Poll: Sinking Perceptions Of Islam

GENERIC american us muslims islam crescent flag AP / CBS

Although Americans believe they are better informed about Islam than they were five years ago, a new CBS News poll finds fewer than one in five say their impression of the religion is favorable.

Forty-five percent of respondents queried April 6 - 9 said they have an unfavorable view of Islam, a rise from 36 percent in February. And the public's impression of Islam has diminished even more compared with four years ago. In February 2002 – less than six months after the terrorist attacks of September 11 – the country was evenly divided in its impression of Islam.

WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF ISLAM?


FAVORABLE
Now
19%

2002
30%

UNFAVORABLE
Now
45%

2002
33%


Thirty-six percent of respondents said they haven't heard enough or don't know enough to say either way.

Americans today are also more likely than not to believe that Islam encourages violence, at least in comparison to other religions around the world.

The last few months have seen escalating sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Islamic factions in Iraq and the ongoing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in the United States. The poll finds 46 percent of Americans believe Islam encourages violence more than other religions, compared with 39 percent of Americans who felt that way two months ago and 35 percent who felt that way in March 2002 (according to a Gallup Poll).

When compared with some other religions practiced in America, positive views of Islam rank below those for mainstream Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, and Christian fundamentalist faiths. Only Scientology, of all the religions asked about, ranked lower.

WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF....


PROTESTANTISM/OTHER CHRISTIANS
Favorable
58%

Unfavorable
12%

Don't Know
30%


THE CATHOLIC RELIGION
Favorable
48%

Unfavorable
37%

Don't Know
15%


THE JEWISH RELIGION
Favorable
47%

Unfavorable
16%

Don't Know
37%


CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISTS RELIGIONS
Favorable
31%

Unfavorable
31%

Don't Know
38%


THE MORMON RELIGION
Favorable
20%

Unfavorable
39%

Don't Know
41%


ISLAM
Favorable
19%

Unfavorable
45%

Don't Know
36%


SCIENTOLOGY
Favorable
8%

Unfavorable
52%

Don't Know
40%


For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 899 adults, interviewed by telephone April 6-9, 2006. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. Error for subgroups may be higher.

  • Jennifer Hoar

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