I fear, dear loyal church-state separationists, that this column may find you a little bone-weary from the dizzying array of attacks on religious freedom these days. So, I write to share some uplifting news.
Sixty percent of the country says that protecting the separation of religion and government is either one of the most important things to them personally or very important. And nearly half of likely 2020 voters (47 percent) say they would be more likely to support a candidate who would safeguard church-state separation, with only 11 percent saying they would be less likely.
How do I know this? Because this July, AU took the plunge into some new waters and conducted our first-ever public opinion research. The goals were twofold: to understand better where we are on our issue with the general public and among different demographic groups and to learn how best to connect with different audiences on the importance of church-state separation.
The first task was figuring out which public opinion research firm to hire. We went with Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, one of the nation's most respected and accurate polling firms, and a firm that has some experience polling on religious refusals.
Our poll surveyed 2,002 self-identified likely 2020 voters and included people of different ages and from different racial, religious, geographic and educational backgrounds. The poll was conducted in Spanish and English.
We know, especially after the 2016 election, that polls are not foolproof. And interpreting the results is not as straightforward as it might seem. That said, this poll offered many insights that will help guide our future work. It will also inform future public opinion research we do.
Let me tell you some more about the poll results. When we asked which church-state issues voters found most compelling, the answer was clear: Americans are concerned about "religious freedom" being used as a license to discriminate both in employment and concerning health care access. This issue has been in the news a lot lately, so maybe it's not surprising it topped the list.
When we asked what voters' top three priorities were specifically for Americans United, the results were quite similar: (1) ensuring that businesses, employers and health care providers can't use religion as a reason to discriminate; (2) ensuring taxpayer-funded organizations can't discriminate in who they hire based on the applicant's religion...