America welcomes Christians, Jews; atheists, Muslims not so much

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Graphic courtesy of LifeWay Research

Graphic courtesy of LifeWay Research

(RNS) Americans are all for religious freedom — but disagree on who can claim it.

Diverse religious groups are recognized — but Christians and Jews are significantly more welcome than atheists, and many don’t see a welcome mat for Muslims. And not everyone means the same thing when speaking of a “Christian” nation.

So finds a new look at Americans’ religious self-image, detailed in a LifeWay Research survey released Wednesday (July 29).

The survey finds overwhelming agreement on the meaning of religious freedom. More than 9 in 10 say Americans are free to choose their religious beliefs, to practice their faith in daily life, to build a house of worship and to tell others about their beliefs.

READ: The one group still excluded from the Boy Scouts — atheists

But there is a big gap in views on whether business owners should be free to “run a business in accordance with their beliefs.”

While 78 percent overall said this is an “American right,” that fell to 62 percent among those who don’t identify with any particular religious group.

The LifeWay survey of 1,000 U.S. adults was conducted in September 2014, after the Supreme Court ruled that the evangelical owners of the Hobby Lobby craft store chain did not have to offer insurance coverage for contraception. While the high court did not legalize same-sex marriage nationwide until June, when the survey was being conducted there were already nationally publicized state court cases involving wedding vendors refusing service to same-sex couples.

And people hear the same question in different ways, said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, an evangelical research firm based in Nashville.

“When we ask people about what America thinks, what America is like, their answers are influenced by what is flashing in their minds. The news. The people they know. What they’ve seen themselves or what their friends experienced,” he said.

READ: Americans view Jews, Christians warmly; atheists, Muslims get cold shoulder

Take the question of whether the United States is a “Christian nation.” Only 19 percent say it is, even though Christians make up 70 percent of the population.

McConnell says answers to the survey depend on people’s frame of reference. “Do they define ‘Christian nation’ by population or by ideology — by whether they think Christianity is driving the thinking, driving the culture of the nation?”

Graphic courtesy of LifeWay Research

Graphic courtesy of LifeWay Research

Nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) recognize the USA as a nation of many religions. However, that doesn’t translate to a welcome mat at everyone’s front door.

Roughly 9 in 10 Americans say it is a welcoming place for Christians and Jews. Only 67 percent say it is welcoming to atheists, usually in last place on public favorability polls.

And just 57 percent see America as welcoming to Muslims, according to the survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, was not surprised by the numbers — but not pleased by them, either.

“You are not all that happy when you are the second-most-unwelcomed group in the country. It feels terrible to be completely unrepresented in Congress or for the entire Republican Party to view us as irrelevant at best and immoral at worst,” said Silverman.

READ: Christians lose ground, ‘nones’ soar in new portrait of US religion

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, shrugged at the statistic.

“It’s not really clear if this is good news or bad news. People of faith are predisposed to welcoming other people of faith. So I’ll give this the best possible interpretation — that people are hoping they are welcoming,” he said.

He’s waiting for the day that surveys ask, “How welcome do Muslims feel in America?”


  • Bernardo

    And why the expansion of Islam? (typically in Islamic theocracies)

    The number of global Muslims indeed is 1.5 billion basically because of the very high birth rate in Islam.

    According to official surveys, “the disapproval of family planning is highest among Muslims”, while “the practice of family planning methods in 1980 was lowest amongst Muslims (only 23% of those surveyed practised it as opposed to 36% Hindus)”.[1] They further admit that between 1971 and 1981, “the Hindu population was up by 24.15%, whereas the Muslim population shot up by 30.59%”.

    Once the bowers to Mecca, however, see that they have been conned by the “angelic” hallucinations of a long-dead, warmongering, womanizing (11 wives) Arab, these 1.5 billion lost souls will quickly become secularists, are gnostics or atheists and a semblance a global peace will spread across the globe.

