Jul 22, 2016 10:00 am

Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world

Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and regional migration of Muslims, combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries. Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans – who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population – say they know little or nothing about Islam.

Here are answers to some key questions about Muslims, compiled from several Pew Research Center reports published in recent years:

How many Muslims are there? Where do they live?

There were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010 – roughly 23% of the global population – according to a Pew Research Center estimate. But while Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. Indeed, if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century.

Although many countries in the Middle East-North Africa region, where the religion originated in the seventh century, are heavily Muslim, the region is home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims. A majority of the Muslims globally (62%) live in the Asia-Pacific region, including large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey. Read More

Topics: Muslim Americans, Muslim-Western Relations, Muslims and Islam, Population Geography, Population Trends, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Jul 22, 2016 7:00 am

Few American women have broken the glass ceiling of diplomacy

Since the beginning of U.S. diplomatic relations with the rest of the world, American ambassadors have overwhelmingly been men, an imbalance that speaks to a persistent diversity challenge within the U.S. Foreign Service. The numbers make it clear. Over 4,600 U.S. ambassadors have served in foreign countries since the founding of the nation – and only 9% of them have been women.

A Pew Research Center analysis of data from the American Foreign Service Association of the 193 United Nations member states and Kosovo finds that in 27 of the 191 countries with which the U.S. has had diplomatic relations, a woman has never been appointed ambassador. These countries span every region and include Canada and Israel as well as the Muslim-majority nations of Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran and Saudi Arabia. For the two countries to which the largest number of ambassadors have been sent (74 each) — Spain and Russia — none has ever been a woman. South Sudan, the world’s newest country, is the only country in the world to which all U.S. ambassadors have been women (two to date). Read More

Topics: Federal Government, Foreign Affairs and Policy

Jul 21, 2016 12:55 pm

The growing Democratic domination of nation’s largest counties

Over the past few decades, Republicans and Democrats have become more and more sharply divided – not just ideologically, but also geographically. Democrats tend to do best in the nation’s urban areas, while Republicans find their strongest support in more rural areas. Now, a new Pew Research Center analysis of county-level presidential-voting data quantifies just how dominant Democrats are in big cities – and analysts say this dominance will present a tough challenge to Donald Trump this November.

In 2008 Barack Obama won 88 of the 100 most populous counties; in his re-election bid four years later he won 86. Given Obama’s popularity among racial and ethnic minorities and young adults – who tend to cluster in big cities – that’s not altogether surprising. But Democrats’ urban dominance precedes Obama: The last time a GOP presidential candidate won more than a third of the 100 largest counties was 1988, when George H.W. Bush took 57 of them.

The disparity also is reflected in the parties’ share of the big-county vote. As recently as 1988, they were essentially even: Bush took 49.7% of the total vote in the 100 largest counties, while Michael Dukakis took 49.2%. But the Republican vote share fell steeply in 1992 and never really recovered: Since then, George W. Bush was the only GOP presidential candidate to receive more than 40% of the vote in the 100 largest counties (in 2004). Meanwhile, Democrats’ vote share in those counties has grown steadily, exceeding 60% in Obama’s two races.

This wasn’t always the case. Up to the 1990s, in fact, urban America was competitive territory for both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates: Ronald Reagan carried solid majorities of the 100 largest counties in both 1980 and 1984. In 2012, by contrast, Mitt Romney won only four counties with populations greater than 1 million: Maricopa County, Arizona; Orange County, California; Tarrant County, Texas; and Salt Lake County, Utah. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Elections and Campaigns, Voter Demographics

Jul 21, 2016 11:30 am

Churchgoing Republicans, once skeptical of Trump, now support him

As Donald Trump accepts the GOP’s presidential nomination during a sometimes contentious convention, some have wondered whether he will be able to bridge the party’s primary divides by Election Day. But recent Pew Research Center studies find that while many GOP voters – especially regular churchgoers – were skeptical of Trump even as late as April 2016, well into primary season, most are now ready to support him in the general election.

An analysis of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters at three points over a roughly five month period shows that by April, Trump was the preferred nominee of just 34% of those who attend religious services weekly, including 15% who had been steady supporters (i.e., had consistently supported him across the three separate surveys in December 2015, March 2016 and April 2016). Two-thirds of regular churchgoing Republicans were not supporting Trump for the GOP nomination even in April. This includes 57% who were Trump “skeptics,” having not expressed support for Trump as the GOP nominee in any of the three surveys conducted mainly online among participants in the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel between December and April.

Trump received much more support during the GOP primaries from Republicans who do not attend religious services every week; half of this group was in Trump’s corner by April, including 28% who had steadily supported him throughout the primaries. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Religion and U.S. Politics, Voter Demographics

Jul 20, 2016 1:03 pm

In ‘political correctness’ debate, most Americans think too many people are easily offended

At a time when the appropriateness of language has become a political issue, most Americans (59%) say “too many people are easily offended these days over the language that others use.” Fewer (39%) think “people need to be more careful about the language they use to avoid offending people with different backgrounds.”

A new national survey by Pew Research Center finds substantial partisan, racial and gender differences on this question.

About eight-in-ten (78%) Republicans say too many people are easily offended, while just 21% say people should be more careful to avoid offending others. Among Democrats, 61% think people should be more careful not to offend others, compared with 37% who say people these days are too easily offended.

