U.S. Religious Freedom is Being Eroded, Advocates Say

January 16, 2008

Author: Jane Lampman

Source: The Christian Science Monitor


They are heroes in a battle most Americans think has already been won. On Wednesday evening, they are to be honored for their contributions to strengthening religious freedom at home and abroad.

Although the US is home to the greatest experiment in religious freedom ever, and the great majority of Americans support that principle, surprising gaps in knowledge and understanding remain when it comes to practicing that freedom. And support for it seems to rise and fall.

Only a slim majority (56 percent) of Americans said in a 2007 survey that freedom of worship should extend to people of all religious groups, no matter what their beliefs (down 16 points, from 72 percent in 2000).

"A great many Americans don't define religious liberty as a universal right for everyone," says Charles Haynes, one of the honorees. He is senior scholar at Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center, which conducted the survey.