A Rasmussen Reports survey found that voters overwhelmingly support religious leaders’ battle against Houston’s mayor over freedom of religion.
Annise Parker, Houston’s openly gay mayor, recently subpoenaed five local pastors and demanded that they produce all private communications, sermons, and speeches to be examined in light of a city ordinance in favor of gay rights. Parker has since backed off the subpoena request, exempting sermons, but still requiring all other forms of communication. The ordinance in question, which allows opposite-sex bathroom use, was challenged by these same five pastors.
According to the results of the survey, over 77 percent of Americans don’t think the government should have a right to subpoena sermons and subject pastors to prosecution for unpopular views. Only 14 percent disagreed, saying prosecution for religious opinions is justified. As high as 24 percent said that it is a hate crime to criticize gay marriage. However, the majority of Americans, at 63 percent, do not believe mere criticism or disagreement constitutes a hate crime.
Up to 78 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that religion plays a very important role in their life, compared to only 19 percent who disagreed.
Republicans and Democrats are strictly divided on the role of religion in politics. Slightly over half of Republicans argue that religious leaders don’t have sufficient influence over the political process, whereas 47 percent of Democrats believe religious leaders already possess too much influence.
The results have been consistent over several surveys. “These attitudes haven’t changed since we first asked this question five years ago,” said the Rasmussen analysis.
Rasmussen Reports polled 1,000 likely voters from October 17 to 18, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence interval.
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