Most U.S. adults affirm the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, according to a YouGov report published in mid-June.
When asked, “Do you agree or disagree with the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from promoting or establishing a national religion?” 69% of respondents agreed. Only 10% disagreed, and 22% were unsure.
However, when the survey posed several questions about public school employees expressing their religious views in their official capacity, respondents were divided on when and how the Establishment Clause should apply.
More than one-third (38%) of U.S. adults said, “Public school employees [should] be allowed to publicly express their religious views at work,” while 38% said they should not be able to do so and 24% were not sure.
There was not a significant variation in responses across most demographic groupings save for gender, party affiliation and 2020 voters. Men (43%) were more likely than women (32%), Trump voters (51%) were more likely than Biden voters (25%), and Republicans (51%) were more likely than Democrats (34%) and Independents (33%), to say this should be allowed.
Regarding a public-school employee voicing “a prayer out loud at a school sporting event,” 45% said this should be allowed, while 27% said it should not be and 28% were unsure.
Older adults – 50% of respondents aged 45-64 and 49% of those 65-plus – were more likely than younger adults – 39% of 18-29-year-olds and 40% of 30-44-year-olds – to say that this should be allowed.
Republicans (67%) were far more likely than both Independents (39%) and Democrats (37%) to say it should be allowed.
Similarly, when asked about coaches at public schools leading players in a public prayer, 53% strongly / somewhat support this practice, while 28% strongly / somewhat oppose it, and 19% are not sure.
Older voters – 37% of respondents aged 45-64 and 32% of those 65 and older – were more likely than younger voters – 20% of 18-29-year-olds and 24% of 30-44-year-olds – to say they strongly support this practice.
Trump voters (53%) were more likely than Biden voters (14%), and Republicans (49%) were more likely than Independents (27%) and Democrats (18%) to strongly support such prayers.
The survey specifically referenced a case currently before the Supreme Court involving a football coach whose contract at a Washington state public school was not renewed as a result of praying at midfield after football games.
Half of all respondents said SCOTUS “should rule that a high school football coach leading prayers after his school’s football games is protected religious expression and free speech,” while 25% said the court should not and 25% were not sure.