Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Statistical data from Roman Iqbar's talk

As I started into this second section of Mr. Iqbar's talk, I decided that complete sentences were optional. A lot of this is statistical data, and may be of interest to readers--just be forwarned that this will not read like a typical blog or diary post.

How Americans view Muslims. Pew Research Center poll from July 2005

Favorable opinion of Muslims: 55% of Americans 25% unfavorable
Among people who know a Muslim, 74% favorable, 12% unfavorable

Note, much of data doesn't distinguish between Muslims and Arabs, and Arabs are only 25% of the Muslim population in the U.S. This adds another dimension, because 75% of Arab Americans are actually Christian, and only 25% are Muslims.

People who have a higher knowledge of Islam as a religion tend to have a better opinion than those whose knowledge of Islam is low.

The most favorable group of Americans are the Jews, then the Catholics, then the Evangelicals, then the Muslims. But the group that Americans do not trust, surprisingly, are the Atheists. The numbers are pretty staggering, actually. Only 35% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Atheists, so 65% of all Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Atheists, which is pretty shocking, to say the least.

ABC/Washington Post poll from this year in March asked Americans of different religious denominations and races what did they think of Muslims. What I found surprising was that for Americans who are not religious, 33% of them have an unfavorable opinion of Muslims, which is the lowest among all groups in the U.S. which they polled. Now, the people who had actually the least favorable opinion of Muslims are the white evangelicals, which is 61% do not like Muslims. While the people who like Muslims the most among the American demographic are the people who do not have a religion. So you would think there would be a natural alliance, that Muslims would tend to seek nonreligious Americans, because they tend to have the best opinion of Muslims.

Asked about predjudiced feelings towards Muslims and Arabs, 24% of White Evangelicals admitted to this. Again, nonreligious Americans had the least hostility, only 12%.

Asked, do you believe that Islam encourages violence, almost half of White Evangelicals believed this, while nonreligious Americans were more likely to see Islam as a religion of peace.

Roman Iqbar did some research on this perception among White Evangelicals. It's been going on forever, but especially in the last 5 years, a lot of the televangelists have started saying things in public (television, radio) that seems pretty bigoted.

Franklin Graham: "Islam is an evil and wicked religion." And he said last year, "I think terrorism is more mainstream, and it is just not a handful of extremists. If you buy the Koran, read it for yourself, it's in there--the violence that it preaches is in there." Franklin Graham is obviously a very popular evangelist, and he has a big following.

He goes on to say that he found so much from Jerry Falwell that he didn't even bother with it, so moved on to Pat Robertson. Talking about Islam in 2003 on television, he said "Who has ever heard of such a bloody, bloody type of religion? But that's what it is. It is not a religion of peace, it's a religion of violence." Then, talking about the founder of Islam, Mohammed, he says, "This man, prophet Mohammed, was an absolute wild-eyed, fanatic, and to say that these terrorists distort Islam--they are carrying out Islam. And thre are so many things from these televangelists, I could go on for all day, but you get the flavor of it.

Another poll by Project MAPS and by Zogby International--the most comprehensive polling done on Muslims. It was done in 2004, and looked at who the Muslims are, and what they believe in. Seems to be the most reliable poll on what the Muslims hold dear, and what they believe in, and where they're headed.

How do you identify yourself?
50% Democrats
12% Republicans
31% Independents, higher than for any other demographic in the U.S.

Don't fit neatly into a party--Muslims tend to be religious, but more liberal on issues related to social justice.

Questions: Should the influence of religion and moral values in public life increase in America?
85% said yes

Should people be allowed to take kids out of public schools and get school vouchers to send them to religious private schools?
Almost 66% agreed with that.

Should the public sale and display of pornography be allowed or disallowed?
Almost 76% want laws prohibiting or at least restricting the sale and display of pornography.

Should religious institutions be allowed to ask the government for money?
Almost 70% of Muslims agreed with that

Should it be legal for doctors to give people means to end their own lives?
Almost 65% of Muslims disagreed with that

All of these so far are issues where Muslims are closely aligned with White Evangelicals. Where they differ--

Should it be allowed to display the Ten Commandments?
Almost 45% of Muslims say no, while almost 80% of White Evengelicals want the public display of the Ten Commlandments.

Should nondenominational prayer be allowed in schools?
Almost half of Muslims opposed, White Evangelicals mostly supported.

Almost 65% of Muslims do want more research using stem cells.
Almost half would not allow same-sex marriage

Do you believe that there should be universal health care for all citizens?
96% in favor

Do you believe the government should be more generous with welfare?
92% in favor, even though as a percentage, very few Muslims need welfare

81% want more controls on guns
94% want more laws and regulations to control pollution and protect the environment, even at the cost of jobs

Should there be an increase in funding for after-school programs?
Almost 94% said yes. And this is where they really differ from the Evangelicals, who have an extreme mistrust of the public school system, do not agree with it, do not want it to be funded, while the Muslims, at least in 2004, do seem to like the public schools. They want to strengthen them, more after school programs, more teachers, and they are generally in support of public schools.

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