How Americans Feel About Religious Groups [PDF download]

July 16, 2014

Jews, Catholics & Evangelicals Rated Warmly, Atheists and Muslims More Coldly

PDF DOWNLOAD OF REPORT: “How Americans Feel About Religious Groups”

Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians are viewed warmly by the American public. When asked to rate each group on a “feeling thermometer” ranging from 0 to 100 – where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative possible rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating – all three groups receive an average rating of 60 or higher (63 for Jews, 62 for Catholics and 61 for evangelical Christians). And 44% of the public rates all three groups in the warmest part of the scale (67 or higher).

Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons receive neutral ratings on average, ranging from 48 for Mormons to 53 for Buddhists. The public views atheists and Muslims more coldly; atheists receive an average rating of 41, and Muslims an average rating of 40. Fully 41% of the public rates Muslims in the coldest part of the thermometer (33 or below), and 40% rate atheists in the coldest part.

These are some of the key findings from a Pew Research Center survey conducted May 30-June 30, 2014, among 3,217 adults who are part of Pew Research’s new American Trends Panel, a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults.

Jews Rated Most Positively by Whites; Evangelicals and Muslims Viewed More Favorably by Blacks than Whites

Jews receive their most positive ratings from whites, who give them an average rating of 66. Jews also are rated favorably by blacks and Hispanics (with each group giving Jews an average rating of 58). Evangelicals also are rated positively by all three groups, with their highest average rating coming from blacks (68). Muslims receive a neutral rating from blacks (49 on average), but they are rated more negatively by whites (38). Hispanics’ ratings of Muslims fall in between (43).

Politics and Religion: Partisans’ Views of Religious Groups

Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party tend to rate evangelicals very positively (71 on average). They also express warm feelings toward Jews (67 on average) and Catholics (66). The warmth Republicans feel for evangelicals may reflect the fact that many Republicans and Republican leaners are themselves evangelicals. Among those who are not evangelical Christians, evangelicals receive an average rating of 62. Mormons receive a neutral rating from Republicans and Republican leaners (52 on average), while Buddhists receive a rating of 49 and Hindus a rating of 47. Republicans and Republican leaners view atheists and Muslims much more negatively than they view other religious groups.

Democrats and Democratic leaners express warm feelings toward Jews (average rating of 62) and Catholics (61). Buddhists also are rated favorably (57 on average) by Democrats. Evangelicals receive an average rating of 53 from all Democrats and Democratic leaners, but this drops to 45 among those who are not evangelicals themselves. With the exception of Jews, all of the non-Christian groups asked about receive warmer ratings from Democrats and Democratic leaners than they do from Republicans.

U.S. Muslims Most Approving of Obama, Mormons Least

Relative rank order of religious groups stable throughout his presidency

July 11, 2014
by Jeffrey M. Jones

PRINCETON, NJ — Seventy-two percent of U.S. Muslims approved of the job President Barack Obama was doing as president during the first six months of 2014, higher than any other U.S. religious group Gallup tracks. Mormons were least approving, at 18%. In general, majorities of those in non-Christian religions — including those who do not affiliate with any religion — approved of Obama, while less than a majority of those in the three major Christian religious groups did.

Obama Job Approval, by Religion, January-June 2014

The results are based on aggregated data from more than 88,000 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted in the first six months of 2014 — a time when the president averaged 43% job approval among all Americans. Gallup interviewed 552 Muslims and at least 1,700 respondents in every other religious group during this time.

The relative rank order of the religious groups on job approval has been consistent throughout Obama’s presidency. In fact, the current rank order, with Muslims most approving and Mormons least, exactly matches the order seen over the more than five years he has been in office since January 2009.

Moreover, current job approval among each religious subgroup is between five and seven percentage points lower than the full 2009-2014 average for each. Obama’s current 43% overall job approval average is five points lower than his 48% average so far in his presidency.

Comparison of President Obama's January-June 2014 Job Approval to His Presidency's Average, by Religion

In general, when Obama’s approval rating has dropped among all Americans, his approval rating in each religious subgroup has dropped by a similar amount. The accompanying graph shows how Obama’s average approval rating among Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons has compared with the average among all Americans over time. Because the movement in each religious group has shadowed the national movement, Mormons have been least approving of Obama in each time period. Protestants have been consistently below the national average, and Catholics slightly above it.

Trend in President Obama Approval Among Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons

Similarly, Muslims have been the most approving among the religious groups in each time period. Jewish Americans and Americans with no religious preference have also exceeded the national average job approval in each time period, tracking each other closely.

