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Do white evangelical Protestants actually believe that Democrats will strip them of their rights? In a study conducted by Denison University Professor Paul A. Djupe and Eastern Illinois University Professor Ryan P. Burge it was found that a majority of white evangelical Christians sincerely believe atheists would strip away their rights if given the chance.
The study says: Of those white evangelical Protestants, we found that 60 percent believed that atheists would not allow them First Amendment rights and liberties. More specifically, we asked whether they believed atheists would prevent them from being able to “hold rallies, teach, speak freely, and run for public office.” Similarly, 58 percent believed “Democrats in Congress” would not allow them to exercise these liberties if they were in power. By contrast, 23 percent think “Republicans in Congress” would not respect their rights; those were primarily the views of a small contingent of white evangelical Democrats in the sample.
The question is whether they really believe in all that or are they instructed to think so? According to conservative evangelical conspiracy theorist Rick Wiles, “The Democrats are forcing me to stockpile ammunition, food, water, and medical supplies to defend my family, home, and church.” Similarly, in a speech before the Values Voter Summit, Trump said that Democrats were coming for the rights of Christians, which he said he would resist if he stayed in office.
Professor Paul A. Djupe compared new results to the study he conducted three years ago to find out if those fears are founded. The results say ‘no’. The survey respondents from the old study were asked to choose the group they “liked the least” from a list that included atheists, Christian fundamentalists, immigrants, white supremacists, Muslims, Trump supporters, Hillary Clinton supporters and homosexuals. Almost a majority of the sample (49 percent) chose white supremacists as their least-liked group.
After that respondents were asked whether their selected group should be allowed to give speeches in the community, teach in public schools, run for public office and other liberties. Americans are not particularly tolerant of groups they dislike.
Only 30 percent are willing to allow their disliked group three or more such activities. But 65 percent of atheists and 53 percent of Democrats who listed Christian fundamentalists as their least-liked group are willing to allow them to engage in three or more of these activities. That’s a much higher proportion with tolerance than the sample overall.
On the other side, 13 percent of white evangelical Protestants selected atheists as their least-liked group. Of those, 32 percent are willing to extend three or more of these rights to atheists. In fact, when we looked at all religious groups, atheists and agnostics were the most likely to extend rights to the groups they least liked.
The conclusion is that atheists and agnostics wouldn’t strip away anyone’s rights and evangelical Christians would actually strip away atheists’ rights.