Republicans tend to be Second Amendment absolutists. The NRA and their representatives in Congress haven’t yet weighed in on the specific issue of, say, banning assault rifles in LAX, but they just might argue that such a law would be an unconstitutional infringement of the right to bear arms.
The First Amendment begins, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” and when it comes to the Establishment Clause, Republican ideas become a bit more nuanced. Here are the results of a recent YouGov survey. The question was, “Would you favor or oppose establishing Christianity as the official state religion in your state?”
Democrats and Independents oppose the establishment of Christianity – “strongly oppose” is their modal response. But a majority of Republicans favor making their state a Christian state, and of those, most (two-thirds) are in the “strongly favor” pew.
This is not to say that Republicans are unaware of the Establishment Clause. “Based on what you know, would you think that states are permitted by the constitution to establish official state religions, or not?”
Republicans are slightly more likely than Democrats to say that the Constitution does not permit state religions. They just think that on this one, the framers of the Constitution got it wrong.
Republicans are only a bit less enthusiastic about establishing Christianity as the official religion of the entire country. “Would you favor or oppose a Constitutional amendment which would make Christianity the official religion of the United States?”
A plurality, 46% – almost a majority – want to correct the Framers’ careless omission by amending the Constitution. We can’t know specifically what the people who favor this have in mind. Republicans themselves probably differ in their ideas. Maybe only symbolic gestures, like invoking Jesus’s blessing on public events. Maybe public indoctrination – requiring Christian prayer and Bible reading in the public schools. Or maybe more tangible forms of support – giving taxpayers’ money directly to Christian organizations for explicitly religious purposes.
In any case, this is an interesting piece of data to keep in mind for next time a representative of the political right argues that the Constitution is unamendable and inflexible.
Cross-posted at Montclair SocioBlog.Jay Livingston is the chair of the Sociology Department at Montclair State University. You can follow him at Montclair SocioBlog or on Twitter.