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The overwhelming majority of Americans support the strict separation of church and state when asked. Ninety-eight percent of nonbelievers support or strongly support strict separation, the highest percentage of all religious affiliations. Baptists are the least likely to support separation at 56%.

To have Baptist opinion leading the opposition to church-state separation is interestingly at odds with the Baptist Faith and Message, the statement of faith of the Southern Baptist Convention, which includes firm support for church-state separation. “Church and state should be separate,” it says, and “the state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind.”

This position was born in the early years of the denomination when Southern Baptist was a minority faith with the knowledge that any imposed version of God was not likely to be their own. Once Southern Baptists became the largest Protestant denomination in the US, many in both rank and file and the leadership underwent a change of heart.

The statement itself remains unchanged.

"Nic Frame is a sociology Ph.D. candidate at Purdue University. Their research focuses on non-religion, social movements, identity, and politics. Currently, their dissertation explores the nuances of the...

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