More See “Too Much” Religious Talk by Politicians

A new survey finds signs of public uneasiness with the mixing of religion and politics. The number of people who say there has been too much religious talk by political leaders stands at an all-time high since the Pew Research Center began asking the question more than a decade ago. And most Americans continue to say that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of politics.

Nearly four-in-ten Americans (38%) now say there has been too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders, while 30% say there has been too little. In 2010, more said there was too little than too much religious expression from politicians (37% vs. 29%). The percentage saying there is too much expression of religious faith by politicians has increased across party lines, but this view remains far more widespread among Democrats than Republicans.

Public Priorities: Deficit Rising, Terrorism Slipping

Economic issues continue to be the public’s highest priority as the 2012 State of the Union approaches. Fully 86% say that strengthening the economy should be a top priority for the president and Congress this year, and 82% rate improving the job situation as a top priority.

The annual policy priorities survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 11-16 among 1,502 adults, finds that the federal budget deficit stands out as the fastest growing policy priority for Americans, largely because of increasing Republican concerns about the issue. Fully 69% rate reducing the budget deficit as a top priority — the most in any of the Pew Research Center’s annual policy priority updates going back to 1994.

Most American Muslims are satisfied Obama backers

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A majority of U.S. Muslims are content with the nation’s direction in contrast to many Americans and few Muslims believe there is support for Islamic extremism here, a survey released on Tuesday found.

With the 10th anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks on New York and the Pentagon approaching, the Pew Research Center found that most Muslims felt ordinary Americans were friendly or neutral toward them.
In contrast to the majority of the general public dissatisfied with the nation’s direction, 56 percent of the estimated 2.75 million American Muslims said they are satisfied, the survey showed. Seven out of 10 view President Barack Obama’s tenure favorably.

“On a variety of measures, Muslims in America are very content with their own lives and with the communities where they live,” Pew researcher Greg Smith said in an interview.

There are an estimated 1.8 million Muslim adults in the United States, including U.S.-born converts, a 300,000 increase since 2007. Two-thirds were born in other countries.

The survey had an error margin of 5 percentage points.

People in US, Europe have slightly better views of Muslims, but negative perceptions persist

WASHINGTON — Attitudes about Muslim-Western relations have become slightly more positive in the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and Russia compared with five years ago, though negative views between Muslim countries and the West persist on both sides, a Pew Research Center survey found.

The survey, by Pew’s Global Attitudes Project, found majorities of Muslims surveyed in five of six Muslim-dominant countries and the Palestinian territories described non-Muslim Westerners as selfish and greedy. In all of the six Western countries surveyed, fewer than 30 percent of non-Muslims said they consider Muslims respectful of women.

Majorities of Muslims interviewed in most of the predominantly Muslim nations surveyed were inclined to say relations with people in Western countries are bad. There has been no overall improvement in those views in the predominantly Muslim nations in the last five years.

Westerners are less likely to believe relations are poor today than they were five years ago.

Pew surveys: Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda had been losing support in Muslim world

In the months leading up to Osama bin Laden’s death, a survey of Muslim publics around the world found little support for the al Qaeda leader. Among the six predominantly Muslim nations recently surveyed by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, bin Laden received his highest level of support among Muslims in the Palestinian territories – although even there only 34% said they had confidence in the terrorist leader to do the right thing in world affairs. Minorities of Muslims in Indonesia (26%), Egypt (22%) and Jordan (13%) expressed confidence in bin Laden, while he has almost no support among Turkish (3%) or Lebanese Muslims (1%).

Over time, support for bin Laden has dropped sharply among Muslim publics. Since 2003, the percentage of Muslims voicing confidence in him has declined by 38 points in the Palestinian territories and 33 points in Indonesia. The greatest decline has occurred in Jordan, where 56% of Muslims had confidence in bin Laden in 2003, compared with just 13% in the current poll. Jordanian support for bin Laden fell dramatically (to 24% from 61% the year before) in 2006, following suicide attacks in Amman by al Qaeda. In Pakistan, where 2011 data is still not available, confidence in bin Laden fell from 52% in 2005 to just 18% in last year’s survey.

Al Qaeda also received largely negative ratings among Muslim publics in the 2011 survey. Only 2% of Muslims in Lebanon and 5% in Turkey expressed favorable views of al Qaeda. In Jordan, 15% had a positive opinion of al Qaeda, while about one-in-five in Indonesia (22%) and Egypt (21%) shared this view. Palestinian Muslims offered somewhat more positive opinions (28% favorable), but about two-thirds (68%) viewed bin Laden’s organization unfavorably.

