Gallup: Americans support mention of God in public square

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The majority of Americans have no problem allowing references to God in the public square, according to a recent poll.

A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll released Sept. 30 found that 90 percent said they approved of the inscription "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins, while only 8 percent disapproved and 2 percent had no opinion.

Also, 71 percent said that if they walked into a public school classroom and the teacher's desk had a Bible on it, they would consider that to be a good thing -- compared to only 18 percent who said it would be a bad thing and 9 percent who said it didn't matter.

A non-denominational prayer as part of the official program at a public school ceremony -- such as a graduation or a sporting event -- would be acceptable to 78 percent of those polled and unacceptable to 21 percent.

Regarding the much-debated display of the Ten Commandments, 70 percent said they thought it was OK to display a monument of the Commandments in a public school or government building, while 29 percent disapproved.

Likewise, 73 percent said they did not believe a monument to the Ten Commandments in a courthouse sends a message that the justice system gives special consideration to Jews and Christians over those who belong to other religions. Twenty-five percent said it does.

In other results:

-- 62 percent said they believe some people file lawsuits opposing such things as prayer in public schools or displays of religious symbols in government buildings because they are trying to protect themselves and others from having religion forced onto them. But 31 percent said they believe those who sue are trying to turn the United States into a godless society.

-- 58 percent said it is acceptable to display Christian symbols in public places or government buildings as long as symbols of other religions are also displayed. Twenty-nine percent said it is unacceptable to display any religious symbols at all, while 10 percent said it is acceptable to display only Christian symbols.

-- 54 percent said any time government promotes the teachings of a religion it can harm the rights of people who do not belong to that religion, while 40 percent said the government can do so without harming such people.

-- 60 percent said they believe religious leaders should not try to influence government policy on abortion, while 38 percent said they should.

-- 53 percent said religious leaders should try to influence government policy on prayer in public schools, while 46 percent said they should not.

-- 52 percent said religious leaders should not try to influence government policy on the death penalty, while 45 percent said they should.

-- 56 percent disapprove of the use of federal funds to support social programs like day care and drug rehabilitation run by Islamic religious organizations, while 41 percent approve. If those programs were run by Christian religious organizations, 64 percent would approve, 34 percent would disapprove.

-- 64 percent would disapprove of the display of a monument with a verse from the Koran in a public school or government building, while 33 percent would approve.

Poll results are based on telephone interviews with 1,003 adults across the nation conducted Sept. 19-21.


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