How Young Americans View Religious Freedom

Dec. 15 2022

A recent study, commissioned by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, attempts to measure American attitudes toward religious pluralism and religious tolerance, as well as the related constitutional questions. Focusing on what the results reveal about Generation Z (those born in the late 1990s and afterward), Kelsey Dallas writes:

The good news is that most of the country is generally supportive of religious rights—especially when those rights ensure that members of minority groups feel safe living out their faith. . . . The bad news is that skepticism about religious freedom has a clear source, and it’s one that will exert a growing influence over the country in years to come.

The new research showed that members of Gen Z were less likely than members of other generations—often by a wide margin—to “accept and support” policies that protect the right of people of faith, including religious business owners, to hold unpopular or controversial beliefs. For example, just one-third of Gen Z said individuals who believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman should be protected from discrimination, fines or other penalties, compared to 44 percent of respondents overall.

One possible explanation for these trends . . . is that Gen Z is the least religious generation. Around one-third of Gen Z identifies as religiously unaffiliated, compared to 29 percent of millennials, 25 percent of Generation X, and 18 percent of baby boomers, according to the Survey Center on American Life.

While 85 percent of respondents correctly noted that free speech is one of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, just 47 percent remembered that it also protects religious freedom, the survey found.

Read more at Deseret News

More about: American Religion, First Amendment, Freedom of Religion

How Israel Can Break the Cycle of Wars in Gaza

Last month saw yet another round of fighting between the Jewish state and Gaza-based terrorist groups. This time, it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began the conflict; in other cases, it was Hamas, which rules the territory. Such outbreaks have been numerous in the years since 2009, and although the details have varied somewhat, Israel has not yet found a way to stop them, or to save the residents of the southwestern part of the country from the constant threat of rocket fire. Yossi Kuperwasser argues that a combination of military, economic, and diplomatic pressure might present an alternative solution:

In Gaza, Jerusalem plays a key role in developing the rules that determine what the parties can and cannot do. Such rules are designed to give the Israelis the ability to deter attacks, defend territory, maintain intelligence dominance, and win decisively. These rules assure Hamas that its rule over Gaza will not be challenged and that, in between the rounds of escalation, it will be allowed to continue its military buildup, as the Israelis seldom strike first, and the government’s responses to Hamas’s limited attacks are always measured and proportionate.

The flaws in such an approach are clear: it grants Hamas the ability to develop its offensive capabilities, increase its political power, and condemn Israelis—especially those living within range of the Gaza Strip—to persistent threats from Hamas terrorists.

A far more effective [goal] would be to rid Israel of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively that threatening Israel is indisputably against its interests. Achieving this goal will not be easy, but with proper preparation, it may be feasible at the appropriate time.

Revisiting the rule according to which Jerusalem remains tacitly committed to not ending Hamas rule in Gaza is key for changing the dynamics of this conflict. So long as Hamas knows that the Israelis will not attempt to uproot it from Gaza, it can continue arming itself and conducting periodic attacks knowing the price it will pay may be heavy—especially if Jerusalem changes the other rules mentioned—but not existential.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad