Mich. survey finds strong support for religious freedom

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A poll of likely Michigan voters shows strong support for the freedom of religious organizations to provide public services consistent with their faith.

“Michigan residents are clearly stating that faith-based organizations have a right to adhere to their religious tradition when serving the public,” said Paul Long, President and CEO of the Michigan Catholic Conference.

“Many of these institutions, including those that are Catholic, have been providing charitable and educational services for hundreds of years free from government interference,” he said Oct. 3.

The Michigan Catholic Conference commissioned the survey from Marketing Resource Group.
Eighty percent of 600 likely Michigan voters said that religious organizations should have the freedom to provide “educational and charitable assistance” to the general public in accordance with their own religious beliefs without government interference. Sixty-nine percent of all respondents strongly support these organizations’ freedom.

Only 14 percent of respondents said the religious organizations should not have that freedom.

The religious freedom of institutions that serve the general public has come to the forefront in 2012. The Department of Health and Human Services mandated that most employers of 50 employees or more provide health insurance coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-causing drugs.

The move fell especially hard upon Catholic institutions. Catholic teaching recognizes contraceptive use, sterilization and abortion as sinful and rejects close cooperation in their procurement.

The mandate’s narrow religious exemption only covers religious organizations that serve and employ primarily their co-religionists, not those that serve the general public. This led many Catholic opponents of the mandate to say Catholic organizations would have to stop serving and employing non-Catholics.

Long said the present day is “a precarious time for religious liberty.”

The Michigan Catholic Conference is among the over 80 individuals and institutions that have filed suit against the Obama administration challenging the mandate.
According to the conference’s poll, a majority of many different Michigan demographics support religious organizations’ freedom, including 70 percent of 2008 Barack Obama voters, 77 percent of passive pro-choice persons, and 64 percent of self-identified liberals.

The survey claims a margin of error of plus or minus four percent. It was conducted Sept. 10-15 by phone, including cell phones.

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