America is becoming less and less protective of the religious freedom affirmed by the First Amendment. Although older generations still tend to protect it, younger Americans (specifically those under 30) are not quite so supportive. In fact, there are many young Americans that stand in direct opposition to this freedom that sets our country apart from so many.
It must be noted that not every American disregards the importance of religious liberty. For example, The Newseum Institute, an organization that “promotes, explains and defends free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition”, recently released a report titled “The State of the First Amendment”. Some of the results are very telling. Of the 1,009 people surveyed, 22.5 percent state that the protection of First Amendment freedoms goes “too far”; 68.6 percent disagreed with that position.
Discussing freedom of religion, 58.8 percent agreed that freedom of religion applies to ALL religious groups, no matter if they are considered “extreme” or “fringe”. 60 percent of respondents supported freedom of worship; however, this number dipped noticeably for the 18-29 age group, falling to 49.4 percent. When asked if certain religions (specifically Islam) should be held to a greater level of scrutiny, even if it infringes on their religious liberty, 33.1 percent agreed, and 62.1 percent disagreed.
Although some of those numbers are encouraging, there are several that should be higher. A recent poll from the Pew Research Center broke down some religious liberty issues by age. Out of the Americans aged 18-29, 75 percent thought that it should be mandatory for employers to provide birth control within the insurance plan, no matter their religious opposition.
59 percent of this same age category thought that wedding-related businesses should be forced to provide services for same-sex weddings, no matter their religious views. Additionally, 67 percent of Americans between 18-29 years old think that transgendered people should be allowed to use whichever restroom they choose.
Michael Moreland, a professor of law and religion at Villanova University stated:
“Younger people now tend to be a little less religious, which makes them less sympathetic to religious freedom claims. They also show a strong sense of concern about discrimination.”
Religious affiliation has decreased among young Americans over the past few generations. In 2014, 35 percent of Millennials denied any religious affiliation. This trend away from any established religion definitely has a role in the lack of protection for religious liberty among Millennials and young Americans.