    And why aren’t Muslims welcomed in the USA?

    o “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.”…

  • Muhammad Khan

    I think there is a lack of information about “other faiths”,those that one is not born in and Islam in particular.,eg.Did you know that?
    Islam is a religion of inclusion.Muslims believe in all the prophets of old and new testaments.
    Therefore it is educational to read Quran the unchanged,original word of God,the last and final testament>
    Let us build bridges through education.

  • Unhammad Can

    The Quran has some pretty killer verses in it, literally. If it’s the word of god, god is quite the promoter of killing.

    See here

    Religion of peace my tutu…

  • Spank Your Imam

    Muhammad Khan do not be selling the Islam serially here as such and with embracement without mentioning spanking intensively. Officiating imam and brothers and sisters must be spanked to red posteriority before and after embracing actions.

    Both buttcheeks of embracers must receive high frequency applications at significant vigorousness and amplitude to cause bright blushness. Imams should receive such spanking thusly in triplicate. Sitting difficulties will proceed but temporarily if Allah is willing and healing of reddishness is granted.

    Thus you are spanken.

    Here it is written and must be so.
    Here it is written and must be so.
    Here it is written thrice and must certainly be so.

  • Greg1

    When the Muslims begin to vocally stand up to the so called radicals, then they will be viewed a little bit better. But when the crazy ones open fire on Christians, and the local Muslims say nothing, then one must assume they either explicitly support their counterparts, or they implicitly support their counterparts. It won’t be long, however, until the Christians are the less favorable minority. There will come a time when unless you are Episcopal, Presbyterian, or any of the Leftist sects which support gay marriage, then the rest will become the “haters.” But that is okay, as Jesus said, “[y]ou will be hated by all men for my name’s sake, but he who endures to the end will be saved.” Matt 10:22. So be it.

  • Dean

    I’m sure you would have stood up bravely and loudly against the witch burners of your own religion back in that day. No, really. /s

    Islam is mostly just late to the same game but there was a time when Christianity was similarly evil. We are better off without either religion. It’s all bogus anyway.

  • Jack

    What’s “all bogus?”

  • Dean

    I’ll let you buy a vowel. Just one though.

  • Greg1

    Jack, the Dean apparently forgot that contractions are permitted by rule in the English language. He also has an issue with Presentism.

  • Dean

    Greg1, I wasn’t referring to Jack’s use of “What’s”. Can you grok that?

  • Neon Genesis

    Perhaps atheists would be more popular if they did more to actively kick out the misogynists in their communities.

  • ronald

    Exactly! That is why we Christians are at the top of the list, because we do such a good job kicking out the misogynists.

    Misogynism is why the athiests support issues like pro-choice, because abortion leads to emotional trauma and physical problems for women. We Christians want to protect the women from those outcomes because we respect women. That is why we are the most welcome.

  • Pete

    The Koran is NOT the unchanged word of God as muslims would have you believe. A man named Uthman destroyed thousangs of Korans that didnt agree with his political aspirations and left only two korans surviving. That is why it “Appears” unchanged…..all the ones that disagreed were destroyed.

  • Roberto

    Is paganism welcome in USA?

  • Billysees

    ” When the Muslims begin to vocally stand up to the so called radicals, then they will be viewed a little bit better. ”

    Well said.

    Radicals just don’t have the LOVE in them that ‘spiritually minded’ people crave. All kinds of religious extremism will diminish eventually but it could take a long time.

    Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…may take a very long time.

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  • rhcrest

    When I can walk by a muslim without having to worry that they are going to go sudden jihad- and that would be never- then I would welcome them. I would prefer that muslims not be here in America at all. I am sick of their violence and their demands that Americans change their ways to accommodate their murderous ideology

  • Be Brave

    The “Nones” don’t kill anyone in the name of None-ism. Atheists only kill by drug use, suicide, abortion and typical hedonism. Christians don’t kill anyone in Christ’s name.

    Islam has not stopped killing in the name of allah since Mohammad started his religion of killing by killing anyone that refused to become a Muslim. No one gets a scary feeling when an Atheist club comes to town. No one fears another Christian denomination putting up a Church in town. The Nones, are only dangerous to themselves and others through immoral acts.

