A vast majority of millennials view religious liberty as important, yet they seem to be confused as to what the term exactly means, according to data from a newly-released Amicus Communications study.
While 95% of polled millennials claimed to view religious liberty as vital, a stunning 49% thought religious businesses should be forced to participate in a ceremony that violates their religious beliefs.
Respondents were given the following two statements and told to choose the one they agree with:
1. There is a difference between a business serving people equally and forcing a business to participate in a ceremony that violates their religious beliefs. We should respect religious freedom of these people.
2. There is no difference between illegal discrimination and a business person refusing to provide services to a gay wedding ceremony for religious reasons. We should enforce anti-discrimination laws against these people.
Despite nearly all of the respondents saying they viewed religious liberty as essential, only 50% agreed with the first statement while 49% agreed with the second.
Millennials think religious freedom "is merely just a choice, and it’s troubling to see that so many don’t know what it means more than just choosing — it means practicing that faith in a meaningful and authentic way,” said President of Amicus Communications Emily Hardman during the 2017 Black Leadership Summit.
Hardman, as reported by Desert News, also highlighted other troubling data from the study:
• 58 percent of millennials agree that “Religion is personal and should not play a significant role in society.”
• Millennials are 13 percent more secular than older generations.
• Religious liberty considered by millennials as “very important” is a rate significantly less — by 8 percent — than older Americans.
• Millennials agree about 10 percent less than older demographics on statements like “Involvement by churches and religious leaders helps communities solve problems” and “Religious values make families more stable and helps make better communities.”
When asked to rank a list of ten rights and freedoms, the young generation identified being "treated equally under the law, the right to choose one’s own religion, and the right to free speech and expression" as the three most important rights.
Hardman suggests the best way to promote religious liberty to an increasingly secular generation is to underscore all the "good" from such groups.
"You have to show that religious freedom matters and that it makes a difference in society, showing the good that religious institutions bring to society, the amount of people they care for, the fact that the religious service in this country counts for $6 billion of our U.S. economy, the number of homeless that are given shelter because of religion, the number of people fed because of religion. You have to show that good," explained the Amicus president.
Hardman added that showing the link between religion and "the very core of their human dignity" is essential: "show that religious belief above any other right is what makes us human, that ability to seek truth, to embrace truth and to express that truth is core to what it means to be human," she said.