While the "abstract" of such funding "bothers a lot of people," he said, when the particulars of a situation are explained-the use of government funding for a church's soup kitchen or a religious group that helps trafficking victims-people are usually more amenable to it.
Another common debate today over religious freedom, Carney said, is the freedom of churches and religious organizations to publicly hold beliefs deemed by some to be controversial and/or discriminatory.
For instance, failed Democratic presidential candidate Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke said in an October townhall that churches should face the removal of their tax exempt status if they teach that marriage is between one man and one woman.
Catholic adoption agencies have already closed their doors in some states, Carney said, and under such a mentality "you're seeing the church retreat from the public square." In these cases, the poor suffer, he said, but it also "reduces the appeal of the church" if its members or clergy are not seen in the public square.
For one of the questions of the importance of religion in the life of respondents, 43% answered that religion was "extremely" or "very" important, and 27% said it was "somewhat" important. 30% answered that it was either "not very" or "not at all" important.
Nearly six in ten respondents said it was "absolutely essential" or "very important" to act to protect religious freedom.
A majority (57%), given two different scenarios of a business owner or private organization "holding unpopular views" believed by some to be discriminatory, said that their belief was "somewhat" or "exactly like" that the owner or organization should be allowed to have their belief without losing their job or business.