A federal judge in Wisconsin recently struck down the National Day of Prayer, declared by Congress in 1952, as unconstitutional, following a court challenge by an atheist group.
But a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 60 percent of Americans favor having the federal government recognize a National Day of Prayer. Just 28 percent are opposed. Twelve percent (12 percent) are not sure.
Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist minister from Louisiana and president of the Interfaith Alliance, which includes representatives of many religious faiths, praised the judge’s decision, saying, “Maintaining clear boundaries between religion and government only serves to strengthen both.”
Forty-seven percent (47 percent) of Americans agree with Geddy’s statement, while 31 percent disagree. Twenty-one percent (21 percent) are not sure.
But at the same time, adults by a nearly two-to-one margin – 61 percent to 31 percent - favor prayer in public schools.
Americans also remain overwhelmingly in favor of allowing religious symbols to be displayed on public land and feel even more strongly that public schools should celebrate at least some religious holidays.
Sixty-three percent (63 percent) of Americans say they pray at least once a day. Fifteen percent (15 percent) say they rarely or never pray.
Eighty-two percent (82 percent) of Evangelical Christians pray at least once a day, compared to 77 percent of other Protestants, 54 percent of Catholics and 42 percent of those who practice other religions.
Eighty-two percent (82 percent) of those who pray several times a day and 67 percent of those who pray at least once a day support the government-recognized Day of Prayer. Sixty percent (60 percent) of those who rarely or never pray oppose it.
Seventy-four percent (74 percent) of those who attend a church, synagogue or mosque every week or nearly every week support the National Day of Prayer.
Those who regularly pray are more inclined to disagree that maintaining boundaries between government and religion is better for both. Sixty-three percent (63 percent) of those who rarely, if ever, attend religious services agree with that statement, a view shared by just 44 percent of those who attend a church, synagogue or mosque every week or nearly every week.
Sixty-seven percent (67 percent) of women favor prayer in public schools versus 55 percent of men.
Not surprisingly, support for prayer in school is much higher among those who regularly pray and regularly attend a house of worship. However, Evangelical Christians are much more supportive of school prayer than Catholics, other Protestants and those of other faiths.
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