What Do America's Religious Groups Think of One Another?

Well we already've heard what America's religious groups think of President Obama. So what do they think of each other? If you're curious, Pew Research has the answer. Pew asked five of America's largest religious groups: Evangelicals, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and atheists. The religious groups they asked respondents about included all five as well as Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, and Muslims.

One result which stands out is how much everyone likes Jews. For a country that a century ago lynched Jews in much the same way as blacks (and for essentially the same reasons), we've certainly had a change of opinion. Jews like each other of course (American Jews gave themselves an 89% positive rating), but every other group polled also had significantly positive things to say about the religion. The second highest rating for Judaism came from White Evangelicals, who as an aggregate gave Jews a 69% positive score. This is particularly interesting considering that Jews don't really like Evangelicals very much (the group gets a 34% score).

Conversely, most people don't feel too fondly of Muslims or atheists. Jews and White Evangelicals stand together once again in their dislike of Islam, rating adherents of the religion 35% and 30% respectively. Both groups' views of Islam are probably influenced to some degree by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is drawn along ethnoreligious lines. Their views sharply diverge on atheists, however, who Jews rate positively at 55% but Evangelicals dislike sharply with a 25% score (indeed, Evangelicals like atheists even less than Muslims). Instead, Evangelicals are joined in their dislike of atheists by Black Protestants, who give atheists a 30% positive rating.

One last thing which struck me is how much Catholics and Evangelicals evidently like one another. Considering the historical tensions between Protestants and Catholics as well as the fact there was serious discussion as to whether or not President Kennedy was trustworthy because of his religious affiliation just fifty years ago, I'm surprised to see both groups give one another overwhelmingly positive ratings (Catholics rate Evangelicals 57% positive, Evangelicals rate Catholics 63%).

Again, as with Americans' view of Jews, this seems an indicator of how swiftly a culture's can change in just a couple of generations. You see some hints of this as well in people's opinions of Islam: Americans aged 18-29 are significantly more likely to give a positive response when asked about Muslims.