Nearly one in five Americans incorrectly believes that Muslim citizens don’t have the same First Amendment rights as other American citizens. Also incorrectly, one in seven believes that atheists aren’t protected by those rights.
These are among the findings of a new study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, which also found that a fraction of Americans surveyed — 15 percent — named freedom of religion when asked to name the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment.
Those rights are: freedom of religion, speech and the press, and the right of assembly and to petition the government.
“These results emphasize the need for high-quality civics education in the schools and for press reporting that underscores the existence of constitutional protections,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
More than one-third of those asked (37 percent) could not, unprompted, name a single First Amendment protection.
And only a quarter of Americans (26 percent) could name all three branches of the government (legislative, executive and judicial).