With Pope Francis being welcomed to the United States by President Obama and other government officials, it’s clear most Americans still see an essential place for religion in this country. But there’s been a sizable jump in the number who don’t think the government agrees.


A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of 1,000 American adults finds that 57 percent do not believe it is possible to have a healthy community without churches or a religious presence. Thirty-three percent disagree and think it is possible to have a healthy community without churches. Ten percent are undecided.


These findings are identical to attitudes in June 2013 when Rasmussen Reports first asked this question.


But a plurality (46 percent) of Americans also believes that the government today discriminates against people of religious faith. That’s a 13-point increase from the 33 percent who felt that way in January. Thirty-nine percent say the government does not discriminate, but that’s down from 44 percent in the earlier survey. Fifteen percent are undecided.


Among those who regularly attend religious services, sizable majorities now think the government discriminates against those of religious faith.