to him “Do they define Christian nation in terms of population or by ideology”. If it’s by mere numbers or population, Christianity is a sure winner but in terms of ideology, everyone must remember that Americans understood the country as a product of racial and religious diversity.
On America as a welcoming country for religions
The final aspect of the survey involved the question whether the U.S. is a welcoming place for the different religions. And based on the results, Christians are very much welcome in the country at 92%. The next are the Jews at 87%. On the bottom of the results are Muslims which only received the score of 57% and Atheists at 67%.
Even with the growing population of Muslims in the United States, the group is still considered not welcome by many. Thus, it’s not surprising to hear news of discrimination committed by individuals and businesses against this religious minority.
Ibrahim Hooper of the American-Islamic Relations made a comment on the study. According to him; instead of interpreting the survey on the negative side, it’s better to think that “people are hoping they are welcoming”. There’s also the need to find out “How welcome do Muslims feel in America”?