An annual first amendment study, which gauges American attitudes toward issues such as freedom of religion, speech and the press, found that the majority of Americans believe the founding fathers (65 percent) and the Constitution (55 percent) established the U.S. as a Christian nation.
Released Sept. 12 by the First Amendment Center, the survey found that 58 percent believed teachers should be allowed to lead students in prayer, compared to 52 percent last year; 56 percent of respondents believed freedom of religion applies to all groups regardless of how extreme their views are, down from 72 percent in 2000; and 43 percent said schools should be allowed to have Nativity plays with Christian music.
Though the figures indicate widespread Christian sentiment in modern society, Gene Policinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center, said that doesn’t technically mean America was founded as a Christian nation.
“People are applying their own values ... rather than educated knowledge of the Constitution,” he told USA Today, which he said “clearly establishes the U.S. as a secular nation.”
The survey, dubbed “State of the First Amendment 2007,” has been conducted annually since 1997.