Source: Pew Research Center
Most Americans say religion doesn’t cause violence, but rather that violent people use religion to justify their actions
Views of discrimination against Muslims in the U.S.
Most Americans (59%) say there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims in the U.S. today. This view is particularly common among Democrats (74%); far fewer Republicans and Republican leaners say there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims (42%). And among conservative Republicans, only about one-in-three (32%) say this, while nearly two thirds (62%) say there is not a lot of discrimination against Muslims in the U.S.
Among religious groups, fewer than half of white evangelicals (44%) say there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims in the U.S., compared with half of white mainline Protestants (50%) and two-thirds of black Protestants (67%). Six-in-ten Catholics (61%) and roughly three-quarters of religious “nones” (73%) say there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims in the U.S.
Roughly eight-in-ten adults under age 30 (79%) say there is a lot of anti-Muslim discrimination in the U.S.; far fewer older adults say the same. The data also show that blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to say Muslims face a lot of discrimination in the U.S.
Most Americans (76%) – including majorities of all major partisan and demographic groups – say discrimination against Muslims living in the U.S. is increasing. Even most of those who think there is not a lot of discrimination against Muslims nevertheless think anti-Muslim discrimination is on the rise (56%).
Familiarity with Muslims
About half of Americans (52%) say they personally know someone who is Muslim. This includes 10% who say they know a lot of Muslims, 26% who say they know “some” Muslims and 16% who say they know one or two Muslims.
Blacks, young people and those with a college degree are more likely than other groups to say they personally know someone who is Muslim. This may be explained, in part, by the demographics of Muslims themselves, who make up about 1% of the U.S. population. Muslims in the U.S. tend to be younger and more highly educated than the U.S. publicoverall. And about a quarter of U.S. Muslims (23%) identify as black or African American.
Among those who personally know someone who is Muslim, half (51%) say that “just a few” U.S. Muslims are anti-American. By comparison, among those who do not know anyone who is Muslim, 31% think “just a few” U.S. Muslims are anti-American while a larger share (55%) say at least some Muslims in the U.S. are anti-American.
The study also finds differing views on how the next president should speak about Islamic extremists among those who personally know someone who is Muslim and those who do not. More than half of those who say they know a Muslim (55%) would prefer that the next president be careful not to criticize Islam as a whole when speaking about Islamic extremists, while 38% favor blunt speech from the next president even if it is critical of Islam. By contrast, those who do not know anyone who is Muslim hold mixed views on how the next president should discuss Islamic extremists. As many favor a careful approach (45%) as say they want the next president to speak bluntly (42%).
On the subject of discrimination, however, majorities of both those who personally know someone who is Muslim (62%) and those who do not (57%) say Muslims face “a lot” of discrimination in the U.S. today. And roughly three-quarters in both groups say discrimination toward Muslims is increasing.
Similarly, people who know a Muslim and those who do not largely agree that the bigger problem with religion committed in the name of violence is that violent people use religion to justify their action, not that some religions have teachings that promote violence.