The partisan gap is reflected in starkly divergent views among Trump and Clinton supporters. By a ratio of about five-to-one (83% to 16%), more Trump supporters say too many people are easily offended. Among Clinton supporters, 59% think people need to exercise caution in speaking to avoid offending others, while 39% think too many are easily offended. Read More

Topics: Political Attitudes and Values

Jul 20, 2016 11:58 am

Candidates’ social media outpaces their websites and emails as an online campaign news source

In the digital news era, presidential candidates and their campaigns have a greater ability to serve as direct sources of news and information for the public. Pew Research Center has studied this evolution for the last five presidential cycles and finds that this year, the candidates’ social media posts outpace their websites and emails as sources of news.

Roughly a quarter of U.S. adults (24%) turn to social media posts from either the Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump campaigns as a way of keeping up with the election, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted June 7 to July 5, 2016. This exceeds the portions that rely on the candidates’ campaign websites (10%) or their emails (9%). Overall, three-in-ten Americans get election news from at least one of these three online sources for news about the election.

What’s more, most of those who rely on the candidates’ websites and emails for news also turn to candidates’ social media posts for information, whether on Twitter, Facebook or some other platform. About two-thirds of those who get news from either candidate’s website (63%) and about the same portion who turn to candidate emails (68%) also turn to a candidate’s social media posts. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Election News, U.S. Political Figures

Jul 19, 2016 3:24 pm

More minority federal judges have been appointed under Democratic than Republican presidents

The first black judge to have been appointed by the president to the federal bench was William Henry Hastie, whom Franklin Delano Roosevelt named as a district court judge for the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1937. Harry Truman subsequently nominated Hastie to the appeals court in 1949. Since then, the federal court system – which includes the district, appellate, international trade and Supreme courts – has become increasingly diverse, with more judges who are racial or ethnic minorities.

Seven-in-ten minority judges who have served on the federal bench were appointed in the last 25 years. In fact, the cumulative number of minorities to have ever served in the district and appellate courts has more than tripled since 1990, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Federal Judicial Center data for the U.S. and Puerto Rico. This growing diversity also is apparent at the federal court system’s highest level: the U.S. Supreme Court. While only three minority judges have ever served on the Supreme Court – including Thurgood Marshall (1967-1991), Clarence Thomas (1991-present), and Sonia Sotomayor (2009-present) ­– two of them are currently serving. Read More

Topics: Federal Government, Race and Ethnicity

Jul 19, 2016 2:00 pm

5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe

Recent killings in Paris as well as the arrival of hundreds of thousands of mostly Muslim refugees in Europe have drawn renewed attention to the continent’s Muslim population. In many European countries, including France, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, concerns about growing Muslim communities have led to calls for restrictions on immigration. But just how large is Europe’s Muslim population, and how fast is it growing?

Muslim population in EuropeUsing the Pew Research Center’s most recent population estimates, here are five facts about the size and makeup of the Muslim population in Europe:

1Germany and France have the largest Muslim populations among European Union member countries. As of 2010, there were 4.8 million Muslims in Germany (5.8% of the country’s population) and 4.7 million Muslims in France (7.5%). In Europe overall, however, Russia’s population of 14 million Muslims (10%) is the largest on the continent.

2The Muslim share of Europe’s total population has been increasing steadily. In recent decades, the Muslim share of the population throughout Europe grew about 1 percentage point a decade, from 4% in 1990 to 6% in 2010. This pattern is expected to continue through 2030, when Muslims are projected to make up 8% of Europe’s population.

3Muslims are younger than other Europeans. In 2010, the median age of Muslims throughout Europe was 32, eight years younger than the median for all Europeans (40). By contrast, the median age of religiously unaffiliated people in Europe, including atheists, agnostics and those with no religion in particular, was 37. The median age of European Christians was 42. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Europe, Muslims and Islam

Jul 18, 2016 12:09 pm

Sharp differences over who is hurt, helped by their race

Black and white Americans have profoundly different views on racial equality, and a new survey finds they also differ on the extent to which a person’s race can be a burden or a benefit. For blacks, the answer is clear: 65% say “it is a lot more difficult to be black in this country than it is to be white.” Fewer than half as many whites (27%) agree.

The racial gap in perceptions of white advantages is even starker: 62% of blacks say “white people benefit a great deal from advantages in society that black people do not have.” Just 13% of whites say whites have benefited a great deal from advantages that blacks lack.

The survey was conducted June 7-July 5 among 4,602 adults on Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel.

Among Hispanics, 37% say it is lot more difficult to be black than white, which is higher than the share of whites who say this but far lower than the number of blacks who do so. Most Hispanics say white people benefit from advantages in society that blacks do not have; 33% say whites benefit a great deal from these circumstances, compared with 62% of blacks and 13% of whites.

Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, African Americans, Race and Ethnicity, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties

Jul 18, 2016 7:00 am

Are churches key to solving social problems? Fewer Americans now think so

Religious leaders and institutions have taken part in efforts to address important social issues throughout American history, from slavery to civil rights to today’s advocacy in areas such as reducing poverty.

But Americans appear to be growing more skeptical of how much of a difference churches and other houses of worship make in tackling social concerns. A majority of U.S. adults still say religious institutions contribute either “a great deal” (19%) or “some” (38%) to solving important social problems. But the combined figure of 58% has fallen significantly in recent years, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. About four-in-ten Americans (39%) now say religious institutions make little to no contribution in this area.

When the same question was asked in July 2012, roughly two-thirds of respondents (65%) said churches and other houses of worship played at least some role in solving society’s dilemmas. Four years before that, in August 2008, fully three-quarters of Americans (75%) said religious institutions contributed “a great deal” or “some” in this way. Read More

Topics: Religion and Society, Social Values