Faith Leaders on Religious Liberty

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A crop of buzzwords spring up at the intersection of public life and religious expression. RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. CIVIL RIGHTS. CULTURE WARS. PROTECTED CLASS AND DISCRIMINATION. LGBT RIGHTS. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE. FIRST AMENDMENT PROTECTIONS.

The future of public life for people of faith, houses of worship and religious organizations hinges on how leaders—religious, political, community and beyond—understand and advance a healthy vision for the issues these buzzwords represent. This report is the culmination of a project commissioned by the Maclellan Foundation to examine faith leaders’ views on matters of religious liberty. It includes research primarily from Barna, supplemented by data from additional studies to frame current issues and events. Its primary focus is on how Christian pastors and other faith leaders perceive challenges and opportunities related to cultural trends and their impact on religious freedom, but also included are findings from research among the general U.S. population for comparison and context. Taken together, the data represent the broadest study Barna has yet undertaken on the ways faith in general and Christianity in particular are perceived, expressed and limited in the public square. The backbone of the research is a two-year national study conducted by Barna among U.S. clergy comprised of random, representative interviews with 1,963 evangelical, mainline Protestant and Catholic pastors as well as clergy outside of the Christian tradition, including Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Mormon and other faith leaders. We also interviewed an over-representative sample of African American Protestant pastors. We are grateful for the time so many leaders invested in these surveys to share their views with the Barna team. The goal for this research report is threefold: 1) to offer accurate insights about the views of American faith leaders and U.S. adults on current issues; 2) to frame the context into which these findings fit; and 3) to generate a range of questions and ideas that will inform the faith community’s response going forward.


Faith Leaders on Religious Liberty

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