An essay donated by Rabbi Allen Maller
How religious Americans view
those of other faiths, and none.
How religious Americans view others:
It is only human for most people to think more highly of themselves and the groups (academic, professional, social, religious, political and national) with which they identify, than they think of others. It is only natural to notice more of your own and your own groups virtues than the virtues of others; and it is only normal to to be less aware of your own groups vices and prejudices than those of others groups.
Thus, it is not surprising that a survey last week by Pew Research, found that evangelical Protestants, who are confident that they are going to Heaven, score a warm rating of 79 with people who called themselves “born-again” or evangelical, but only receive a rating of 52 from others, a 27 point difference!
Catholics also give themselves a similar warm 80 score, while non-Catholics give them a six point warmer score than evangelical Protestants rating at 58. However, that is still a 22 point difference.
And Jews, who do not fear original sin and eternal damnation, rate themselves at a very warm 89, while non-Jews rate Jews as a warm 63, which is 5 points warmer than Catholics, and 11 points above evangelical Protestants, but still a 26 point difference between self and others' ratings.
On the other hand while Atheists gave themselves a 62 rating, others gave them a cool 41 rating, a 21 point difference.
White evangelical Protestants rank Buddhists at 39, Hindus at 38, Muslims at 30, and atheists at only 25; the lowest score of any group.
Atheists give evangelicals an equally low overall rating of 28. But Atheists give much warmer ratings to Buddhists 69, Jews 61 and Hindus 58.
Americans are somewhat polarized about evangelicals. The survey found that:
“roughly as many people give evangelicals a cold rating (27 percent) as give them a warm rating (30 percent).”
The most important results for Jews in this study is the very positive views Americans have of Jews and Judaism. Jewish anxieties about widespread religious anti-semitism are greatly exaggerated.
On the other hand, many Jews need to examine their own negative attitudes toward evangelical Protestants who clearly differ with us in as many areas as we differ with them, yet still have a warmer view of us then we have of them.
White evangelicals rated Jews at a very warm 69, while Jewish respondents gave evangelical Protestants a very cool 34. Most people explain this as due to their 'southern style' and evangelical Protestant missionary efforts to convert Jews, which acts to offset their support for Israel.
Jews and Catholics have warmer views of each other than Jews and evangelical Protestants have because Catholics have no active missionary activities directed toward Jews, and Jews are more likely to know Catholics then they are likely to know evangelical Protestants.
Thus, Catholics are viewed more warmly than evangelical Protestants (58 vs 34), and this is only a little less than the Catholic view of Jews at 61.
These ratings are not a fluke. The Pew results match closely with a similar study in 2007 by political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell for their 2010 book, ”American Grace." The overall order of warm-to-cold views for religious groups is unchanged between the two studies.
Robert D. Putnam & David E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us." Available in Kindle, hardcover, paperback MPC CD and Adible formats. Published in 2012 by Simon & Schuster. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
*Starred Review: In recent controversy over the national motto, In God we trust, Putnam and Campbell see a symptom of profound change in the national character. Using data drawn from two large surveys, the authors plumb these changes. The data show that the tempestuous sixties shook faith in religion and that the seventies and eighties incubated a strong resurgence of devotion. But the two most recent decades add another twist, as young Americans have abandoned the pews in record numbers. Still, despite recent erosion of religious commitment, Americans remain a distinctively devout people. And devotion affects life far from the sanctuary: Putnam and Campbell parse numbers that identify religious Americans as more generous, more civically engaged, and more neighborly than their secularly minded peers. But the analysis most likely to stir debate illuminates how religion has increasingly separated Republicans from Democrats, conservatives from progressives. Readers may blame the Christian Right for this new cultural fissure, but survey statistics mark liberal congregations as the most politicized. But whether looking at politics or piety, the authors complement their statistical analysis with colorful vignettes, humanizing their numbers with episodes from the lives of individual Protestants and Catholics, Jews and Mormons. An essential resource for anyone trying to understand twenty-first-century America. --Bryce Christensen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Author: Allen Maller
Original posting: 2014-JUL-22