Most Americans agree that Christians are treated worse today than they were in the past. Yet a significant minority think they complain too much.
These are among the findings included in a new report on religious tolerance from Lifestyle Research, which regularly conducts surveys of American religious life. The data showed that even non-Christians are feeling a rise in anti-Christian intolerance, said Scott McConnell, the organization’s executive director.
“Members of other religions take notice,” he said. “They’re minorities in America and they’re like, ‘Wow. American culture does not tolerate the Christian faith.’ »
The report also highlighted concerns about the state of religious freedom, a term that refers to laws protecting the ability of people of faith to freely live out their beliefs. More than half of American adults (54%) said religious freedom is on the decline in America today, including 40% of those who do not identify as a member of a religious group.
Given that the survey presented in the report was conducted in September 2021, it does not take into account how the recently concluded mandate of the Supreme Court could have changed public opinion. It is possible that the court’s decisions to overturn Roe v. Wade and protecting a football coach’s right to pray at school, among other decisions, “turned the tide a bit,” McConnell said.
But he thinks the numbers would have remained fairly stable, as those polled were likely considering much more than how Christians fare in court. “Religious freedom” may be reminiscent of court rulings, but “tolerance” is more about how people are treated in daily life, McConnell said.
“Some of this plays out in courtrooms and legislatures, but the word ‘intolerance’ is more on the social side,” he said.
As McConnell noted, a big victory in the Supreme Court doesn’t necessarily lead to better treatment at home. Legal victories sometimes do the opposite by inspiring negative reactions from the public.
For example, following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, several churches and denominational pregnancy resource centers have been vandalized by proponents of abortion rights. And the recent court ruling in favor of the football manager has led to calls on social media for students to refuse to play for him if he returns to work.
Controversial legal victories can also increase the apathy that worried Christians often face. More than a third of American adults (36%) already think Christians complain too much about how they’re treated, though many of those same Americans agree that religious intolerance is on the rise, Lifeway Research found. .
“When it comes to religious beliefs and practices, people with no religious affiliation … and non-evangelicals are among the most likely to say that American Christians complain too much about how they are treated,” the report said.
Taken together, the results of the Religious Tolerance Survey show that the country still has some way to go before Americans of all stripes are on the same page when it comes to what Christians need and what they deserve,” McConnell said.
“There aren’t many contexts where real dialogue takes place,” he said.