examine public attitudes toward concrete issues of church-state
These data are from the 1984 National Election Study conducted by the
Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan
In our focus-group data, several respondents were uncomfortable with the
dichotomies posed by these questions. As one respondent noted with respect to
the second item: "Basically, those two categories are too limiting. . . . They're
really two separate questions. With the high wall, we're talking about all religions. The other is whether the Judeo-Christian heritage and government should
be together. What about government and all religions?"
Interestingly, this respondent was quite active in the home-schooling movement and had educated three of her children at home through the primary grades
In fact, there are eight possible combinations if missing data are considered
After careful inspection of the patterns of responses (both of demographic and
religious predictors of positions on the abstract questions, and of specific positions
on concrete establishment issues), we have coded those who are missing on one
question as holding a consistent position in favor of separation or establishment
These respondents differed slightly in their demographic profile from those who
genuinely took a consistent position on both issues and were virtually indistinguishable from them in their responses to concrete establishment questions
Of course, this is in fact a free-exercise issue and does not deal directly
Only two questions dealt with establishment of non-Christian religions --
funding for Buddhist chaplains and allowing displays of Jewish candles on city
property. More than half of all respondents who took this combination of abstract
positions favored both of these policies. But a prerequisite to favoring aid to
religions is tolerance of their practice. Approximately a third of respondents who
took these two abstract positions favored allowing Hare Krishnas, the followers of
the Reverend Moon, and Muslims to practice in America. Approximately one in
ten favored free exercise for Satan worshipers and opposed limits on "cults"
Of course, this problem occurs in other categories as well
Because respondents could select from five options on each of three questions, there were myriad response patterns. Nearly 70 percent of the Washington,
D.C., area respondents fell into the categories mentioned, however
At one Ohio Moral Majority meeting, the Baptist pastor titled his sermon
"Roman Catholic Church: Harlot of Rome"
We can think of two possible explanations for this pattern. First, blacks
and Hispanics may be skeptical of protecting the nation's Judeo-Christian heritage because it elicits a connotation of preserving the dominant American culture,
from which non-whites (like Jews) may feel excluded. Alternatively, both groups
may be more likely than whites to favor government support of private institutions, including churches
We also performed discriminant analysis of the four categories shown in
Table 3.1. The logistic regression results are more easily interpretable.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Public Attitudes toward Church and State.
Contributors: Ted G. Jelen - Author, Clyde Wilcox - Author.
Publisher: M. E. Sharpe.
Place of publication: Armonk, NY.
Publication year: 1995.
Page number: 75.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may
not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.