Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pew survey says Muslims-Americans nearly as popular as Evangelicals :: Ethics Today

(Via titusonenine.)

Pretty potent stuff. Recommended reading. Here are some extracts:

The survey by the Pew Research Center For The People & The Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life focused on views of Islam and Muslim-Americans in light of the July 7 terrorist attacks in London.

Among findings, 55 percent of Americans said they held a favorable view of Muslim-Americans. That is well below a 77 percent favorable rating for Jews or 73 percent for Catholics, but just two points behind the 57 percent who view evangelicals favorably.
. . .
People have a less positive view of Islam in general than of Muslim-Americans in particular. Just 39 percent view Islam favorably, while 36 percent regard it an unfavorable religion. But 55 percent said they hold a favorable view of Muslim-Americans, compared to 25 percent who view Muslim-Americans with disfavor.

While Muslim-Americans have grown in popularity over the last two years, from 51 percent favorable in July 2003 to 55 percent today, evangelicals lost ground. Fifty-eight percent rated evangelicals favorably and 18 percent unfavorably in 2003. In 2005 the percentages shifted to 57 percent pro and 19 percent con.

While America’s Protestant-dominated social structure in the past has been accused of being anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic, both of those groups are today viewed far more favorably than evangelicals.

Among the religious spectrum, only atheists are held in lower regard than evangelicals. Thirty-five percent view people who don’t believe in God favorably, and half view them unfavorably.

The numbers point to what some have described as the evangelical paradox. Evangelicals make up about a quarter of the population, many of their churches are thriving, they are credited with helping President Bush win re-election and some believe they control the Republican Party. Yet surveys show they feel misunderstood and excluded by secular society.

Do some math: If evangelicals are a quarter of the population, and they all regard themselves favorably, then what percentage of the rest of the population regards them favorably? (Side note: I wonder how the survey classified respondents. If respondents gave their denomination, then some of them could be classified evangelical even though they don't self identify as evangelical and have a negative view of evangelicals as defined through the media.)

More, on differences between evangelicals and other Protestants on their view of Islam:

half of evangelicals said they still believe Islam is more likely than other religions to cause violence, about the same percentage as two years ago. Among non-evangelical white Protestants, meanwhile, the 50 percent who viewed Islam as more violent in July 2003 dropped to 28 percent in the current survey.
The entire report is here (pdf). I note that there you see that the favorable rating of evangelicals in the early 1990s was around 43 percent, so the rating of evangelicals is higher now.

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