Views of Religious Similarities and Differences
Washington, D.C.—Eight years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Americans see Muslims as facing more discrimination inside the U.S. than other major religious groups. Nearly six-in-ten adults say that Muslims are subject to a lot of discrimination, far more than say the same about Jews, evangelical Christians, atheists or Mormons, according to a new report based on a recent national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. In fact, of all the groups asked about, only gays and lesbians are seen as facing more discrimination than Muslims.
Results from the national survey, conducted Aug. 11-17 among 2,010 adults, reveal that two-thirds of non-Muslims say that Islam and their own faith are either very different or somewhat different, while just 17% take the view that Islam and their own religion are somewhat or very similar. Majorities also see Mormonism, Buddhism and Hinduism as mostly different from their own beliefs.
Other findings include:
High levels of perceived similarity with religious groups are associated with more favorable views of those groups. Those who see their own faith as similar to Catholicism, Judaism, Mormonism and Islam are significantly more likely than others to have favorable views of members of these groups.
A plurality of the public (45%) says Islam is no more likely than other faiths to encourage violence among its believers, compared with 38% who say that Islam does encourage violence more than other religions.
Almost half of Americans (45%) say they personally know someone who is Muslim.
Slim majorities of the public are able to correctly identify Allah as the name Muslims use to refer to God (53%) and the Koran as the name of Islam’s sacred text (52%), with four-in-ten (41%) able to identify both Allah and the Koran.
Those people who are most familiar with Muslims and knowledgeable about Islam are least likely to see Islam as encouraging violence, most likely to express favorable views of Muslims and most inclined to see similarities between Islam and their own religion.
The report, including a detailed executive summary, methodology and topline questionnaire, is available online. Additional results from the survey will be released in subsequent reports.
This survey is a joint effort of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Both are projects of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.