Press Release

BREAKING: Becket releases its fifth edition of the Religious Freedom Index The 2023 Index shows strong support for parental rights and rising trust in people of faith

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON In celebration of Religious Freedom Day, Becket has released the fifth edition of the Religious Freedom Index, the nation’s only annual poll that tracks American opinion on religious freedom. The 2023 Index marked the highest overall score in the Index’s history, showing that Americans are increasingly unified in supporting religious liberty for people of all faiths. This year’s poll demonstrated strong support for parental rights, broad trust in people of faith, and insights into how Gen Z thinks about religious freedom. 

Support for religious freedom hit its highest score ever of 69 on a scale of 0 to 100. The 2023 results found that Americans strongly back the right of parents to raise their children consistent with their faith and believe that religion is part of the solution to America’s problems—up nine percentage points from last year. Polling showed a major shift in attitudes toward preferred pronoun policies in schools, with a 12-point swing since 2021.

“The American people sent a clear message in this year’s Index: parents don’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to raising their children,” said Mark Rienzi, president and CEO of Becket. “Parents want schools to teach their children math and science, not force them to embrace controversial gender ideology.” 

The fifth edition of the Index asked a variety of questions about parental rights in education. Over two thirds of Americans (67%) believe that parents should be the primary educators of their children and should be able to opt them out of school curriculum if the parents believe the material is inappropriate or violates their religious beliefs. Americans also expressed disagreement over preferred pronounce policies in schools. Becket’s findings reveal that most Americans (58%) now disagree with school policies that require students and employees to use a person’s preferred pronouns. This data represents a 12-point swing since 2021, when less than half of Americans disagreed with pronoun mandates and 54% favored them.  

The Index also asked about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a core piece of religious liberty legislation that turned 30 in 2023. Becket asked Americans about the RFRA standard, which says that the federal government cannot burden religious freedom unless they have a 1) a compelling reason or 2) have chosen the option least restrictive of religious freedom. An overwhelming 88% of Americans favored RFRA or an even stronger standard for religious freedom.

“Despite some efforts to turn religion into a scapegoat for our nation’s problems, most Americans believe that religion—and religious freedom—are key to solving them,” said Rienzi. “As we celebrate Religious Freedom Day, we should remember that religious liberty remains the cornerstone of our effort to form a more perfect union.”  

The Religious Freedom Index is designed to give a broad overview of changes in American attitudes on religious freedom by surveying a nationally representative sample of 1,000 American adults each fall. The Index’s focus on core religious liberty principles, contextualized with questions on some of the year’s most pressing societal issues, provides a yearly cross section of public sentiment on the intersection of law, religion, and culture. The responses to these questions statistically group into six dimensions: 1) Religious Pluralism, 2) Religion and Policy, 3) Religious Sharing, 4) Religion in Society, 5) Church and State, and 6) Religion in Action. 

Heart+Mind Strategies conducts surveying and scale construction for Becket’s Religious Freedom Index: American Perspectives on the First Amendment, using an online panel assembled by Dynata. Becket contributes its broad expertise representing people of all faiths in religious liberty cases to ensure that the polling instrument and analysis broadly reflect America’s many diverse religions and the full spectrum of religious liberty issues. 

To learn more about Becket’s annual Religious Freedom Index, visit the link found here. 

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7219.