Americans Divided on Church-State Separation

Article excerpt

About half of Americans consider freedom of religion to be a top legal and guaranteed right, but a similar percentage think separation of church and state has become too severe or is not necessary in this country, a new survey indicates.

Asked which legal guarantee other than freedom of speech is most important. 52 percent of Americans cited freedom of religion, reported the Council for America's First Freedom. The Richmond, Virginia-based nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to promoting religious liberty, released results of its first commissioned survey September 14.

Nineteen percent of respondents chose freedom of the press, 16 percent picked the right to bear arms and 10 percent said freedom of assembly.

As to how they regard the separation of church and state, the respondents were evenly divided: 49 percent said it was important to keep religion and government separated, Another 29 percent said church-state separation has become "too severe and needs to be less . …