Trend in President Obama Approval Among Muslims, Jews, and Those With No Religious Affiliation

Implications

The patterns in Obama’s job approval by religion have prevailed throughout his presidency, with Muslim, Jewish, and nonreligious Americans giving him higher ratings, and Mormons and Protestants giving him the lowest ratings. Catholics have typically been closest to the national average, but slightly above it.

As Obama’s overall job approval rating has had its ups and downs over the five-plus years he has been president, his ratings among religious groups have moved in tandem. That is, Americans of various faiths seem to react similarly to the factors that cause the president’s popularity to wax and wane, rather than reacting in idiosyncratic ways tied to their religious beliefs.

Clearly, members of various religions view the president quite differently, but this may be attributable more to whether Obama’s Democratic affiliation matches the political leanings of each religious group, and less to the specific policies and actions he has taken throughout his presidency.

Explore President Obama’s approval ratings in depth and compare them with those of past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.


 

Survey MethodsResults for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted January-June, 2014, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 88,801 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.

Results for religious subgroups are based on the following sample sizes and margins of error:

Sample Sizes and Margins of Error for Religious Groups

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup’s polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

Poll: 25 Percent of Muslim Voters Undecided in Presidential Election

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today released the results of a survey indicating that 25 percent of American Muslim registered voters are still undecided about who to vote for in this November’s presidential election.

The new poll, conducted by an independent research firm on behalf of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), also indicates that 91 percent of registered Muslim voters will go to the polls on November 6. [NOTE: The random survey of 500 registered Muslim voters, conducted in the first two weeks of October, has a margin of error of five percent.]

Sixty-eight percent of the survey respondents said they will vote to re-elect President Obama. Seven percent said they will vote for Mitt Romney.

Sixty-eight percent of the survey respondents said they will vote to re-elect President Obama. Seven percent said they will vote for Mitt Romney.

“These results indicate that a large percentage of American Muslim voters are still open to appeals from presidential candidates and that American Muslims are potentially in a position to decide this year’s election,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Other findings released at CAIR’s joint news conference today with the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT*) include:

CAIR to Release Poll of Muslim Voters on Presidential Pick

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2012 — Results show Muslims may be key voting bloc in swing states nationwide.

 

On Wednesday, October 24, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), along with the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT*), will hold a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to announce the results of a poll of American Muslim registered voters.

“The results of our survey show that, because of the razor-thin margins in several swing states, American Muslim voters could be a key voting bloc,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

 

CAIR’s survey, conducted by an independent research firm in the first two weeks of October, indicates how many American Muslim registered voters are still undecided about who to vote for in the November presidential election and how many will turn out at the polls.

 

The survey also outlines which issues are important to Muslim voters, which political party Muslims favor, how many Muslim voters have experienced discrimination or kindness post-9/11, and what Muslims think of major foreign policy issues.

 

The Washington-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization has taken similar polls in past election cycles.

Poll: Most Americans do not identify Obama as Christian

Republicans from time to time have accused President Obama of playing identity politics. Here’s the problem: The electorate remains confused about his identity.

The problem is most famously manifested in persistent conspiracy theories, driven by conspiracy-loving “birthers,” about Obama’s birthplace and citizenship. But voters remain muddled about his religion as well, as a new Gallup poll confirms.

The poll released Friday shows that just 34% of Americans can identify Obama as a Christian or, more specifically, as a Protestant. Eleven percent remain convinced that he is Muslim, and 44% say they don’t know.

That is striking, because few presidents have spoken and written as much about their faith as Obama. His Christianity, in fact, ignited the biggest controversy of his 2008 campaign when incendiary videos of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s longtime pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, went viral on the internet. Obama eventually severed ties with Wright, and since then has attended a variety of Christian churches. He uses Christian language and imagery often in speeches

The Gallup findings were remarkably consistent with those of a Pew Research Center poll in August 2010, in which 34% of those surveyed said Obama was Christian, 18% said Muslim and 43% said they didn’t know.

It is also notable that the matter is even an issue. Randall Balmer, a professor of American religious history at Columbia University and the author of “God in the White House: How Faith Shapes the Presidency — from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush,” has noted that there was a time in American politics when the electorate didn’t pay any attention to the president’s religion and didn’t particularly care.

How many Americans, he has asked, knew the religious denomination of Lyndon Johnson? (He was a member of the Disciples of Christ.)

