Public Remains Conflicted Over Islam

  • August 24, 2010

The public continues to express conflicted views of Islam. Favorable opinions of Islam have declined since 2005, but there has been virtually no change over the past year in the proportion of Americans saying that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence. As was the case a year ago, slightly more people say the Islamic religion does not encourage violence more than other religions (42%) than say that it does (35%).

Amid controversy over the proposed construction of an Islamic cultural center and mosque near the former site of the World Trade Center, more Americans agree with those who object to the building of the center than with the supporters of the project (51% to 34%). At the same time, 62% say that Muslims should have the same rights as other religious groups to build houses of worship in their local communities; just 25% say local communities should be able to block mosques in their area if they do not want them.

The new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted Aug. 19-22 among 1,003 adults, finds that opinions about Islam are less favorable than in the summer of 2005. Currently, 30% say they have a favorable opinion of Islam while slightly more (38%) have an unfavorable view; nearly a third (32%) offer no opinion. In 2005, slightly more expressed a favorable opinion of Islam than an unfavorable opinion (by 41% to 36%).

Read the full report on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press's Web site.