    But when a Mosque goes up anywhere in America, the dread of that is the sensible knowledge that sooner or later the Muslims that “worship” there will one day attack or subjugate all non believers.

  • Be Brave

    The USA IS paganism.

    What? You don’t know what Hollywood is?

  • ben in oakland

    Actually, it’s not the last and final testament. the Book of Mormon is the last and final testament.

    Until the next one.

  • ben in oakland

    Ooops! Forgot “Science and Health”.

    until the next one.

  • ben in oakland

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a sterling and stirring defense of religious barbarism.

  • ben in oakland

    When I can walk by a fundamentalist Christian without having to worry that they are going to go sudden “god hates f**s- and that would be never- then I would welcome them. I would prefer that fundamentalist Chrsitnas not be here in America at all. I am sick of their violence and their demands that non-fundamentalist Americans change their ways to accommodate their murderous ideology

  • ben in oakland

    You obviously never saw the bumper sticker “Kill a Queer for Christ”, or listened to any number of christian fundamentalists call for the death penalty for gay people, and have completely forgotten the wars between protestants and Catholics.

  • ben in oakland

    Or listened to your own rhetoric.

    Don’t know how I could have forgotten THAT.

  • Ben in Oakland

    Fundamentalist Protestantism and fundamentalist Catholicism are only inclusive if one becomes a fundamentalist. Otherwise it is utterly hostile to allowing others to live with peace and freedom to be non or anti Fundaemntalist. You left that part out. The world of freedom ends when the world of FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIANITY takes over.

    In the book: THE BIBLE, by a number of unknown authors over centuries, it is clear that FUNDAMENTALIST HETEROSEXUAL CHRISTIANS believes that everyone is or ought to be actually a FUNDAMENTALIST HETEROSEXUAL from conception but only needs to be forced to accept that. Fundamentalist Christianity led to world horrors unimaginable even with the current horrors of Islam to date. As Christianity brought us the African slave trade, and still does today bring us slavery en masse, the future looks very much like the picture painted in Revelations.

    The seven stars, of course, being the churches of the time.

    There. Fioxed it for you.

  • Jack

    But the USA is not Hollywood and hence the USA is not paganism.

    People like Hollywood to entertain them but most people realize that Hollywood isn’t reality and thus most American life does not mimic Hollywood.

  • “Take the question of whether the United States is a “Christian nation.” Only 19 percent say it is, even though Christians make up 70 percent of the population.”

    70% of the American may identify as Christian but that statistic, cited most recently in a Pew Research study back in May, is based on a rather loose definition of what being a Christian is. Just as standing in a garage and declaring oneself a car does not make it so, neither are 70 percent of Americans Christians.

  • Neon Genesis

    That’s not what I was referring to as I am pro-choice myself. What I was referring to was the long history of sexual harassment and death threats against feminist atheists that have plagued many atheist and skepticism communities as of late.

  • Bernardo

    Considering the number of Muslims who die at the hands of other Muslims, one assumes that the growth rate will be tampered by the death rate. Such a “peaceful” religion!!

  • Sukhamaya Bain

    The results are not surprising. Most Americans are religious and Christians; and they know that Judaism is the root of Christianity. Thus, Christians and Jews are most welcome. However, having some common sense, a lot of them can see that the beliefs in the so-called God are not very logical, and that hating people for religion is wrong. Thus atheists fare quite well (67%) compared to Christians and Jews (90%). The Muslims actually do better (57%) than what could have been, in spite of what their co-religionists almost all over the world have been doing to humanity. And I am not talking about terrorist attacks on powerful nations; I am talking about atrocities against weak, innocent and nonviolent non-Muslims. Any American humanist with any knowledge about the Muslims in the world would be worried about an America with a significant and powerful Muslim population.

  • Mary

    Not quite, Jack. Much of America, sadly, looks up to some pretty banal and plasticky Hollywood characters as models they aspire to be like. Sad as that situation is, there it is.

