Sunday, August 10, 2014

US Muslims and Atheists together again in a recent Pew poll

by Salman Hameed

A few months ago I had pointed out that Muslims and atheists in the US may have a lot more in common than they think. For example, according to a Gallup poll, Americans are least likely to vote a Muslim or an atheist for President (well, except for the secret Muslim and the secret atheist President Obama). Then a Pew survey found that most Christians in the US will be unhappy if a family member married an atheist. They ask about Muslims, but I'm sure the unhappiness would be at a similar level.

Now a new Pew poll uses a thermometer scale (really!?) to gauge how people of different faiths in the US feel about each other. The scale is from 0 to 100, with zero the coldest and 100 the warmest. Well, it seems that on average Americans are the coolest towards atheists and Muslims at 41 and 40, respectively, and warmest towards Catholics, Evangelicals and Jews:

But this includes people's feelings about their own religious group as well. And surprise, surprise. People feel warmly about their own kind. So here is how the various religious groups rate each other:

Geez - White Evangelical Christians have to lighten up a bit about Muslims and atheists! Too bad, it doesn't include Muslims in the sample, but there is some reciprocity from atheists on their dislike of Evangelicals. This is the same dynamic that was apparent in an earlier Pew poll as well. But there is some hope as well. Younger Americans are warmer towards atheists and Muslims and that may be a result of growing diversity in the US:

The outlook is different when we look at this through political affiliations. Republicans are much cooler towards both atheists and Muslims, but Democrats are the coldest towards Mormons (and then atheists and Muslims). I think the scale is going to get even more extreme if it is for the viewers of Fox News versus the viewers of MSNBC. Nevertheless, here is the 'feeling' scale divided but the two political parties:
You can read the full report here (pdf). 


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