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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls - Week Ending April 4, 2015

This Easter weekend marks the close of a bad week for those wishing to practice their religious faith without interference from the government.

Republican governors in Indiana and Arkansas backtracked on religious freedom laws, already common in a number of other states, in the face of widespread business and special interest criticism. The laws were seen by supporters as protecting the religious rights of individuals but were characterized by critics as anti-gay.

The debate over religious freedom laws continues. But voters send mixed signals: On one hand, they oppose a religious freedom law in their state, worried that it will discriminate against gays, but at the same time they believe more strongly that a Christian photographer should be able to turn down a same-sex marriage job for religious reasons, the very freedom that such a law protects.

Just over half of voters believe anti-gay discrimination is a problem in America, but many also still feel the government is oversensitive to the concerns of racial, ethnic, religious and social minorities.

America remains a solidly Christian nation. Two-out-of-three adults in this country still believe the central tenets of Christianity, that Jesus Christ was the son of God who was resurrected on Easter Day.  

Yet while Easter remains one of the most important Christian holidays, attendance at religious services is likely to be down this year.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of Americans think this country would be a better place if most people attended religious services on a regular basis.

For now, though, just 29% of voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

With the threat of radical Islamic terrorism continuing to dominate the news, Americans definitely do not feel safer at home.

Maybe this is a reflection of the changing demographics in the country, but Democrats by a 10-point margin now see Mexico as a better ally than Israel.

Five years after its passage by Congress, attitudes about Obamacare remain largely unchanged: Voters expect it to increase health care costs and hurt the quality of care.

Speaking of out-of-pocket costs, Americans are more supportive these days of everyone paying the same percentage of their income in taxes. 

Congress continues to earn slightly better marks than it has in quite awhile, perhaps because voters are a bit more likely to think they see eye-to-eye with their local representative.

Republicans have jumped out to a four-point lead on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

Bill Clinton made news when he declared nearly 20 years ago that the era of big government is over. Voters still prefer smaller, cheaper government but clearly recognize that Barack Obama, the next Democrat after Clinton to be in the White House, has reversed that trend.

President Obama earned a monthly job approval of 48% in March, unchanged from February.  His daily job approval rating remains similarly unchanged. 

In other surveys last week:

-- The University of Kentucky Wildcats are trying to achieve something no team has since 1976, but do March Madness followers think they can do it?

-- Just over half of voters still disagree with the Obama administration’s decision last year to swap several Taliban prisoners for POW Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan. The Army recently charged Bergdahl with desertion.

-- Looking back on the sex scandal that led to President Clinton’s impeachment, do Americans consider then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky a victim or a willing accomplice?

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