The UCLA Higher Education Research Institute has released “The American Freshman:  National Norms for 2010.”  The data have troubling implications for the future of religious liberty, both on campus and beyond.

First, the #2 “current religious preference” (after Roman Catholic, which was #1 at 26.6%) is “none” (23.0%).  It is my sense –  based admittedly upon experience and anecdote rather than empirical study – that those who profess no religious beliefs are often least likely to respect and acknowledge the religious freedom of others.

Second, 76.5% agreed that “gays and lesbians should have the legal right to adopt a child.”  Those who support the homosexual legal agenda are frequently unwilling to accommodate religious exercise perceived to be in conflict with that agenda.  For example, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts told Catholic Charities it would either have to place adoptive children with same-sex couples in violation of its religious beliefs or get out of the adoption business.  Although support for adoption by same-sex couples does not necessarily mean opposition to religious freedom, it usually does.

Constitutional protections of religious freedom (and of many other freedoms) reflect an unassailable empirical reality:  that majorities sometimes do not respect freedom.  Growing support of the homosexual agenda, combined with a significant numbers of those professing no religion, is cause for concern — concern that majorities will not give religion the space to operate that our constitution requires.