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Survey: 81% for religious freedom on marriage views

NASHVILLE (BP) — Contrary to the “inevitability” narrative most Americans have accepted of same-sex marriage, a new survey released Feb. 24 finds broad support for traditional marriage and protection of those who hold such views.

The survey, commissioned by Family Research Council in partnership with National Religious Broadcasters, found that 81 percent of Americans agree that government should “leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses.”

Additionally, 61 percent support the right of states and citizens to uphold traditional marriage, affirming the statement: “Supreme Court should not force all 50 states to redefine marriage.” The survey also found 53 percent of Americans agree marriage should be defined only as the union of one man and one woman.

The survey of 800 registered voters conducted by WPA Opinion Research was released at a news conference in conjunction with the NRB International Christian Media Convention in Nashville.

With the Supreme Court poised to rule this summer on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, FRC President Tony Perkins said the court “will be at a point of overreach if they impose a one-size-fits-all definition of marriage on the nation by redefining it.”

Major policy decisions should not be made without broad social consensus, Perkins said, noting the continuing cultural debate about the issue of abortion more than 40 years after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

“It’s clear, based on [this] polling, that Americans have not reached a broad social consensus that marriage should be redefined,” Perkins said.

Calling the findings “incredible,” NRB President Jerry Johnson said it is a “slam dunk” that more than 80 percent of Americans agree that citizens should be free to practice their faith — including in their businesses. Even 80 percent of those who never attend church agree, he noted.

“Government has no right establishing speech codes or business codes on marriage and 81 percent of Americans agree entirely,” Johnson said.

Johnson noted that NRB is an organization concerned with First Amendment rights of religion, speech and press and stated that the organization aims to become for the First Amendment what the National Rifle Association is to the defense of the Second Amendment.

Joining Perkins and Johnson at the news conference were the former owners of an Oregon bakery and a sports broadcaster who have been discriminated against for their support of traditional marriage.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Ore., are being threatened with $150,000 in fines because they declined to bake a same-sex wedding cake. In the wake of the controversy, the Kleins closed their business in 2013.

Aaron Klein, who now drives a garbage truck, said the new poll reflects how state governments and many in the judiciary are ignoring the voters’ wishes. Yet Oregon, in 2004, adopted with 57 percent of the vote a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Klein underscored “an obligation to the next generation to stand up for our constitutional freedoms, not given by man, but given by God,” whatever the cost resulting from such a stand.

Craig James, a former Fox Sports football analyst, was fired by the network in 2013 — 24 hours after being hired — when the network learned he supported traditional marriage as a 2012 U.S. Senate candidate in Texas.

“I hope that my situation becomes a poster child for employment discrimination,” said James, a former NFL running back with 20 years’ experience as a broadcaster.

“We have to be as bold and tenacious as those who are trying to trample” religious freedom, James said. “If we don’t, we will lose it.”