Sixty-five percent of Democrats want religious freedom protected even if it violates the law, says poll

U.S. House Democrats walk out on the East Front on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., after their sit-in over gun-control law, June 23, 2016. | Reuters/Yuri Gripas

President-elect Donald Trump has been a staunch advocate of religious freedom, pledging to support such once if elected. A new poll, however, revealed that even Democrats want their religious freedom protected, with a majority of them indicating that they want to be able to exercise their faith, even if it conflicts with the law.

According to a survey conducted by The Marist Poll and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, 89 percent of Americans believe that religious freedom should be protected, with 57 percent regarding it as an "immediate priority." The sentiment cuts across political affiliations. While the figure is highest among Republicans, with 66 percent seeing such as an "immediate priority," Democrats and Independents follow closely at 55 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

Interestingly, the majority, or 65 percent of Americans, still believe in upholding religious liberty even if it violates the law. About 74 percent of Republicans stated such, but Democrats and Independents are not too far behind at 60 percent and 63 percent, respectively.

"Majorities of Americans – regardless of party – have embraced religious freedom and have rightly rejected the false notion that it is something negative. They overwhelming support the protection of our first freedom, the free exercise of religion," Supreme Knight Carl Anderson stated in a press release.

The survey, in which 2,729 adults participated, was carried out between Dec. 12 to 19, 2016.

Before the previous year ended, the "religious freedom" provision, otherwise known as the Russel Amendment, after its author Republican Representative Steve Russel of Oklahoma, failed to make it to the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act. The said provision would have expanded religious exemptions enjoyed by federal contractors and grant recipients.

Many organizations and professionals have long been struggling with following the law against their faith or conscience. Such include pro-life advocates in the medical field who are forced to assist in late-term abortion or sex reassignment procedures, as well as Christian wedding suppliers who are compelled to cater same-sex couples despite their religious reservations.