In a poll taken prior to the recent outbreak of anti-U.S. violence in Afghanistan over a U.S. pastor’s burning of a Koran, the public remained divided over whether Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers, with 40% saying the Islamic religion is more likely than others to encourage violence while 42% said it is not. The national Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 22-March 1 found that most young people (58%) rejected the idea that Islam is more likely than other religions to promote violence while a 45%-plurality of those ages 50 and older (45%) said Islam is more likely. Political and ideological divisions were even wider: By roughly three-to-one (66% to 21%), conservative Republicans said Islam encourages violence more than other religions. Moderate and liberal Republicans were divided — 46% said Islam is more likely to encourage violence, 47% said it is not. By more than two-to-one (61% to 29%), liberal Democrats felt that Islam is not more likely than other religions to promote violence. Conservative and moderate Democrats, by a smaller margin (48% to 31%), agreed. Fully 67% of those who agree with the Tea Party movement said Islam is more associated with violence than other religions. Among those who disagree with the Tea Party, the balance of opinion was nearly reversed — 62% said Islam is no more likely than other religions to promote violence while 24% said it is. Among the large share of the public that offers no opinion of the Tea Party, 38% said Islam is more likely to promote violence while about the same number (41%) disagreed. Read More

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