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.
pduggie — November 5, 2013
"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."
Well, the framers allowed for state religions, if you mean the original framers. There were established churches or religious tests for state offices in several states at the founding. Incorporating the bill of rights vs the states after the civil war amendments led to states being seen as also prohibited, as well as congress, from establishing state religions.
Elena — November 5, 2013
Republicans are only a bit less enthusiastic about establishing Christianity as the official religion of the entire country.
Well, possibly some of them aren't Evangelical Protestants. It's not my cultural milieu, but I assume there's a remembrance in American Catholicism of the persecution of Catholics in the UK back then?
Ricky — November 5, 2013
"Congress haven’t yet weighed in on the specific issue of, say, banning assault rifles in LAX"
Aren't "assault rifles" already banned in all of California?
3A5UC — November 5, 2013
not to mention the comitant increase in taxes to fund a state church (like in germany)
Charles Richter — November 5, 2013
The National Reform Association, in its various forms, has been trying to pass a "Christian Amendment" since 1863. They came closest in 1954, when a Senate Judiciary subcommittee heard testimony for the amendment, which would have acknowledged "the authority and law of Jesus Christ, Savior and Ruler of nations, through whom are bestowed the blessings of Almighty God." The supporters, primarily Reformed Presbyterians, specifically argued that it had been an oversight on the part of the framers to not include God in the Constitution.
[links] Link salad knows the cider’s laced with acid | jlake.com — November 6, 2013
[…] Who Wants a Christian America? — Republicans tend to be Second Amendment absolutists. That whole First Amendment establishment clause, on the other hand, is just so much liberal garbage. Ask any Republican. […]
The_L1985 — November 6, 2013
So much for the Golden Rule...I'm pretty sure they wouldn't want us "godless heathens" enforcing our religious views on them, but the other way around? Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!
Sarah — November 6, 2013
I found the results of this poll really shocking, thanks for bringing it to our attention! However, I have to say that the way you wrote this article is a lazy pot shot at Republicans. Look how astonishingly high the numbers are among democrats and independents as well! Even though Republicans are so much higher, I think the big news story is that regardless of political affiliation there is substantial support for state religion - this is not some fringe opinion just among tea party activists! Also, I clicked on the link to the original data, and there are some VERY interesting differences by age and educational level that you didn't even note in your rush to castigate Republicans.
As a last point, since this blog is written by scientists, it would be helpful for us readers if you could give some indication as to how rigorous this YouGov's sampling and polling strategy was.
Who Wants a Christian America? | Progressive News & Politics — November 8, 2013
[…] http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/11/05/who-wants-a-christian-america/ […]
Abe Blue — November 10, 2013
All this article says to me is that Americans don't even understand the First Amendment. We are seriously dumbed down in this country and need to start asking real questions. Our school systems are designed to school not educate. Our food and environment are loaded with toxins. Our media is state run. Our politicians are corrupt and elitist. Our money is controlled by the Fed behind closed doors with zero accountability.
Weekend Reading | Backslash Scott Thoughts — November 10, 2013
[…] Who Wants a Christian America? […]