Ratings of al Qaeda are, for the most part, unchanged, except in Jordan, where al Qaeda’s favorable rating fell from 34% in 2010 to 15% currently.

As was the case with views of bin Laden, Nigerian Muslims typically offer more positive views of al Qaeda than any other Muslim public surveyed.

PEW: Religion in the News 2010

Islam the No. 1 Media Topic

Events and controversies related to Islam dominated U.S. press coverage of religion in 2010, bumping the Catholic Church from the top spot, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Much of the coverage focused on the plan to build a mosque and Islamic center near ground zero in New York City, a Florida pastor’s threat to organize a public burning of the Koran and commemorations of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Stories related to these three events collectively accounted for more than 40% of all religion-related coverage studied in mainstream U.S. media (broadcast and cable television, newspapers, radio and major news websites).

Mainstream media devoted more attention to religion in 2010 than in any year since the Pew Research Center began measuring coverage of religion and other subjects in 2007. The amount of space or time media devoted to religion doubled between 2009 and 2010, going from about 1% of total coverage to 2%. And for the first time since tracking began in 2007, neither the Catholic Church nor religion’s role in American politics were the No. 1 topic of religion coverage in major news outlets.

A Question of Appearances: Obama Will Bypass Sikh Temple on Visit to India Question of Appearances: Obama Will Bypass Sikh Temple on Visit to India

Mr. Obama was expected to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, next month, but there were questions about how he would cover his head. Sikh tradition requires that men tie a piece of cloth on their heads before entering the spiritual center. The president, who is Christian, has fought the perception that he is Muslim. Sikhs are regularly mistaken for Muslims. A Pew Research center survey in August found that nearly one in five Americans say Mr. Obama is a Muslim.

“We have worked so hard to establish in America that Sikhs have a very different identity than Muslims,” said H. S. Phoolka, a prominent Sikh lawyer in New Delhi. “It is very unfortunate that even the White House is conveying the message that there is no difference between Muslims and Sikhs.”

U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey

Executive Summary

Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.

On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers. Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively. Protestants as a whole average 16 correct answers; Catholics as a whole, 14.7. Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons perform better than other groups on the survey even after controlling for differing levels of education.

Muslims take to Minn. State Fair to repair image

Volunteers from the Minnesota chapter of Islamic Circle of North America took to the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” to repair the image of Muslims in America. A poll released last week showed many Americans have the same mixed feelings about the Muslim faith. The nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that most Americans doubt that Islam is likelier than other faiths to encourage violence and believe Muslims should have equal rights to build houses of worship. But more people have an unfavorable than favorable view of Islam by 38 to 30 percent – nearly a reversal of findings on the same poll question in 2005, when 41 percent had favorable views compared with 36 percent unfavorable.

Anti-Muslim Attitudes Rise in Europe

Winter 2008

Prejudice against Jews and Muslims is increasing in Europe amid heightened worries about globalization and immigration, according to a new international poll. Nearly half of Spanish respondents reported unfavorable attitudes toward Jews, followed by 36% of Poles, 34% of Russians, 25% of Germans and 20% of French people interviewed, according to a spring 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. In all of those countries, the percentage of people with a poor opinion of Jews has risen since 2006. While much of the upswing in anti-Jewish sentiment has occurred in the past two years, the increase in anti-Muslim feeling has taken place over a longer period of time, according to the Pew report. In addition, anti-Muslim attitudes are far more pervasive than anti-Jewish attitudes in most of the countries surveyed. Fifty-two percent of Spanish people expressed a negative opinion of Muslims, a view shared by 50% of Germans, 46% of Poles, 38% of French people and 32% of Russians. “There may be some backlash toward minority groups going on in Europe as a consequence of the EU’s [European Union’s] expansion and globalization,” Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, told the International Herald Tribune. The attitudes reflected in the Pew survey have found expression in such events as an anti-Islam conference that took place Sept. 19-20 in Cologne, Germany’s fourth-largest city. But that gathering did not come off as its organizers had planned. Backers of Pro-Cologne, which had set up the “Anti-Islamization Congress,” found themselves massively outnumbered by roughly 40,000 protesters, some of whom obstructed train lines and roads into the city. Although the protests were mostly nonviolent, a small group of demonstrators smashed the windows of a riverboat where Pro-Cologne had scheduled a press conference. Because skirmishes continued between members of both sides, police shut down the event about 45 minutes into the Sept. 20 Pro-Cologne rally, according to Der Spiegel.

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