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Survey: Americans Shocking Ignorant on First Amendment Rights

If there’s a clue as to why so many Americans these days seem so clueless about so many important issues, it might be this: Across the board, Americans are woefully and shockingly ignorant about their rights and freedoms as specified by the U.S. Constitution. That was proven by the most recent State of the First Amendment (SOFA) survey, which the Freedom Forum Institute (FFI) completes every year.

The survey was completed by the Fors Marsh Group along with Lata Nott and Gene Policinski of FFI.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It’s so important and so short that everyone should be able to memorize it in a matter of minutes. But not only do most adults not have it memorized, but many of them know almost nothing about it.

Key Survey Results

The SOFA survey of 1,009 U.S. adults, which took place in May and June 2018, found:

  • Just one person was able to name all five freedoms that are specified in the First Amendment
  • 2% of respondents knew that the First Amendment gives the right to petition the government for redress of grievances
  • 12% knew the First Amendment mentions the right of peaceful assembly
  • 13% knew the First Amendment mentions freedom of the press
  • 15% knew the First Amendment mentions freedom of religion
  • 56% knew the First Amendment mentions freedom of speech

Some survey respondents got confused and thought rights that are not in the First Amendment, such as the right to vote and the right to bear arms, are in the First Amendment.

When it comes to how many freedoms each person in the survey could remember, the results were equally alarming:

  • 40% of respondents couldn’t name even one freedom given by the First Amendment
  • 36% could name one
  • 12% could name two
  • 8% could name three
  • 3% could name four

Although these results are clearly bad, as least they are not any worse than they have been since 2016. But that’s nothing to brag about. Americans need to learn and exercise their rights, period.

Concerns and Solutions

If Americans do not know their rights and freedoms, how can they be expected to exercise or defend them? How do they know when their rights are being violated, and how would they know what to do about that? It is very dangerous indeed to think about how horribly ignorant many Americans in general are. The Founders of this country would definitely be appalled, to say the least. They envisioned a country in which citizens would know, cherish and protect their freedoms.

How has the ignorance come about? One obvious contributing cause is the poor quality of education that people are receiving in public schools. Certainly students at some point should be required to thoroughly learn about the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments to the Constitution).

It’s not too late for adults who don’t know basic information, such as the rights specified in the Constitution. With the easy access that most people have to the Internet, it’s simple enough for people to educate themselves by searching for information about the Constitution. Once people have mastered that information, they should go on to other important topics, such as the Declaration of Independence.

~ Patriotic Freedom Fighter

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