A new poll is out about which faith group members in America are most eager to base U.S. law on their understanding of religion.
Members of the Religious Right would be quick to say it must be Muslims – but it’s not. The religious group that most wants to impose its faith on us through law is (drumroll) white evangelical Christians. Surprise! Who saw that coming?
The poll, conducted by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) in partnership with the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University, examined the views of American religious communities on several issues. It’s a wide-ranging poll, but for the question we’re looking at today, respondents were offered three statements and asked to choose the one that is closest to their point of view.
The statements were: “Your religion should be the MAIN source of American law,” “Your religion should be a source of American law but not the only source” and “Your religion should NOT be a source of American law.”
Among Muslims, 12 percent chose the first option, and 33 percent went with the middle option. Fifty-one percent endorsed the final option, saying Islam should not be the source of American law.
White evangelicals were much more theocratic. Seventeen percent want their faith to be the main source of U.S. law, and a whopping 54 percent want it to provide the source of some of our laws. Only 27 percent said that evangelicalism shouldn’t be the source of our laws at all.
The question was also asked of Jews, Roman Catholics, Protestants and the unaffiliated. I won’t repeat all of the results here, but I will tell you that no other group surpassed white evangelicals in their desire to have our laws reflect their faith. The question was also asked among the “general public” – a term ISPU doesn’t define – and those figures came in at 9 percent backing their religion being the main source of law, 29 percent calling for their faith to be the source of some laws and 62 percent asserting that their faith should not form the basis of laws.
The poll’s results are borne out in real life. Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser was quoted recently in The Washington Post about efforts to create “Bible literacy” classes in public schools. I’m not aware of attempts by any other religion to do that or things like it. Muslims aren’t pushing for “Quran literacy” courses. American Jews don’t have a deceptive Project Blitz equivalent that aims to persuade state legislators to pass laws merging synagogue and state. U.S. Hindus don’t host a “Values Voter Summit” every year where they plot and scheme with elected officials about how best to force all of us to live under their religion’s dictates.
The next time someone tries to scare you with stories of creeping sharia in your town, think twice. The Christian fundamentalist theocrats among us pose a much more serious threat.
(Photo: Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore addresses the Family Research Council's 2017 Values Voter Summit)