A poll released by the Newseum Institute just before Independence Day had interesting findings about public perception of First Amendment freedoms. Notably, when asked to identify the 5 freedoms protected in the First Amendment, 57 percent of American adults named the freedom of speech (a drop from 68 percent in the Newseum Institute’s 2014 poll). However, religious freedom was only named by 19 percent of respondents (a 10-point drop from 2014). Free press and free assembly were recognized by 10 percent and the right to petition by 2 percent. Strikingly, a third of Americans could not identify any of the First Amendment freedoms.
Related to the recent Supreme Court ruling on marriage, a majority of respondents did not think it would impact religious freedom, while 31 percent said it would be harmful. Of those in the “harmful” category were 50 percent of Republican respondents and 19 percent of Democrat respondents. However, a majority (55 percent) also did not think businesses with religious objections should be forced to service same-sex weddings (a 10-point increase from 2013). In fact, those who strongly disagreed with coercion of wedding-related businesses jumped from 28 percent in 2013 to 42 percent in the most recent poll.
Among other findings, 70 percent of Americans disagreed with the premise that the news media attempts to report without bias. Also, half of Americans thought the Constitution establishes the U.S. as a Christian nation.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: July 10, 2015