Interview - Robert P. Jones: Attitudes about Islam a Front in American Culture Wars

Interview - Robert P. Jones: Attitudes about Islam a Front in American Culture Wars, But Divisions Over Islam May Be Diminishing

by Julie Poucher Harbin, Editor, ISLAMiCommentary

Robert P. Jones

Robert P. Jones

Americans are nearly evenly divided on whether the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life according to recent findings of a major survey released last month — part of  of the Citizenship, Values, and Cultural Concerns: What Americans Want from Immigration Reform survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in partnership with The Brookings Institution.

However, digging deeper into the demographic data, PRRI and Brookings found that while a majority of Tea Party members, white evangelical Protestants, Republicans, and seniors agree that Islam is at odds with American values and way of life, only a minority of Millenials and Democrats agreed with that assessment.

PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones, in an e-mail interview with ISLAMiCommentary, gave his somewhat encouraging take on the numbers:

“The new PRRI/Brookings Survey demonstrates that attitudes about Islam have become an additional front in the American culture wars,” said Jones. “However, there are some signs that the current divisions may diminish in the future.  While nearly six-in-ten seniors agree that Islam is incompatible with American culture and way of life, only thirty-six percent of Millennials–who are more likely to know someone Muslim–agree.”

Here’s a summary breakdown of the attitudes toward Islam data: 

  • More than 6-in-10 (63%) Republicans and nearly 7-in-10 (69%) members of the Tea Party agree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life, compared to roughly one-third (36%) of Democrats. A majority (54%) of Democrats disagree, saying that the values of Islam are not at odds with American values and way of life. Independents are nearly evenly divided (46% agree, 45% disagree).
  • Two-thirds (67%) of white evangelical Protestants and half (50%) of white mainline Protestants agree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life. Black Protestants, white Catholics, and Hispanic Catholics are divided, while a majority (57%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans disagree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life. [1] Because the question was asked of half the sample, we could not analyze Mormons, Jewish Americans, or Hispanic Protestants for this question.
  • Nearly 6-in-10 (57%) seniors agree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life, compared to roughly one-third (36%) of Millennials. A majority (54%) of Millennials disagree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life.
  • Americans as a whole are nearly evenly divided on whether the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life. (47% agree, 44% disagree.)

The wide-ranging Citizenship, Values, and Cultural Concerns: What Americans Want from Immigration Reform survey  also measured American attitudes toward same-sex marriage, abortion, environmental regulations, and taxes.

DOWNLOAD FULL SURVEY

Related 

Jones spoke at Duke University in January 2013 and addressed current attitudes towards American Muslims, including potential stress points like public expressions of Islam, religious liberty, and concerns about Islam and violence.

WATCH THE LECTURE HERE, IN WHICH ROBERT P. JONES PRESENTED AN OVERVIEW OF PREVIOUS PRRI SURVEY WORK ON AMERICAN ATTITUDES TOWARD AMERICAN MUSLIMS:

WATCH THE Q&A WHERE ROBERT P. JONES ENGAGED IN LIVELY DISCUSSION OF THESE ISSUES WITH DUKE SCHOLARS, STUDENTS, STAFF AND THE PUBLIC ON HIS PRESENTATION AND RELATED THEMES:

Dr. Jones’ visit to Duke was made possible by the Transcultural Islam Project, a an initiative launched last year by the Duke Islamic Studies Center —in partnership with the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies— aimed at deepening understanding of Islam and the Muslim world. See www.islamicommentary.org/about and www.tirnscholars.org/about for more information. The Transcultural Islam Project is funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. 

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