While President Donald J. Trump reportedly is expected to issue a new executive order impacting immigration on Wednesday, a newly released poll shows support for temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States is declining among most Americans except for one group: white evangelical Christians.
The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) on Friday released a poll showing 61 percent of white evangelical Protestants surveyed this month supported a temporary Muslim ban. That support has grown about 6 points since a similar survey was conducted in May, according to PRRI.
Among all other religious groups categorized by the institute, support for the ban has declined since the May survey. A majority of respondents in all other groups surveyed – white Catholics, white mainline Protestants, non-white Protestants and religiously unaffiliated Americans – did not favor the ban.
That echoes the responses the institute received from Americans overall: only 35 percent support a ban, down from 40 percent in May.
“Roughly six in ten (59%) Americans oppose the ban,” wrote researchers Daniel Cox and Robert P. Jones. “Views have been roughly stable since spring 2016 when a similar number (58%) of Americans expressed opposition to the ban.”
Americans United strongly opposes Trump’s efforts to follow through on his campaign promise to ban Muslim immigrants and refugees. We’ve filed friend-of-the-court briefs in two federal cases in Virginia and Washington State, arguing his Jan. 27 executive order to temporarily bar immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries violates religious freedom by singling out one religious group – Muslims – for discrimination based solely on how they worship.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals kept the Muslim ban on hold nationwide on Feb. 9. Days later, a federal judge who blocked the ban from being implemented in Virginia referenced the conflict between Trump's executive order and the First Amendment's guarantee that government can’t single out a religion for disfavor – the basis for AU's argument in the case.
Most Americans oppose a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants.
The PRRI poll also broke out support for a temporary Muslim ban by political affiliation. About 65 percent of Republicans support it, compared to 10 percent of Democrats and 36 percent of Independents. Nearly 60 percent of Democrats said they strongly opposed the ban – an increase of more than 20 percentage points since May.
A host of polls released since Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order have offered conflicting results on whether the majority of respondents favor or oppose some type of travel ban. Huffington Post summarized eight polls issued in the week following the order: three found more people approved of the ban than disapproved; five polls found the opposite.
HuffPo and Politico noted wording of the polls’ questions – whether they included Trump’s name or the words executive order, travel ban or terrorism – may have made a difference, as well as whether the surveys were conducted with live interviewers, recorded instructions or online.
At Americans United, we’re not the least bit conflicted: Any attempt to single out and discriminate against people based solely on their religion is unconstitutional and un-American. We’ll continue to fight against attempts to use religion to justify discrimination.