  • Shawnie5

    Sorry, Ben, but major fail. Our world is quite naturally a world of horrors down through all the millenia of civilization and beyond. That you even have a problem today with such historic universals as slavery is the result of one thing only, and that is christian influence in the west which led to its repudiation not once but twice. NOBODY else ever produced a compelling rationale for repudiating it even once.

  • Larry

    “Our world is quite naturally a world of horrors down through all the millenia of civilization and beyond.”

    So why bother trying to make the world better? You will just pray away and receive your reward in the afterlife. Your view of the world is pretty horrific and useless. Just an excuse to sit on your hands and be indifferent (or malicious) to others.

    “and that is christian influence in the west which led to its repudiation not once but twice. ”

    To omit Christian influence which promulgated slavery in the west renders your statement half-true with a dishonest intention. If your Christian influence is so great, you would not have needed to distort facts so obviously to support it.

  • Shawnie5

    “So why bother trying to make the world better?”

    Because that is our responsibility as the body of Christ.

    Still waiting for those non-Christian sources of abolitionism. Did Wikipedia fail you again?

  • Be Brave

    They are spreading by replacing the dead non-Muslims they slaughter to create and Islamic society. They’ve been doing that since Mohammad and his warrior Muslims set up his kingdom by slaughtering everyone that wouldn’t become a Muslim or slave of one.

    Where does Islam deserve any welcome by non-Muslims?

    No where.

  • Be Brave

    Look, “Muhammad,”

    You know perfectly well that Islam really teaches that everyone is a Muslim, they just need to be “educated” to know so. The very history of Islam, the religion invented by one illiterate man and his interpreter, is complete with genocide against anyone that refuses to convert.

    Too many people are studying Islam for you guys to pretend that Islam is not the violent intolerant machine that its founder, an illiterate man in a cave, invented for world conquest.

  • John

    Of course the USA is welcoming to Muslims. We bend over backwards to be nice, polite and politically correct even downplaying Muslim extremism in the states so as to avoid offending all Muslims. In fact Islam is probably the one religion that gets the biggest and most frequent “pass” in media and politics.

  • John

    Actually…no I’ve never seen such a bumper stick nor do I know any Christians who have said such a thing. I don’t recall hearing anyone including Christians calling for the death penalty for homosexuals in this nation excluding perhaps the idiotic nut cases that are Westboro and hardly indicative of Christians. Yes there were wars between Protestants and Catholics for many different reasons (usually involving money, power, and politics) as well as millennium of wars between Islam and non-Islamic lands (usually involving money, power, and politics).

    I know of no Christian philosophy or religion (outside the Roman Catholic Church up to about 1800) that has justified the use of force to impose religion on others. Today I know of no Christian denomination, including the Catholic Church, that suggests that force or warfare should be used to advance religious ends. Nor do I know of any large entrenched Christian terrorist organization that is trying to form a nation state.

  • John

    Do Muslims accept the New Testament claims about Jesus? Do they accept Jesus’ own prophetic claims about Himself. “I am the way the truth the life, no one comes to the Father except through me?” What about the words of the Gospel of John that Jesus is God in the flesh (John Chapter 1)? Islam often claims to be bigger and able to accept Christianity, but its faith excludes the core truths of Christianity (Jesus is God for example) and the behavior of its adherents in killing Christians speaks louder than words such as Muhammad Khan’s.

  • John

    There is a huge difference between a Christian fundamentalist saying that gods hates homosexuals and a Muslim fundamentalist who will kill others who disagree with them. Yes, hate motivates some Christian fundamentalists to harm others and it is inexcusable, just as inexcusable as radical Islamists killing people. But it seems that in this world there are far more radical Islamic terrorists willing to kill people (and doing it) than there are radical hateful Christian fundamentalists that are harming and killing people. In America we are free to say I don’t like Christian fundamentalists, Christian liberals, heterosexuals, homosexuals, metrosexuals, and anyone else. Not liking, even hating and not wanting to associate with, is hardly the same as deliberately killing them.

  • John

    If you do some research you will learn that actually the areas of Africa that were first involved and most prolific in establishing the slave trade with the west were in fact Islamic regions.

