A slim majority (54%) of U.S. adults support the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District that “a public high school football coach can pray on the field after games,” according to a report from AP-NORC published on September 29.
Born again Christians (79%) were more likely than non-born-again Christians (62%) to support the ruling, while respondents for whom religion was important in their lives (77%) were more likely than those for whom religion was not important (36%). Republicans (77%) were more likely than both Independents (52%) and Democrats (37%) to approve of the SCOTUS decision.
Overall, respondents were not overly concerned about several possible implications of the Kennedy v. Bremerton ruling, with a majority saying they were “not very” or “not at all” concerned about the follow scenarios:
- Other school officials might begin praying with students during school: 59%
- Some might feel less welcome to play sports: 53%
- Students could feel pressured to participate in the post-game prayers: 51%
A majority of Democrats and of respondents for whom religion is not important in their lives are extremely / very / somewhat concerned about each of these three scenarios.
Respondents were presented with four scenarios regarding prayer in schools in response to the question, “Do you think each of the following should be allowed or not be allowed in a public school?”
- Teachers or other school officials leading a prayer in class: 51% said it should not be allowed.
- Students leading a class in prayer: 51% said it should be allowed.
- Teachers praying in the classroom, but not asking the class to join in: 57% said it should be allowed.
- Religious leaders saying a prayer at a graduation ceremony or other school function as part of the official program: 61% said it should be allowed.
A majority of Democrats and of respondents for whom religion is not important in their lives said that each of these four scenarios should not be allowed, while a majority of Independents said the first and second scenarios should not be allowed.
The nation is evenly divided in its views on the amount of influence religion has in sports and in public schools. Respondents were presented with four scenarios and asked to respond to the question, “Overall, do you think that in the United States religion currently has too much influence, about the right amount, or too little influence on each of the following?”
- What children are taught in public school: 30% too much; 31% about the right amount; 36% too little.
- Public high school sports: 25% too much; 46% about the right amount; 27% too little.
- College sports: 24% too much; 50% about the right amount; 24% too little.
- Professional sports: 25% too much; 48% about the right amount; 25% too little.
No demographic grouping had a majority who said “too much” for any of the four areas surveyed, while a majority of both Republicans and of respondents for whom religion is important in their lives said there is “too little” religious influence in public schools.