The First Amendment states that “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This research explores American support for religious pluralism through an examination of attitudes toward religious freedom. Specifically, this project explores support for (1) the ability to choose one’s own religion, (2) the practice of religion in daily life without facing discrimination, (3) the practice of religious beliefs even when those are contrary to majority practices, (4) prayer or worship without fear of persecution, and (5) tolerance and respect regarding beliefs about God.
This research merges 2019 and 2020 Religious Freedom Index data to create a unique and comprehensive dataset of over 2,000 respondents. Preliminary analysis reveals that there are generational, racial, and gendered differences among attitudes toward religious pluralism freedoms. For example, Generation Z and Millennials are less supportive of religious freedoms than Generation X and Baby Boomers. In contrast, previous scholarship shows that religious identities have become more fluid leading younger generations to have higher interfaith tolerance, diversity, and inclusion. This research breaks the bounds of previous scholarship by exploring the potential reasons for this apparent contradiction. As technology advances and demographics shift toward greater diversity, our perspective on First Amendment freedoms is crucial to understanding fellow Americans and the future path of our pluralistic society.