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How the Supreme Court and Americans Diverged Over Religion at Work

  • July 10, 2020

On these issues, surveys suggest most Americans disagree with the court. In 2018, a Public Religion Research Institute study found that — in addition to expressing widespread support for nondiscrimination protections — a majority of Americans thought that employers should cover birth control as part of their workers’ health care plans, even when those employers were religious hospitals (59 percent said so), religiously affiliated colleges and universities (54 percent) and small businesses run by religious individuals (53 percent).

Robert P. Jones, the founder of PRRI, said that with marriage equality and L.G.B.T.Q. nondiscrimination protections now embraced by a wide majority of Americans and enshrined by the court, religious conservatives are leaning heavily on the argument that faith can be used to justify actions that would otherwise be unconstitutional.

“When you’ve lost the war, the question is how can you win a few battles, and I think that’s where the religious exemptions argument really comes into play,” Dr. Jones said. “The question is, how big can the carve-out be for religious exemptions? And even though we have a majority of Americans opposing those, it’s a much more complex argument, and we see much more ambiguity.”

The Supreme Court’s recent decisions on exemptions will affect many lives: Religious organizations employ over 1.7 million people, and the court has now significantly loosened the terms for when those people can be fired. As many as 126,000 women could lose contraceptive coverage as a result of the other decision.

And when it comes to the court, Democrats in particular say they are paying attention. According to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll from April, Democratic voters are slightly more likely to name the Supreme Court as a key voting issue than Republicans and independents: Forty-four percent of Democratic voters called it a crucial voting issue, while 37 percent of Republican voters and just 29 percent of independents did.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/us/politics/supreme-court-religion-polling.html

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