The Gallup poll was based on telephone interviews conducted June 7-10 with a random sample of 1,004 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Poll: Obama’s a Muslim to many GOP voters in Alabama, Mississippi

After years of battling false claims and viral emails alleging that he is a Muslim, President Obama hasn’t gotten far among Republican voters in Alabama and Mississippi – about half still believe he is Muslim and about 1 in 4 believes his parents’ interracial marriage should have been illegal, a new poll shows. Of the republicans surveyed only 14 percent know that he’s actually a Christian. In Mississippi, the same poll showed that a majority of Republicans, 52 percent, believe the Muslim lie.

While there’s no question that far too many people buy into this propaganda, I’m not ready to condemn a majority of Mississippians based on this survey. PPP is a partisan organization that conducts automated surveys. That means it’s not clear who answered the questions and whether the sample is statistically representative.

The automated survey by Public Policy Polling, conducted over the weekend in advance of Tuesday’s GOP primaries in both states, showed Republicans Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich locked in a three-way battle for votes.

But in an indication of where the two states fall on the political spectrum, the polls also found continued skepticism among Republicans about Obama’s religion and that a substantial number of GOP voters continue to believe interracial marriage should be illegal.

The poll of Mississippi Republicans found that 52% said they believed Obama is a Muslim, 36% weren’t sure and only 12% said they believed he is a Christian. He fared slightly better in Alabama, where 45% said he is a Muslim, 41% weren’t sure, and 14% said he is a Christian.

Poll Suggests Canadians Less Tolerant after 9/11

Montreal Gazette – September 8, 2011

 

A majority of Canadians say society has become less tolerant of various ethnicities and faiths since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a new study shows. Over half of Canadians surveyed in an Ipsos Reid poll for Postmedia News and Global TV said that Muslims are discriminated against more now than they were 10 years ago. However, Canadian Muslim groups say the impact of 9/11 was good and bad on the Muslim community.

“On the good side, there has been the ability for Canadians to access their fellow citizens with Muslim backgrounds, to get to know them more, and essentially have the ability to get accurate information about Islam in the Muslim community which has been a great thing for those who want to have that information,” said Kashif Ahmed, a national board member with the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Other findings include: 74% of Canadians agree that “our society has become less tolerant of others since the 9/11 terrorist attacks”; 60% think that Muslims in Canada are discriminated against more than before the attacks; and 59% say the 9/11 attacks have given them a negative impression of certain ethnicities and religious faiths.

Poll suggests that Muslims in France are increasingly devout

News Agencies – August 1, 2011

 

French newspaper La Croix has released survey data that suggests that there are more practicing Muslims in France than 20 years ago. An IFOP poll shows that 71% France’s Muslims intend to fast for the entire month of Ramadan. The survey suggests that the intention to participate in Ramadan has increased strongly, rising by 10 points since 1989, the date of the first French survey. Fasting is especially prevalent among the 18-24 age group, which also scores highly for visits to places of worship. The picture of the French Muslim population that emerges from the survey is of a “young” (62% are aged under 35) and traditionally left-leaning community. According to the deputy director of the polling agency Ifop, this political bias has been boosted by the recent government sponsored debate on French identity, which alienated many Muslims.

Harris Poll Suggests French Blame Immigrants for Integration Failure

April 20, 2011

Two-thirds of French people see the integration of immigrants into France as a failure and most believe the fault lies with the immigrants, an opinion poll showed on Wednesday. In the poll by Harris Interactive, published in the daily Le Parisien, 66% of respondents said immigrants had adapted badly to life in France and just over half felt the situation had worsened in the past ten years.
More than three quarters of the sample group said immigrants had not made enough of an effort to adapt to French society, according to the poll, carried out between April 8-10 among 1,631 people from all political backgrounds. Anxiety about immigrants in general and Muslims in particular has featured prominently in early campaigning for the 2012 presidential election in France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at five to six million according to the Interior Ministry.

Poll: Majority Say Congressional Hearings on Alleged Extremism in American Muslim Community ‘Good Idea’

But 7-IN-10 Say Congress Should Not Single Out American Muslim Community

VIEWS ON CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS INVESTIGATING ALLEGED EXTREMISM IN AMERICAN MUSLIM COMMUNITY

A majority (56%) of Americans say that the upcoming Congressional hearings to investigate alleged extremism in the American Muslim community are a good idea, compared with 29% who say they are a bad idea. Approval of the hearings varies considerably by political and religious affiliation.