mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
Religion and Pluralism
Americans Warm Up to Religious Groups

Over the past few years, as rancor and division has increased, Americans’ feelings about all sorts of religious groups have become much more positive. According to a Pew study:

While Americans still feel coolest toward Muslims and atheists, mean ratings for these two groups increased from a somewhat chilly 40 and 41 degrees, respectively, to more neutral ratings of 48 and 50. Jews and Catholics continue to be among the groups that receive the warmest ratings – even warmer than in 2014.

Evangelical Christians, rated relatively warmly at 61 degrees, are the only group for which the mean rating did not change since the question was last asked in 2014. Americans’ feelings toward Mormons and Hindus have shifted from relatively neutral places on the thermometer to somewhat warmer ratings of 54 and 58, respectively. Ratings of Buddhists rose from 53 to 60. And mainline Protestants, whom respondents were not asked to rate in 2014, receive a warm rating of 65 in the new survey.

The increase in mean ratings is broad based. Warmer feelings are expressed by people in all the major religious groups analyzed, as well as by both Democrats and Republicans, men and women, and younger and older adults.

The poll has some other interesting findings. Younger Americans are more positive toward Muslims and atheists than are older Americans, but less positive toward Protestants and Jews—even though they remain positive toward those groups overall. Evangelical Christians, meanwhile, aren’t so hot on atheists—and vice versa. Across the board, Jews and Catholics receive the warmest ratings.

To your average open-minded American, these numbers probably aren’t very surprising. But to some, they fly in the face of established narratives. Most obviously, elements of the alt-Right will have a steeper hike than they thought in their efforts to brand Jews, Muslims, and others as threats to America. On the Left, meanwhile, these data complicate the story of rising Islamophobia.

Religious freedom is a cornerstone of American liberty, and it arises from more than abstract adherence to liberal philosophy. Americans traditionally like all sorts of religious groups. Even as the earth seems to be shifting under our feet, that hasn’t changed.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Disappeared4x

    Guess I should have not read a different analysis of same Pew Study earlier. Thought Buddhists and Hindus were the winners.
    Interesting conclusion here. Perhaps Pew should have made a distinction between Zionist Jews and All Other Jews, because the CTRL-Left sure does, reserving their death threats for Zionist Jews.

    The author’s conclusion referenced: “…Most obviously, elements of the alt-Right will have a steeper hike than they thought in their efforts to brand Jews, Muslims, and others as threats to America. On the Left, meanwhile, these data complicate the story of rising Islamophobia. …”

  • PCB

    Ok – twice Jews and Catholics, once in the quote, and again in the body of the post, are reported as receiving “the warmest ratings” – why all the hush on disclosing the actual ratings – exercising a little PC discretion, I suppose? Older Americans are probably also more likely to be surprised that “Atheism” has officially been characterized as a religious group – telling. As the Trump team seems very supportive of Jews and Israel, this would seem to dispose of the narrative that he and his group are invested with Alt-right elements and agendas.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “Islamophobia”

    A phobia is an irrational fear of something. Jihadist Muslims murdered 30,000+ people last year, and the rate has been rising throughout the Obama years. So, fearing Muslims isn’t irrational, it’s a commonsense reaction. Read the sign “Muslims Ahead”.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Today, before we take polls on how people view religion in America, the respondents should be told the election results from these groups before they opine—-as best we know them

    Jewish Americans went 24% Trump and 71% Clinton
    Catholics went 52% Trump and 45% Clinton
    Overall Protestants (including evangelicals) went 58% Trump and 39% Clinton
    Evangelicals (self described born again) went 81% Trump and 16% Clinton

    “As the earth seems to be shifting under our feet”, there is nothing wrong with assessing who shifted it, why they might believe what they do to want to shift it, and whether we are happy with the shift we get. Religion tipped the 2016 election. It is THE political story—–and since political issues are now front and center in the minds of many religious voters, this polarization is THE religious story in America too.

    • Tom

      “Today, before we take polls on how people view religion in America, the respondents should be told the election results from these groups before they opine—-as best we know them.”

      They already know that, FG–the media’s been beating your drum for months now.
      And apparently they’re not as hyperpartisan as you are.
      Get. A. Grip.

      • Jim__L

        He’s under the influence of the Democrats. They want to beat on religion, so FG beats on religion.

        How they got so deep into his head still baffles me.

        • Tom

          I think he can’t take the thought of being one of those people sneered at by the NYT.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service