Americans view followers of different faiths more positively than evangelicals

Published 27 July 2019  |  
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Evangelicals may be influential in the US but that doesn't mean they are popular as new research by Pew Research has found that followers of other faiths are likely to be held in higher regard.

Specifically, the study found that Americans with a high level of religious knowledge tended to look more favourably upon Jews, Catholics, mainline Protestants and Buddhists.

Looking at the views of nearly 11,000 US adults, the study found that the more a person knew about a religion, the warmer their perception was of it.

The exception to that trend, however, was evangelicals.

(Photo: Pew Research Center)

"Moreover, higher scores on the overall (32-point) religious knowledge scale tend to be associated with warmer evaluations of most religious groups," Pew said.

"Jews, for instance, receive an average thermometer rating of 70 degrees from non-Jews who answer 25 or more religious knowledge questions correctly, compared with just 54 degrees from those who answer eight or fewer questions correctly.

"One exception to this pattern is evangelical Christians, who are rated most warmly by those at the low end of the religious knowledge scale."

There were other anomolies, too, though.

"The survey also shows little connection between overall levels of religious knowledge and views of Mormons and Catholics, once demographic factors are taken into account," the research group added.

Overall, Americans were found to be the most warm towards Jews. When asked to rate groups on a 'feeling thermometer' ranging from 0 for 'coldest and most negative' to 100 for 'warmest and most positive', Americans gave Jews an average rating of 63 degrees, and four in ten people rated Jews in the warmest portion of the scale (at 67 degrees or higher).

"In the US, no major religious group is viewed more warmly by the overall public than Jews," Pew said.

They were followed by Catholics and mainline Protestants, who came in joint second with an average rating of 60 degrees.

Buddhists scored 57 degrees, just one point above evangelical Christians (56 degrees), while the average rating for Hindus was 55 degrees and Mormons 51 degrees.

Muslims were the only faith group to score below 50, coming in at 49 degrees.

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