By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
New data from polling firm Gallup shows that out of all the religious groups in the U.S., Muslims are most likely to reject violence, followed by the non-religious atheists and agnostics.
Through interviews with 2,482 Americans, Gallup found that 78 percent of Muslims believe violence which kills civilians is never justified, whereas just 38 percent of Protestant Christians and 39 percent of Catholics agreed with that sentiment. Fifty-six percent of atheists answered similarly.
When Gallup put the question a bit more pointedly, asking if it would be justified for “an individual person or a small group of persons to target and kill civilians,” the responses were a bit more uniform. Respondents from nearly all groups were widely opposed to such tactics, with Protestants and Catholics at 71 percent against. Muslims still had the highest number opposed, at 89 percent. Seventy-six percent of atheists were also opposed.
The Gallup survey, conducted over the course of a year, was designed to measure religious and non-religious attitudes toward violence 10 years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Perhaps most tellingly, 92 percent of Muslims surveyed said they did not believe any Muslim in their community had sympathy toward al Qaeda terrorists, but just 56 percent of Protestants and 63 percent of Catholics said the same.
The survey also found that President Barack Obama enjoys an 80 percent approval rating among Muslim Americans, according to an attached report, “Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, and the Future” (PDF).
American sentiment toward Muslims at large has only sank in recent years. A Pew poll found in August of 2010 that just 30 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Muslims. Republicans lead the divide, at 54 percent who hold unfavorable views, compared to 27 percent of Democrats.