Americans Love the Jews. They Really Do

Carla Harmon
February 17, 2017

Among the youngest Americans, atheists are viewed just as warmly as evangelical Christians are, an incredible result.

Jews and Catholics continue to receive warmest ratings, according to a new report from Pew Research.

Pew Center's American Trends Panel is a nationally representative panel of randomly selected USA adults recruited from landline and cellphone random-digit-dial surveys.

All in all, atheists have continued to be among the most disliked groups in America, even if the Pew results suggest they are climbing up in people's opinions.

Pew broke down the ratings according to age - in four age groups: 18 to 29, 30 to 49, 50 to 64 and 65 and older.

In looking at the responses from self-identified Republicans and Democrats, all religious groups except evangelical Christians saw a growing warmth being expressed toward them. But for people who did not know a Muslim, that average was 42 degrees. Ratings for Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons and atheists also rose. In just three years, overall public sentiment has improved for virtually every major religious group - Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, Muslims, (most) Protestants, and yes, even we benighted atheists, who've seen the single highest "temperature" increase (nine points) of any group. A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll found that just 28 percent of Americans hold very or somewhat favorable views of Islam, while 48 percent hold very or somewhat unfavorable views of the faith. So while Republicans saw a 6-degree bump in feelings toward Muslims, Democrats saw a bigger 10-degree jump. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. While the survey did not ask those surveyed for the reasons for their rankings, Kate Shellnutt of Christianity Today speculated that it may have something to do with a lack of exposure to evangelicals today compared with three years ago. Other religious groups with ratings in the 50s from Democratic-leaning participants were evangelical Christians (53), Muslims (56) and atheists (57), with no religious group scoring higher than 66. And Atheists reciprocate the feeling.

Evangelical Christians remained steady at 61 degrees.

There were differences also when it comes to political views. The trend lines, however, are in their favor, as younger Americans were more likely to actually know someone who is Muslim or an atheist, and - no surprise here - are therefore more likely to view them warmly. And Mormons were the lowest-rated religious group for the young adults, at 54. The respondents were asked to rate various religious groups on a "feeling thermometer", with 0 being least warm and 100 being warmest.

And in general, respondents with higher educational background expressed more positive feelings toward all religious groups than did those with lower educational achievements.

It's true: Americans feel more warmly about Jews than any other religious group. Meantime, it should be noted that Jews soared to 91 when asked to rate their feelings toward other Jews, which pretty much tracked the 94% of American Jews who told Pew in 2013 that they were proud or somewhat proud to be Jewish.

A Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday has found that Americans as a whole are warming up to Muslims and atheists in society, with younger people saying the like them as much as they do evangelical Christians.

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