PRRI: Americans Nearly Evenly Divided on Whether Islam at Odds with American Values

[ 0 ] March 25, 2013

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on MARCH 24, 2013: 

Last week the results of a major new survey on immigration issues, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with The Brookings Institution, were released.

And while the big headline to come out of the Citizenship, Values, and Cultural Concerns: What Americans Want from Immigration Reform survey was that most Americans favor giving illegal immigrants an opportunity for legal status with a path to citizenship (nearly 2/3) — including most Democrats (71%) and most Republicans (53%) — this expansive survey also measured attitudes toward same-sex marriage, abortion, environmental regulations, taxes, and Islam.

The key finding on American attitudes toward Islam — “Americans are nearly evenly divided on whether the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life (47% agree, 44% disagree).”  Perhaps not surprisingly a majority of Tea Party members (69%), white evangelical Protestants (67%), Republicans (63%), and seniors (57%) agree that Islam is at odds with American values and way of life.

Meanwhile only a little more than one-third of Millenials (36%) and Democrats (36%) agree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life.

Here’s a summary breakdown: 

  • More than 6-in-10 (63%) Republicans and nearly 7-in-10 (69%) members of the Tea Party agree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life, compared to roughly one-third (36%) of Democrats. A majority (54%) of Democrats disagree, saying that the values of Islam are not at odds with American values and way of life. Independents are nearly evenly divided (46% agree, 45% disagree).
  • Two-thirds (67%) of white evangelical Protestants and half (50%) of white mainline Protestants agree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life. Black Protestants, white Catholics, and Hispanic Catholics are divided, while a majority (57%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans disagree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life. [1] Because the question was asked of half the sample, we could not analyze Mormons, Jewish Americans, or Hispanic Protestants for this question.
  • Nearly 6-in-10 (57%) seniors agree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life, compared to roughly one-third (36%) of Millennials. A majority (54%) of Millennials disagree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life.

PRRI and other pollsters have picked up on these variations on attitudes toward Islam  — based on which religion one professes, how old one is, and what political affiliation one aligns with before.

Public Religion Research Institute CEO Robbie Jones spoke at Duke University earlier this year and addressed current attitudes towards American Muslims, including potential stress points like public expressions of Islam, religious liberty, and concerns about Islam and violence.

WATCH THE LECTURE (TOP), IN WHICH DR. JONES PRESENTS AN OVERVIEW OF PREVIOUS PRRI SURVEY WORK ON AMERICAN ATTITUDES TOWARD AMERICAN MUSLIMS:

WATCH THE Q&A BELOW WHERE ROBBIE JONES ENGAGED IN LIVELY DISCUSSION OF THESE ISSUES WITH DUKE SCHOLARS, STUDENTS, STAFF AND THE PUBLIC:

Dr. Jones’ visit to Duke was made possible by the Transcultural Islam Project, a an initiative launched last year by the Duke Islamic Studies Center —in partnership with the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies— aimed at deepening understanding of Islam and the Muslim world. See www.islamicommentary.org/about and www.tirnscholars.org/about for more information. The Transcultural Islam Project is funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. 
frontpage photo: screenshot of PRRI CEO Robbie Jones presentation at Duke on “Religious Minorities in America: Islam in Context.”

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