Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Pew Poll Finds Fewer Americans Link Islam to Violence in 2005 Than 2003; Majority Ignorant About Islam

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life recently conducted a scientific poll of 2,000 American adults about their views of religion and conflict, and particularly their views and knowledge of Islam. The poll was conducted between July 7 (the date of the first terrorist attacks in London) and July 17, 2005. Pew's research seems to show a glimmer of hope, as more Americans separate the terrorist attacks carried out by Muslim radicals and Islam the world religion.

The Pew survey finds that 55% of Americans have a favorable opinion of American Muslims; an increase from March 2001, when 45% of Americans said that they viewed American Muslims favorably. The most recent number is roughly equivalent to the percentage of people who answered favorably in similar polls conducted during March 2002 and July 2003.

In the most recent poll, 36% of Americans believe Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence; this is a significant decrease from 44% in the July 2003 poll. More Evangelical Christians (49%), White Catholics (42%), and Republicans (45-49%) are likely to view Islam as more likely to encourage violence than Democracts (25-34%), political Independents (33%), and secularists (26%.)

The most recent poll shows that 39% of Americans view Islam favorably and 25% have no opinion, while 36% view Islam unfavorably. By far, a plurality of Evangelical Protestants (47%) view Islam unfavorably. Most Republicans (46%), in general, view Islam unfavorably, while 47% of Democrats and 42% of political independents view Islam favorably.

Below are some more findings of the July 2005 Pew survey:

*59% believe that Islam is very different from their own faiths.

*75% believe that religion in general contributes either "a great deal" or "a fair amount" in causing conflict and war around the world.

*65% believe that religion plays a role in causing political conflict within the United States.

*29% believe that terrorist attacks represent a "major conflict" between Islam and the West, while the vast majority (60%) believe that they represent "conflict with a small radical group."

*A slim majority (51%) of Americans could correctly identify what the Qur'an (Koran) is and 48% were able to correctly identify the Islamic notion of Allah (the God, or al-Ilah.)

*Only 5% feel that they know "a great deal" about Islam; 28% feel they know "some" things about Islam; while the majority (66%) know "not very much" or "nothing at all" about Islam.

*An overwhelming majority of Americans view Jews (77%) and Catholics (73%) favorably. A slim majority of Americans view Evangelical Protestants (57%) favorably.

To read the Pew Forum's overview report on their July 2005 survey, see:

To download the full report as a PDF, see:

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