The Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project asked Americans to rate how they feel about different religious groups on a “feelings thermometer.” Guess what? We tend to like people who think and act like us.
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.
Cathy Lynn Grossman from RNS writes:
Jews, one of the nation’s smallest religious groups, benefit from cultural, theological and historic ties with Christians — gaining what might be called a friends-and-family ratings boost.
Meanwhile, America’s largest religious groups, Catholics and Protestants, benefit from self-regard. Pew found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that people rate their own groups higher than others. Still, the groups’ overall average scores are pulled down by those who don’t share these faiths. Catholics give themselves an 80 score while non-Catholics give them a 58. Evangelical Christians score 79 with people who called themselves “born-again” or evangelical, but only 52 with others.
“People are somewhat polarized about evangelicals,” Smith said. The survey finds “roughly as many people give evangelicals a cold rating (27 percent) as give them a warm rating (30 percent).”
“I think it speaks to evangelicals’ prominence in American life. Lots of people know something about them,” he said.
And, according to the survey, some don’t like what they know.
White evangelicals give their highest warmth score to Jews, 69. However, all that warmth is not reciprocated. Jews gave evangelicals overall a much cooler score of 34.
White evangelicals are leery of other non-Christians and downright chilly toward nonbelievers. They rank Buddhists at 39, Hindus at 38 and atheists draw 25 — the lowest score of any group.