Saturday, April 02, 2011

Religion and free speech

GSS respondents were asked if a person who is against churches and religion should be allowed to speak in your community. Here are the percentages who answered yes listed by religious affiliation:

Agrees that anti-religionists should be allowed to speak (sample size = 33,069)

Protestants 65.6
Catholics 73.0*
Eastern Orthodox 91.9*
Christian 76.1*
Nondenominational 84.6*
Jews 83.4*
Muslim 59.3
Hindu 73.9
Buddist 84.7*
No religion 88.7*

A majority in each group, Muslims included, is in favor of free speech. Most groups support it at a higher level than Protestants.  Although not shown, Jews, Orthodox, and those with no religion have significantly higher levels than Muslims.

In results not shown, more religious people (i.e., those who attend services frequently) are less likely to favor allowing the person to speak. This was true of all religions except for Buddhists and Orthodox Christians (three cheers for the Orthodox). The link was by far the strongest for Muslims: religious Muslims are much more likely to favor censorship.


  1. Nice article, thanks for the information.

  2. Eastern Orthodox favor letting nonbelievers speak? Is that a matter of small sample size, or is there some theological wrinkle I'm not aware of?

    Personally I don't see why you'd want to ban speech by nonbelievers...isn't this America, after all? You want this to be like Germany with the Holocaust denial laws or England with the laws against racist speech?

  3. It is true that the Orthodox sample is small--36 cases. I'm not aware of theology that places priority on free speech.


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