  • Ben in oakland

    Well, when it comes to that, the behavior of Christians killing Christians, orchristians killing Jews,Speaks louder than the words of anyone, including the words of Jesus.

  • Ben in oakland

    It’s only a difference of degree, not a difference in kind, at least if you’re a gay person on the receiving end of so called Christian so called love.

    There is a regular poster on these pages who has called for my execution. And it’s not the Pastor Steven Anderson, Although he is done this as well.

    There are people in the Republican Party and in fundamentalistchurches that have called my very life a threat to morality, marriage, family, children, faith, freedom, and Western civilization, such as it is. My freedom to live my life is seen by them as opressing them.. Some of them have called for my death. The rest, though they haven’t called for my death, are perfectly happy to incite those who would be happy to kill me, if only they were not so afraid of civil consequences. Nevertheless, some of them kill, as witnessed by the iOrthodox Jewish man who just murdered a woman, and endangered the lives of many more.

    It may be inexcusable, but it is common enough.

  • Ben in oakland

    I take it you are a Hindu.

    I can assure you, a great many of a secular Americans are very concerned about Christians of the fundamentalist variety have in the amount of power that they do. I’m far more worried about them, then I am about Muslims in America. You might want to look up what Sinclair Lewis had to say on the subject: I can assure you, great many of a secular Americans are very concerned about Christians of the fundamentalist variety have in the amount of power that they do. I’m far more worried about them, then I am about Muslims in America. You might want to look up what Sinclair Lewis had to say on the subject. More or less as follows:

    Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag, carrying a bible, and wearing a cross.

  • Ben in oakland

    The media has given up for bigger pass to Christianity, at least of the conservative, fundamentalist, and social issues class. And its atrocities are simply ignored, until they no longer can be, and Then are ascribed to extremists.

  • Ben in oakland

    Absolutely, of course it is a world of horrors. So much of it has been, and continues to be, promulgated by people who claim to speak for God. It doesn’t matter whether they are Christian, Jew, or Muslim. Or for that matter, Hindu or Buddhist, as they have also joined the forces of murderous religion.

    The difference between you and me is that I have much more faith in humanity, not viewing other people as pustules of sin.

    As far as your comments about slavery, nonsense. I’ve posted so many times a link quoting just some of the justifications for slavery, genocide, and segregation. One more time: yes indeed some Christians opposed slavery and segregation by reason of their Bibles. And a great many other Christians supported and justified slavery by reason of their bible. To claim that they had no biblical justification for it Is simply denying that they used the Bible to justify it Because YOu don’t think it does. That’s just revisionism.

  • Ben in oakland

    Sure. Shawnee.

    All you have to do is Google “non-Christian sources of abolitionism.” There is a wealth of information available.

    Pretty silly, girlfriend.

  • Ben in oakland

    Of course, John. But let’s not change the subject.

    They have a very enthusiastic customer base in the southern states.

  • God

    As opposed to Christians right, who never slaughtered and raped anyone during the crusades. You know, you’re a biggot right?

  • God

    And Christianity has quotes about stoning people to death for wearing mixed fabrics. It has a story about a monk who gets called bald and has a bear kill the kids. It states how much a woman costs to buy if she is raped, and how she muat be subaerviant. Gtfo here, you don’t even know your own religion.

  • Carol Bain

    No, Shawnie the Christian bible supports slavery in very detailed ways. Yes, many Christians later opposed slavery, but that was in spite of their religion, not because of it. It was also the case at the time that few could live their daily lives without at least feigning support for Christianity, else they would be shunned or even punished, so it would have been an exception to find a non-Christian then and there. Claiming Christianity is the cause of the end of slavery is just plain wrong.

  • ben in oakland

    If you haven’t seen this, perhaps you don’t want to?

    Google “Christian statements calling for death penalty for homosexuals.” 8 MILLION HITS. Our resident homobigot has called for a levitical solution to homosexuality. I wonder what that might be? Pastor Steven Anderson has called for death.

    you just don’t wish to see it.

