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Public Expresses Mixed Views of Islam, Mormonism

 
 
Reply Sat 29 Sep, 2007 09:17 am
Public Expresses Mixed Views of Islam, Mormonism
Benedict XVI Viewed Favorably But Faulted on Religious Outreach
September 25, 2007

The Muslim and Mormon religions have gained increasing national visibility in recent years. Yet most Americans say they know little or nothing about either religion's practices, and large majorities say that their own religion is very different from Islam and the Mormon religion.


A new national survey reveals some notable similarities, as well as major differences, in the ways that Americans view these faiths and their followers. Public impressions of both religions are hazy - 58% say they know little or nothing about Islam's practices, while 51% have little or no awareness of the precepts and practices of Mormonism. The number of people who say they know little or nothing about Islam has changed very little since 2001.

Most Americans believe that their own religion has little in common with either Islam or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Fully 70% say that their religion is very different from Islam, while 62% say this about the Mormon religion. The proportion who say that Islam has little or nothing in common with their own religion has increased substantially since 2005 (from 59% to 70%).

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted Aug. 1-18 among 3,002 adults, finds that overall evaluations of Mormons and Muslim Americans are on balance positive: 53% say they have a favorable opinion of Mormons, while an identical percentage views Muslim Americans favorably. As in past surveys, more people have a positive impression of "Muslim Americans" (53%) than of "Muslims" (43%).

Despite these similarities, there also are clear differences in public attitudes about Islam and Mormonism. These are reflected in the single-word descriptions people use in summarizing their impressions of each religion. Twice as many people use negative words as positive words to describe their impressions of the Muslim religion (30% vs. 15%). The most frequently used negative word to describe Islam is "fanatic," with "radical" and "terror" often mentioned as well. Among the positive terms, "devout" or some variant is the most frequently cited.


The words that people use to describe the Mormon religion are, on balance, more positive. Nearly a quarter (23%) gives a positive word to describe their impression of the Mormon religion while 27% use a negative term. Although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints banned polygamy almost a century ago, many Americans still associate the church with this practice. The most commonly used negative words to describe Mormonism are "polygamy," "bigamy" or some other reference to plural marriage. Among positive words used to describe the Mormon religion, "family" - or some variant of the term - is the most frequent response.

Public views of other religious groups have changed little over the past few years. About three-quarters of those polled have a favorable opinion of Jews and Catholics (76% each), while substantially fewer are favorable toward evangelical Christians (60%). Atheists are viewed far more negatively, with just 35% holding a positive view and 53% saying they have an unfavorable opinion.


The survey also finds that, two years after Pope Benedict XVI was installed as spiritual leader of the world's Catholics, the pontiff is viewed favorably by nearly three-quarters (73%) of those familiar enough to offer an opinion. However, significantly fewer people say they have a favorable opinion of the pontiff than expressed positive opinions of Pope Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, during his more than two decades as pope (86% in 1996).

Moreover, nearly half (46%) of those who have heard at least a little about Pope Benedict XVI say he is doing only a fair or poor job at promoting good relations with other major religions; just 38% say the pope is doing an excellent or good job in this regard. Catholics themselves are divided ideologically over the pope's performance in fostering ties with other religions: 63% of self-identified conservative Catholics say the pope has done well in promoting good interfaith relations, but just 50% of moderate Catholics and 45% of liberal Catholics agree.

People who have heard at least a little about Pope Benedict are in general agreement about the pope's own ideological leanings: 56% say he is either very conservative (20%) or conservative (36%); 17% say the pope is a moderate, while just 5% view him as a liberal. And among Catholics, fully 68% say Pope Benedict is a conservative.

Read the full report at people-press.org

Graphs:
http://pewresearch.org/pubs/602/public-expresses-mixed-views-of-islam-mormonism
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mrcolj
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Oct, 2007 09:18 am
I would love to see the opposite question asked: What percentage of Muslims think their religion is similar to most Americans'; and what percentage of Mormons think their religion is similar to most Americans'. I think that may be a better indicator of how distinct these religions are or are not. I say that because I think Mormonism is pretty normal when you take away all the exagerations and slander they face at the hands of some over-zealous and capitalistic christian sects. My money would say 80% of Muslims would say their religion is "somewhat similar" to the American zeitgeist and 90% of Mormons would say "very similar."
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neologist
 
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Reply Wed 24 Oct, 2007 10:17 am
I have yet to hear of any Mormon Suicide Bombers. Don't expect I ever will.

