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Evangelicals not popular in US, says survey

24 March 2023

Pew Research Center

A graphic from the Pew Research Center

A graphic from the Pew Research Center

EVANGELICALS in the United States are viewed more negatively by the wider popoulation than Jews, Roman Catholics, and mainline Protestants, a new survey suggests.

The Pew Research Center interviewed 10,588 adults in the United States for the study, which was published last week.

Most respondents viewed Jews positively. This included atheists, who expressed negative views about all other religious groups. “On the whole, 35 per cent of Americans express very or somewhat favorable attitudes toward Jews, while six per cent express unfavorable attitudes,” researchers said.

Jews make up just two per cent of the US population. The positive public attitudes on show in this survey, however, are in contrast to reports of rising anti-Semitic attacks in the US.

Evangelical Christians received some of the lowest ratings by other faith groups.

Researchers said: “Overall, similar shares of the whole public say they view evangelical Christians favorably (28%) and unfavorably (27%). But among Americans who are not themselves born-again or evangelical Protestants, the balance of opinion is much more negative (32% unfavorable vs. 18% favorable). Some of this sentiment is tied up with politics: Democrats who are not born-again or evangelical Protestants are far more likely than non-evangelical Republicans to view evangelicals negatively (47% vs. 14%, respectively).”

Overall, those surveyed expressed more favourable than unfavourable attitudes towards Protestants (30 per cent to ten per cent) and Roman Catholics (34 per cent favourable to 18 per cent unfavourable).

Attitudes to atheists, Muslims, and Mormons were less positive, with more people holding unfavourable views than favourable. Only 15 per cent held positive views of Mormons, compared with 25 per cent who said that they held very or somewhat unfavourable views.

The survey also found that knowing someone from a faith group was likely to mean holding a more favourable opinion of that faith group as a whole, although Evangelical Christians and Mormons were the exception to this. Those who knew an Evangelical Christian or Mormon personally were more likely than those who did not to express a positive view, but they were also slightly more likely to offer a negative view of Evangelicals as a whole.

Researchers noted that many of those surveyed wanted to resist rating faith groups as a whole, and were likely to give a neutral — neither favourable or unfavourable — response as a result.

The survey found strong links between party political affiliations and views of religious groups. Both Democrats and Republicans view Jews favourably, but Republicans are more likely to express negative views towards atheists and Muslims, while Democrats hold more favourable opinions. Democrats also view Evangelicals less favourably, while Republicans are more likely to hold positive views about Evangelical Christians.

Both Republican and Democrats are more likely to hold negative views of Mormons than positive.

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