We’re number two: Pew poll shows atheists are America’s second-least popular religious group

posted at 8:41 pm on July 16, 2014 by Allahpundit

Good news for Obama, I guess. The group he actually secretly belongs to is slightly more popular than the group his harshest critics accuse him of secretly belonging to.

Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians are viewed warmly by the American public. When asked to rate each group on a “feeling thermometer” ranging from 0 to 100 – where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative possible rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating – all three groups receive an average rating of 60 or higher (63 for Jews, 62 for Catholics and 61 for evangelical Christians). And 44% of the public rates all three groups in the warmest part of the scale (67 or higher).

Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons receive neutral ratings on average, ranging from 48 for Mormons to 53 for Buddhists. The public views atheists and Muslims more coldly; atheists receive an average rating of 41, and Muslims an average rating of 40. Fully 41% of the public rates Muslims in the coldest part of the thermometer (33 or below), and 40% rate atheists in the coldest part.

Not only are Jews the most liked religious group, but per the table below, they’re the only group to draw a “warm” rating from every other major religious group. That’s quite a contrast to recent news from Europe, needless to say. The Atlantic wonders whether it’s a function of (a) Jewish participation in popular culture, (b) the fact that many members of other religious minorities are first- or second-generation whereas the Jewish population is well established in America, or (c) religion-infused politics, with America’s large evangelical population strongly pro-Jewish because of their solidarity with Israel and veneration of Biblical teachings about the “chosen people.”

If the answer is (c), it seems the love is not requited, alas:

rels

White evangelicals view Jews “warmly” with a rating of 69; Jews, meanwhile, give evangelicals a rating of … 34, which is a point lower than their rating of Muslims. Could be that evangelicals, when asked about Jews, instinctively think of Israel and foreign policy whereas Jews, most of whom lean Democratic, think mainly of domestic policy when asked about evangelical Christians. Go figure that a socially liberal, solidly Democratic group would look skeptically at the GOP’s conservative base. When you ask Jews about a Christian group that’s not closely identified with either party, i.e. Catholics, the rating shoots up to 58, the second highest number (behind Buddhists) that Jews gave to any other group. That’s the proof, I think, that the numbers here are to some extent a proxy for politics rather than a gauge of religion.

The same thing’s apparent in the atheist ratings. Atheists give evangelical Christians a rating of just 28, more than 10 points lower than their rating for any other group. That’s not because they see them as significantly more “radical” than, say, Muslims, I suspect; it’s because evangelicals, as an engine of the GOP, have real political muscle and therefore seem threatening to socially liberal nonbelievers. (Evangelicals, meanwhile, gave atheists a rating of 25, the lowest number on the board. Maybe that’s a reaction to perceived political power too, although I tend to think it’s more an expression of pure disdain for the godless.) In fact, look again at the ratings given by atheists and you’ll see a trend — while the two major Christian denominations, which includes most of the public, fail to break 50, several small religious minorities do (Jews, Buddhists, Hindus). It’s not that atheists view all religious believers dimly, in other words, so much as they view the dominant religion as a threat politically.

Exit question: We can’t do better than a 48 for Mormons, America? I know their beliefs are considered “out there” by other religious groups, but they’re very solid citizens and the polygamy thing is ancient history. C’mon.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Atheism is a religion? Really? How can there be a religion without a god of some sort?

HiJack on July 17, 2014 at 1:42 AM

Because atheism is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe,” to quote dictionary.com’s definition of religion, which lists other possible characteristics of a religion but never says that a religion has to have all of those characteristics.

itsnotaboutme on July 17, 2014 at 2:57 AM

John 14:6

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 17, 2014 at 12:25 AM

Never liked John. Kind of a dick with doom and gloom prognostications. Prefer Paul and Thomas.

John the Libertarian on July 17, 2014 at 3:16 AM

I like Mormons. Lubbock has quite a few of them. They seem like nice people. We also have a lot of Mennonites. They also seem like nice people…and then there’s the other EM ‘religion’. They do NOT seem nice at all. In fact the majority are malevolent as hell.

annoyinglittletwerp on July 17, 2014 at 3:24 AM

Jews think that Christians believe that we (the Jewish people) all must die or convert in order for Jesus to return in the second coming.

aunursa on July 16, 2014 at 9:35 PM

Jews think that Christians like them because Christians think Jews all must die or convert?

Why do Jews think this? Where does this strange concept come from? Are Christian haters spreading this?

corkie on July 17, 2014 at 4:34 AM

Which religious group insults us the loudest, and is consistently rewarded for doing so (given TV shows, book deals, newspaper space, etc)? Look, Atheists even gave Muslims a neutral rating compared to us, and Muslims are killing us all over the world! Atheists always look the other way when Christians suffer. There’s your answer.

LancerDL on July 16, 2014 at 9:01 PM

^Precisely. It’s hard to have warm feelings for people when your experience with them is a tendency to verbally flay you as soon as they find out your religion. But we should do our best to be loving towards them anyway, regardless of the temperature of our feelings.

