- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An overwhelming majority of Americans support the right of business owners to “follow their beliefs about marriage,” even as courts increasingly rule against bakers, florists and others who resist providing services for same-sex weddings.

A poll conducted for the conservative Family Research Council found that 81 percent of registered voters surveyed agreed with the statement, “Government should leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses.”

Support was strong among both churchgoers and non-churchgoers. Among those who said they attend church at least once a week, 77 percent agreed with the statement. Among those who said they never attend, 80 percent agreed.

The survey, released Tuesday at the National Religious Broadcasters Association convention, shows that Americans “think the government should stop twisting people’s arms on marriage and leave businesses alone to operate by their values as they see fit,” said FRC president Tony Perkins.

“WPA Opinion Research, who conducted the survey, said it’s almost impossible to find a stronger consensus on any issue — let alone a political hot potato like this,” said Mr. Perkins in a post on the FRC website.

The results reflect the findings of a Feb. 5 poll by the Associated Press-GfK that found 57 percent of those surveyed said business owners such as florists and “should be allowed to refuse service if they have an objection rooted in their religion,” the AP reported.

Small business owners such as florist Barronelle Stutzman in Richland, Washington, have drawn headlines for refusing to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies for religious reasons. A county court ruled against Ms. Stutzman last week, but she refused the state attorney general’s offer to settle the case for $2,001.

The FRC poll also found that 61 percent agreed that “states and citizens should remain free to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman and the Supreme Court should not force all 50 states to redefine marriage.”

As for marriage itself, 53 percent agreed with the statement that “marriage should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman.” Seventy-three percent of weekly churchgoers agreed with the statement, as opposed to just 30 percent of non-churchgoers.

WPA Opinion Research surveyed 800 registered voters by a live telephone operator from Feb. 2-4, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.


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