5/06/05 David Granger, 334/844-9999 (grangdm@auburn.edu)
Jim Seroka, 334/844-4781 (jseroka@auburn.edu)

SURVEY FINDS ALMOST ALL ALABAMIANS ARE RELIGIOUS AND WANT PRAYER BACK IN SCHOOL

AUBURN – Nearly all (96 percent) of Alabamians surveyed profess to be religious, no surprise in a state which is in the heart of the “Bible Belt.” Similarly, there is overwhelming support for a return to prayer in state schools.

These are among the findings of a recent Ask Alabama public opinion survey, conducted by the Center for Governmental Services at Auburn University. Ask Alabama releases periodic results of polls on topics of interest to Alabamians.

The vast majority (92 percent) favors silent prayer or meditation at the opening of the school day, with only slightly less support for open verbal prayer in class. A similar number favors prayer at the beginning of school sports events.

“This indicates that Alabama’s residents perceive the benefits of formal school prayer in the public schools far outweigh any concerns regarding separation of church and state,” says Ask Alabama director Jim Seroka. “Most Alabamians clearly prefer that court-imposed restrictions on public prayer in schools be relaxed.”

Opinion on religion in class instruction is more moderate. When questioned on preferences between the theory of evolution versus creationism or intelligent design, only 8 to 12 percent favored teaching one explanation over another.

“Most agree that religious-based explanations should be given a place in the public school classroom,” notes Seroka. “However, if given a choice, most Alabamians (62 percent) would prefer public school teachers be able to present both religious explanations and evolutionary theory.”

Other findings of the Ask Alabama poll on Alabamians and Religion in the Schools include:

* 47 percent of Alabamians surveyed characterize themselves as very religious.

* 49 percent consider themselves to be somewhat religious.

* Only 3 percent consider themselves as not religious.

* 86 percent support an opening school prayer; 11 percent discourage it.

Complete results of the Ask Alabama poll on “Alabamians and Religion in the Schools” can be found at www.askalabama.org. The poll had a sample size of 603 resident Alabamians 19 or older, and an estimated margin of error of +/- 4 percent. Ask Alabama telephone surveys on issues of interest to Alabamians are conducted quarterly. Each survey will include questions on three distinct topics and poll results will be released monthly.

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