Freedoms Not Protected
Asked how well they feel the federal government is protecting various rights and freedoms, the resulting response patterns suggest that Americans believe the government is not doing its job on their behalf. Fewer than one out of every ten SAGE Cons – conservatives who are active in both their personal spiritual development and in political matters – believe that the federal government is protecting each of five distinct freedoms very well. Those freedoms included protection against unreasonable search and seizure; speech; owning and bearing arms; religion; and privacy.
The freedom that people were most likely to say the government is doing a very good job of protecting is the right to vote. However, only slightly more than one-third of all SAGE Cons (37%) gave the government a top score on this matter. About one out of every seven SAGE Cons (15%) said they believe the government is doing a very good job of protecting the right to freely assemble.
The survey by the American Culture and Faith Institute also indicated the degree to which these religious conservatives are dissatisfied with how well the government is guarding their freedoms. They were about twice as likely to say the federal government is not protecting their right to free speech and from unreasonable search and seizure “at all” as to say the government is doing the job very well. They were three times as likely to say their right to own and carry firearms is not being protected at all as to say it is being guarded very well. And they were four times more likely to submit that the rights to the free exercise of religion and the right to personal privacy were not being guarded at all as to say the feds are doing the job very well.
Unanimity on Two Desires
The survey also provides insight into two related issues on which SAGE Cons displayed near unanimity.
Ninety-nine percent of the group believes the phrase “one nation, under God” should remain in the Pledge of Allegiance. Under the Obama Administration there has reportedly been some discussion of removing the phrase.
Similarly, 99% of SAGE Cons favor returning voluntary prayer to public schools. Such prayer was removed from the schools in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1962.
Serious Concerns Revealed
“Conservatives are acutely aware that the federal government is assaulting their freedoms, and radically reshaping the country in the process,” said researcher and author George Barna, who directed the research study. “It’s one thing for the talking heads to say that Mr. Trump is simply reflecting the emotions of a minority group of angry and disgruntled voters. But it’s something altogether different when you examine the roots of that anger, how deep it runs, and that it is being expressed by a segment of the public that generally restrains its emotions.
“A majority of the religious conservatives interviewed gave the federal government a failing grade on protecting four of the seven freedoms we studied,” he continued. “Among religious conservatives this disillusionment is real, crossing age groups, denominations, gender, and income levels. When you ignore, eliminate, or reverse constitutional freedoms, people feel as if their country is being taken away from them. In the absence of elected officials representing the peoples’ interests, anger and frustration are natural reactions.
“That anger has been further fueled by an intrusive court that banned voluntary school prayer, a practice that has virtually universal support among religious conservatives,” Barna noted. “Top it off with another all-but-unanimous desire – protecting the ‘one nation under God’ section of our Pledge of Allegiance – and it becomes clear why the 2016 election has become deeply emotional for millions of people. And that includes many who have never been involved in the process before.”
Barna ended his comments by pointing out that there was not a single freedom among the seven tested in the survey which a majority of SAGE Cons believed was being very well protected by the government.
About the Research
The survey was conducted among 2,130 individuals who are participants in a longitudinal study of SAGE Cons. The survey was conducted online from March 15 through March 29, 2016.
The study was conducted by the American Culture & Faith Institute, which is a division of United in Purpose, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The mission of United in Purpose is to educate, motivate and activate conservative Christians related to the political process. The organization does not support individual candidates or political parties.
The survey respondents were individuals who were screened and surveyed in 2015 and invited to participate in a series of surveys during the 2016 election season. This was the second in that series of surveys. A sample of 4,800 people was randomly drawn from the larger base of consenting participants to respond to this survey. The response rate among those contacted was 44%. The results represent the views of SAGE Cons, not the general public from which they were drawn.
SAGE Cons are qualified as adults who are registered voters; conservative on political matters; have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior; are active in pursuing their Christian faith; and are actively engaged in politics and government. They represent about 12% of the national population.
Additional information about this and related research is accessible on the American Culture & Faith Institute website, located at Culture Faith.]]>