    And of course, there are all those who call us a threat to children, faith, and civilization itself– all in the name of love. And if someone gets murdered because of that by some unhinged jew or Christian, well, it’s not THEIR fault.


    Just last Friday, bishop vitus huonder quoted Leviticus 20:13: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” In response to applause (!!!) he continued: “Both of these passages alone suffice to clarify unambiguously the church’s position on homosexuality”. I wonder what he meant by…

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  • Mark

    The Crusades? Are you serious? You have to go back that far to pick out an example?! Your comment is a joke. Christians are responsible for most of the charities that hold society together, the shelters, the hospitals, the schools. Democracy was created in a Christian society (and for those ignorant enough to think it, democracy was not created by the US).

  • Mark

    … and neither do you if you take Old Testament words as literal. That is why there is the New Testament. Education, try some.

  • Ma Liang

    And this is coming from a coward who has the audacity to call himself “God”?

  • Ma Liang

    I am no Hindu, neither am I a fundamentalist evangelist Christian, nor was I raised at all with any kind of religious background, yet I too, must honestly tell you that I, too, am deeply concerned. Muslim radicalism in the United States may not be as serious as it is in Europe, but let me tell you, it does indeed exist.

    Tell me, how many Muslim-Americans have joined the Syrian civil war or ISIS in the last few years? Never mind the lone wolf attacks. They can play the victim all they want, it may work for them as well, but I refuse to close my eyes to the violence their religion sows around the planet, including in China today.

  • Sukhamaya Bain

    Let me say first that keeping silent is not necessarily consenting. I did not see any logic here in assuming that I was a Hindu, so I did not bother to correct Ben. But let me clarify that my parents considered themselves Hindus, but I am not a Hindu; I have observed enough of the world to see that religious beliefs and identities are pointless absurdities.

    In any case, I am not much concerned about the Christians of the USA, as they are in the path to progress. After all almost a fifth of the US population do not identify themselves in terms of any religion; and that progress of human common sense has happened without the Christians murdering any apostate in the recent decades.

  • Joe

    I have been told by many muslims that i believe the wrong thing and Jesus is not the son of god and god didn’t need to rest on the 7th day and so on, see i don’t judge or come to assume whose right or whose wrong but what i do know is that God is all powerful he can do anything. And I ask any muslims to answer to these charges of sin and pride and war between them, who are u to say what the lord your God can or can’t do .who are u to assume you know Gods will who are you to say the lord doesn’t have a son how dare you .the lord is all powerful with him and through him all things are possible how dare u say god didn’t touch mary and bless her with thy fruit of thy womb Jesus, how dare you tell gods children they are not loved and will forever burn in hell. How dare you say who god will forgive or not forgive. Who are you to judge, you have spoken blasphemy against the lord your god , you are a violent nation full of hatred and pride and bringers of death and destruction to gods…

  • Joe

    You rape and murder women and children who refuse to believe as you do ,you slaughter your own daughters for their sins against your house and not gods house sins against your own reputation and not the lords , how dare you take another life in the name of God because they are Christians, you make your prophet Muhammad an idol and praise him a violent man who started many of wars and slaughtered whole villages though shalt not kill u are not the exception. You send children with c4 plastic explosives strapped to their little bodys and lie and tell them they will wake up in paradise with allahs love and arms around them, God said if you bring a little child to sin it would be better for you to tie a millstone around your neck and jump in the deepest ocean then to face the lord your God on judgement day. And with that ill end , i pray that we all go to be with the father he doesn’t want any of us to be thrown in the lake of fire he wants all of us to be with him .

  • Joe

    Repent remember when God destroyed man with a flood for their sins And evil ways, revelations say God will let his wrath out again on man for his sins this time with fire , it says us now will see Jesus coming back in the clouds we will see the end and be judged so if God is going to cleanse the earth once more because of mans evil twisted and sick sins . So obviously your not right none of us are God only knows , and as many muslims has asked me let me ask them “WHAT IF YOUR WRONG” because by the time u find out itll be to late u cant ask for forgiveness after you die by then its entirely to late to say sorry .