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Americans Love Jews

But Atheists and Muslims? Not so much, says this survey.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News

Americans feel warmer toward Jews than they do toward any other religious group, and coldest toward Muslims and atheists, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. 

The American Public Loves the Jews and Christians

The poll diagnosed how “warmly” and “coldly” the public perceives people of different faiths, with participants asked to rate religious group on a “feeling thermometer” of 0 to 100. The Jews were rated 63, Catholics 62, and Evangelicals 61. The public gave atheists and Muslims 41 and 40 degrees respectively. Evangelicals rated especially high with Republicans—71, versus 53 from Democrats—while Muslims got 33 from Republicans and 47 from Democrats. 

Jews and atheists, though only 2 percent of the population each, are familiar to the majority of the public, with 61 percent of Americans knowing a Jew and 59 percent knowing an atheist (that they’re aware of, at least). These two groups had the “coolest” view toward Evangelicals out of any group, with atheists giving Evangelicals a 28, a rating rivaled in its frigidity only by Evangelicals’ perception of atheists, at 25. Evangelicals rated Jews at 69—as the report notes, “only Jews rate themselves more highly” at 89, the highest rating of any group by any group surveyed. The approval, however, is unrequited—Jews rated Evangelicals a 34. Atheists and Evangelicals share the same self-love, with each group giving members of their own tribe an 82.

But across the board, if you know someone of a given religious faith, you are more likely to feel warmly toward adherents of that religion. Take the Buddhists: Those who have never known a Buddhist gave them a tepid 48. That number jumped 22 degrees, to 70, among those who do know a Buddhist, suggesting that religious acceptance is more a matter of familiarity than anything else. 

How Religious Groups in the United States See Each Other