As for the Pope becoming a force for world peace. . . . More about that at another time.
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tinygiraffe
 
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Reply Wed 24 Oct, 2007 11:56 am
again, neo and i agree on something for different reasons. "pax romana" is hardly the kind of peace this world needs.

mormonism is exactly the kind of religion most (?!) american christians seem to want- a throwback to the 1950s, moderate racism, sexism as if it's normal, men in short hair, women in long hair, no earrings on anyone but women, no tattoos, dress shirts and ties, family gatherings, and bowing to the leader of the state on any matter that isn't spiritual- that area is reserved for the church. no masturbation, no sex before marriage, no gays, boy scouts, (no gays again!) standing before the flag, not watching too much television, reading the bible...

and the only problem is that god is an alien from another planet and you can't drink coffee, beer, or smoke cigarettes. plus the book of mormon (yeah, right!)

that's kind of where mormonism falls just short of pure americana. but then the southern baptists might not care, i'm pretty sure they're from another planet also.
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real life
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Oct, 2007 08:03 am
The current media obsession with Mormonism is a pre-emptive strike to try to derail the political momentum of Mitt Romney.

Liberals are scared to death of a Republican who governed a 'blue' state.

Throwing Mormonism and Islam together in the same article is an attempt to try to capitalize on fear of terrorism, and suggest that Mormons might be the Christian counterpart to the Wahabi.

What I'd like to see is how many Muslims would vote for a Democratic president instead of a Republican one.

Given Osama's failed attempt to sway the last Presidential election with his October surprise video, it would be very interesting to see the results.
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tinygiraffe
 
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Reply Thu 25 Oct, 2007 11:35 pm
first of all, the more i think about mormons having political power, the more it scares me.

second, some of the most frightening figures we've had in office in the past few terms have been mormon.

third, islam and mormonism are mostly unknowns to the average person, and perhaps that fear is easy to cash in on. in this case, i hope so. i don't have a lot of misconceptions about mormons as a religion or a culture, and what i do know is not the sort of thing that would make a good leader in mitt romney. anyone that can derail his campaign by honest means is doing 300 million people a favor, not counting the rest of the world (as usual.)

what about his campaign, however? well, i don't like it. i'm tired of people like him with campaigns like his raping the constitution. romney is not going to fix it. he's got nothing going for him, unless your values are very different than mine, and you intend to force them on everyone regardless of how unconstitutional they are. i would hope that the consitution itself would prevent the past 8 years, or any more like them, but it only works when you don't ignore it.

i'm confident he will. that should be reason enough to argue against his election, regardless of your party.

but whether it derails him or helps him, people should learn more about mormons. it doesn't pay to have an entire state in the grips of a religion that no one knows anything about.
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Builder
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Oct, 2007 12:03 am
Noni Darwish
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tinygiraffe
 
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Reply Fri 26 Oct, 2007 12:18 am
i would like to see the muslims/ex muslims against islamic fascism working together with the jews that are against the israeli occupation.

surely these are two groups that can agree on something. i think they're the only two that can give us any hope.
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Builder
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Oct, 2007 12:36 am
I think we need to draw a line between calling people Jews, and Israelis.

There are pockets of Jewish people all over the world, but very few of them come from Israel.

Likewise with Muslims. The extremists are in the news because they are extremists, rather than because their religion is Islam.
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tinygiraffe
 
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Reply Fri 26 Oct, 2007 01:00 am
maybe we do have to draw that line, but i don't think it would change anything i said. there are jews in israel that don't support israeli government policy, and those that do, and those outside israel that do, and those that don't.

likewise, there are non-extremist islamics that hate islamic extremists. but everyone should already know that, even if for whatever ridiculous reason, they don't.
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Builder
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Oct, 2007 01:14 am
tinygiraffe wrote:
maybe we do have to draw that line, but i don't think it would change anything i said. there are jews in israel that don't support israeli government policy, and those that do, and those outside israel that do, and those that don't.

likewise, there are non-extremist islamics that hate islamic extremists. but everyone should already know that, even if for whatever ridiculous reason, they don't.


Agreed on the former, but on the latter, those who speak out against the extremists risk death, the death of their families, or torture.

Now ask yourself how many Americans would like to shout down their current administration, but fear to do so because of the Patriot Act, illegal wire-tapping, an indefinite trip to Gitmo, etc?
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tinygiraffe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Oct, 2007 01:22 am
i'm afraid to ask, because i'm not sure how many people care.

at the moment i'm too distracted to follow you. please don't take it personally, i was/am interested in your question.
0 Replies
 
Builder
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Oct, 2007 01:36 am
I'm from Australia, and we are currently in the process of a federal election campaign. Our Prime Minister took it upon himself, despite having no mandate from the electorate, to send our troops (however few they are in number) to join the coalition against terror.

Hopefully our people will not hesitate to dump him in the forthcoming election.

As for my question, hopefully some more Americans might take it on?
0 Replies
 
 

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