As for Evangelical Christians and Jews, well, I grew up with the idea (which I seem to have developed on my own as was never taught to me) that Judaism was a sort of spiritual cousin of Christianity. I was predisposed to have a positive disposition towards them.

Now, I understand that there’s some bad history between the two groups, which is highly unfortunate, but goes a long way towards explaining not so warm feelings in the other direction. I am, however, surprised that Evangelicals rank lowest in Jewish estimation, given which group is currently set on wiping them off the face of the planet.

The only way to understand the founding and to access fundamental guiding principles for living as man (i.e. morality) is to appreciate, value and pre-suppose that the mind can grasp the facts of reality. The man who accepts faith as a primary virtue is the opposite of this.

beselfish on July 16, 2014 at 10:32 PM

My friend, it’s an expression of “faith” to “pre-suppose that the mind can grasp the facts of reality.” Do you have any evidence that what you say is possible? It’s a decent theory, but if you believe in it without evidence, then you have faith.

but they knock on everybody’s door! I’m Catholic and they’d ask me why I would choose hell over Him!

Mike OMalley on July 16, 2014 at 10:46 PM

You may be surprised to know that quite a few Evangelical Christians consider Catholics part of the bunch, unless given evidence to the contrary. My parents grew up Catholic, and we’ve visited our local Catholic church multiple times. They definitely teach the gospel there!

(Sorry for the long comment! There were multiple things to which I wanted to respond.)

Cheshire_Kat on July 17, 2014 at 4:41 AM

The reason why people don’t like Atheists is because they are so damn annoying. All they do is complain and file lawsuits.

SoulGlo on July 17, 2014 at 5:38 AM

We also have a lot of Mennonites

What about Womennonites?

DethMetalCookieMonst on July 17, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Or perhaps atheists view Muslims as anti-Christian allies?

This is exactly it. This is especially why they forgive Muslims on LGBT issues, and in fact, LGBT people have a specific fondness for Muslims.

They truly believe they can use Muslims as warriors against Christianity.

HikaruKitsune on July 17, 2014 at 8:39 AM

The only way to understand the founding and to access fundamental guiding principles for living as man (i.e. morality) is to appreciate, value and pre-suppose that the mind can grasp the facts of reality. The man who accepts faith as a primary virtue is the opposite of this.

beselfish on July 16, 2014 at 10:32 PM

You realize that the Founders would strongly disagree with your statement – and made several strong comments on the point, even those reputedly with some disagreement on the divinity of Christ.

Zomcon JEM on July 17, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Exit question: We can’t do better than a 48 for Mormons, America?
Meh, I’m over it. I don’t feel a need for other people’s acceptance. I believe what I believe because I think it’s true, not to make friends.

And of course, Harry Reid could be dragging us down as a group maybe?

SupplyGuy on July 17, 2014 at 9:20 AM

Yeah, but…
Who’s your favorite Beatle that’s what I wanna know?

jbspry on July 17, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Atheism is a religion? Really? How can there be a religion without a god of some sort?

HiJack on July 17, 2014 at 1:42 AM

Certainly has been heading that way.
It’s become as dogmatic as any faith. Anointed leaders often aren’t any less arrogant in their insistence that they hold ‘the truth’ than many religious leaders/fundamentalists.
And they are surrounded by acolytes who show up in droves to hear them preach. I mean ‘speak’.

verbaluce on July 17, 2014 at 10:31 AM

What about Womennonites?

DethMetalCookieMonst on July 17, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Come on, man, you’re from just outside Amish Country.

You can do better than that.

HikaruKitsune on July 17, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Exit question: We can’t do better than a 48 for Mormons, America?

They’re getting squeezed from two directions. The main one is from liberal Democrats. They don’t care about Mormon beliefs, they just mind very much that Mormons are nearly uniformly Republican and remember that the GOP’s last nominee was Mormon. You could probably manufacture a 10 point favorability drop for the United Methodist Church if you mentioned in the poll question that George W. Bush is a member.

The other side is evangelical Christians. This is all about theological disagreement. On political issues, ironically, they’re pretty much on the same page, but many evangelicals continue to view the LDS church as a cult.

When you’ve got two very large (and polar opposite) groups both disliking someone, that’s going to drive down the poll numbers.

LukeinNE on July 17, 2014 at 11:46 AM

my friend, it’s an expression of “faith” to “pre-suppose” that the mind can grasp the facts of reality.”

Cheshire Kat on July 17, 2014 at 4:41 AM

Either you contradict yourself or you state it as a matter of faith therefore making it arbitrary in nature and invalid on its face.

It appears, Cheshire Kat, that you have bitten your tail with this one.

beselfish on July 17, 2014 at 11:51 AM

I always heard that Jews were supposed to be very intelligent overall, yet they also overwhelmingly supported odumbass – twice! Kind of puts the kabash on that intelligence myth, doesn’t it?

earlgrey on July 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Comment pages: 1 2