New Research: Americans Holding Less Favorable View of Evangelicals
A Pew Research Center study found that evangelicals are the only religious groupin the United States that Americans have yet to warm up to in the past few years.
According to the survey, feelings toward evangelicals have stayed stable, but Americans have warmed up more to every other faith group this year than they did in 2014.
Jews, Buddhists, Catholics, Mormons, and Hindus all jumped in their standings with Americas. Atheists and Muslims improved the largest in the ratings’ “feelings thermometer.”
Still, evangelicalism is one of the most-liked religious groups in the country, largely because many of the group’s positive ratings came from evangelicals themselves.
The survey found that 44 percent of Americans feel positively about evangelicals, while 38 percent feel neutral and 18 percent feel negatively. When responses do not include evangelicals, only 32 percent feel positively about the group.
Another part of the survey found that Americans who know an evangelical fell by nine percentage points from 2014 to 2017 to 61 percent today. The groups most likely to not know an evangelical were millennials (45 percent) and African Americans (33 percent).
Another reason for non-evangelicals to know fewer evangelicals may be evangelicals’ reluctance to use the label. It’s been speculated that following the election cycle, evangelicals have been less likely to use the term to describe themselves.
“I still employ the term evangelical within academic circles, but I avoid the term elsewhere,” one Evangelical Free Church pastor admitted.
How Americans Feel About Religious Groups
Jews, Catholics & Evangelicals Rated Warmly, Atheists and Muslims More Coldly
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.
These are some of the key findings from a Pew Research Center survey conducted May 30-June 30, 2014, among 3,217 adults who are part of Pew Research’s new American Trends Panel, a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults.1
Groups Tend To Be Rated Most Positively by Their Own Members
Religious groups are rated more positively by their own members than by people from other religious backgrounds. Catholics as a group, for example, receive an average thermometer rating of 80 from Americans who describe themselves as Catholic, compared with 58 from non-Catholics. Similarly, evangelical Christians receive an average rating of 79 from people who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians, compared with an average rating of 52 from non-evangelicals.
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