80% of Republicans support school prayer



Public Backs School Prayer
Most Agree With Student View in High Court Case

By Dalia Sussman

June 19 — Public support for school prayer extends beyond the classroom: Most Americans also say students should be able to lead prayers at after-school activities, such as sporting events.
The Supreme Court ruled today that student-led prayers before football games at a Texas public school violates the separation of church and state.
     But two-thirds of Americans surveyed for an ABCNEWS.com poll in March took the opposite view, siding with the school district’s contention that student-led prayer is a matter of free speech. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said students should be permitted to use the PA system to lead the audience in prayer at public school activities, such as sporting events. Fewer than three in 10 opposed it.

Permit students to lead prayers at after-school events
Should 67%
Should Not 27%

     That result is in line with polls on other aspects of school prayer. Last summer, for instance, Gallup found 70 percent support for “daily prayer to be spoken in the classroom.”
     The high court’ ruling is the first major school-prayer case to be heard by the Supreme Court since it ruled in 1992 that clergy-led prayers at graduation ceremonies are unconstitutional.

Campaign Issue
Presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush are at odds on the issue. Bush has backed his state’s school district in support of student-led prayer. Gore opposes student-led prayer, but supports what he terms voluntary prayer, such as a moment of silence for students to pray as they wish.
     While there’s a gap between Republicans and others in the poll, majorities in all political groups support student-led prayer — eight in 10 Republicans, compared to about six in 10 Democrats and independents.

Support student-led school prayer
Republicans 80%
Democrats 59%
Independents 61%

Other Groups
There are some other differences among groups. Lower-income and less-educated Americans are more apt to support student-led school prayer, so are Southerners and Midwesterners. Again, though, it’s supported by majorities in all groups.

This ABCNEWS.com survey was conducted by telephone March 22-26, 2000, among a random national sample of 1,011 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Field work by ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa.