'Should we pass laws that would affect Christian Right?'--Survey targets members of religious faith, raises alarms

Posted: October 19, 200911:14 pm Eastern

By Bob Unruh © 2009 WorldNetDaily

A Survey launched by university faculty members in Texas is raising alarms over its suggestion that there should be additional laws "that would affect members of the Christian Right."

According to an e-mail from the Texas Freedom Network, the survey by David A. Williamson at the University of North Texas asks: "Do you think that we should pass laws that would affect members of the Christian Right? If you do want to pass such law(s), what would they be and why."

Dave Welch, executive director of the U.S. Pastor Council, said if the survey had listed any other category of American citizen, there would have been a storm of protest.

"What we want to find out is who initiated it, what was its intent and who was paying the costs," he said. "We intend to find out [what is going on]. We'll do an open records request to this university if we need."

Williamson, whose school website page cites his "special interests" in medical sociology, traditional medicine in sub-Saharan Africa and the sociology of religion, did not return a telephone message left by WND. A spokesman in the department's office declined to comment, and the university media relations office promised to look into the survey.

One Texas taxpayer was outraged.

"The was pretty appalling that this would be going on," Pam Lutrell, a journalism teacher and columnist, told WND.

Welch said the very idea of government neutrality towards religion is being blown apart by the questions in the survey, which include: "What is the most negative thing you can say about the Christian Right?"

Welch said the Texas Freedom Network, which distributed an e-mail promoting the survey, is "overtly hostile to Christians."

He said there is no way an organization would get away with surveying about the desire for laws to apply to any subject other than Christianity. He called it a simple demonization of Christians.

Williamson said in a statement promoted by the freedom network, "since the advent of the so-called 'culture wars' many have explored the motives and actions of groups in the religious right who work to impose their religiously grounded values on the broader society, particularly through political influence. We are interested in learning more about those who oppose such efforts since they have been neglected in social science research."

The survey states its intent is to assess the attitudes of those who oppose "the political agenda of the Christian Right."

The survey asks participants to rate on a 0-100 scale "your feelings about some religious groups in American society." Listed are Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Jews, Mormons and Hindus.

It then asks participants to "define" the Christian Right and describe their own attitudes toward it.

"Imagine that you choose who is going to be your neighbor. Please rate the desirability of having one of the following individuals as your neighbor," the survey said, giving options of "a vocal Republican who is not a Christian" and "a vocal Christian who is apolitical."

Welch said it certainly "would appear" that discrimination against Christians is being suggested.

The survey then asks personal information such as income, education level, age, race, marital status and children.

"The fact this survey is funded by state-funded institution raises red flags all over the place," Welch said.

Among other questions, the survey asks people for their level of interest in same-sex marriage, stem cell research and sex education