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Most religious Americans oppose faith-based service refusals to gay couples, poll finds

(Reuuers/Joshua Roberts)Supporters of gay marriage wave the rainbow flag after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry at the Supreme Court in Washington June 26, 2015.

A new poll has revealed that a majority of Americans who identify as religious are in favor the legalization of same-sex marriage. The poll further indicated that a majority also oppose policies that allow business owners to refuse services to gay couples.

The survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute has found that 58 percent of Americans are in favor of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.

Only three religious groups have shown majority opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage. Fifty-five percent of Mormons, 61 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 53 percent of Jehovah's Witnesses do not support the legalization of gay marriage.

African-American Protestants were evenly split on the issue with 45 percent in favor of gay marriage and 45 percent who oppose. Among Hispanic Protestants, 41 percent support same-sex marriage and 46 percent were opposed.

Muslim respondents were also split with 44 percent who support legal gay marital unions and 41 percent who oppose.

The survey results also found that a majority of religious Americans do not favor allowing businesses to refuse services to gay couples based on religious objections.

Sixty-one percent of all Americans were not in favor of allowing business owners in their state to refuse to provide products or services to same-sex couples based on their religious convictions.

White evangelicals were the only religious group that does not have a majority opposition to faith-based service refusals. Fifty percent of white evangelicals were in favor of giving business owners the right to refuse to provide services or products while 42 percent were opposed.

Other polls suggest that the wording of the question makes a difference whether people support religious-based service refusals.

In 2015, an Associated Press-GfK poll indicated that 57 percent of Americans support the right to dissent from servicing same-sex weddings while 39 percent were opposed, according to The Washington Times.

That same year, the Family Research Council asked respondents whether the 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." Eighty-one percent of the respondents said yes.

Mark Tooley, president of the D.C.-based think tank Institute on Religion & Democracy, said that PRRI's question on faith-based refusal "shows tremendous bias by framing the question around denial of goods and services to persons, which is not the presenting issue."

"A more even-handed question would have asked if businesses and persons must, by law, be compelled to actively participate in specific ceremonies and events that violate conscience," Tooley told The Christian Post.

"Should a gay business owner, for example, be compelled to actively cater to and participate in a Muslim conference condemning homosexual behavior? A more fairly phrased question would have gotten different answers," he added.

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