Civitas Poll: NC Voters Say Yes to Christian Prayer at Government Meetings

Raleigh, N.C.Four out of five North Carolina voters don’t object to prayers referring to Jesus being said to open meetings of a public body, a new poll by the John W. Pope Civitas Institute has found.

The latest skirmish over public prayer came earlier this month at the Rowan County Commission. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had asked commissioners to stop opening meetings with religion-specific prayers. At the March 2 meeting, however, Commissioner Jon Barber prayed in Jesus’ name, referred to “the salvation of Jesus Christ,” and declared the name of Jesus to be “the only way to eternal life.”

“It appears the people of North Carolina are much more tolerant than the ACLU when it comes to religious speech in the public square,” said Civitas Institute President Francis De Luca. “They don’t feel threatened or intimidated by words alone.”

Four out of the five Rowan commissioners reportedly contend that religion-specific prayer is acceptable because they themselves, not a member of the clergy, give the invocations.

“It might also be that North Carolinians respect elected officials’ own right to speak freely,” De Luca said. “In any event, whatever happens in this case, a strong majority of the people here accept mentions of Jesus at invocations to start governmental meetings.”

Full text of question:

Do you object to a member of an elected body or a citizen offering an opening prayer ending with the words, “In Jesus or Christ’s name” at a meeting of a government body?

19%     Yes

79%     No

2%       Don’t Know/ Refused

The Civitas Poll is the only regular live-caller poll of critical issues facing North Carolina.  For more information on Civitas polling see http://www.nccivitas.org/category/poll/.

For the full results and crosstabs, click here.

This poll of 600 likely 2012 general election voters in North Carolina was conducted February 27-28, 2012 by National Research, Inc. of Holmdel, NJ.  All respondents were part of a fully representative sample of likely 2012 general election voters in North Carolina.  For purposes of this study, voters interviewed had to have voted in at least one of the past three general elections (2006, 2008, 2010) or be newly registered to vote since November 2, 2010.

The confidence interval associated with a sample of this size is such that: 95 percent of the time, results from 600 interviews (registered voters) will be within +-4% of the “True Values.” True Values refer to the results obtained if it were possible to interview every person in North Carolina who had voted in at least one of the past three general elections or is newly registered since November 2, 2010.