The Atlantic recently posted an article by Conor Friedersdorf about the results of polls conducted by the Abu Dhabi branch of the Gallup organization, in cooperation with the U.S. branch, on the political attitudes of various religious groups in the U.S., particularly focusing on how Muslim Americans compare to other groups. The respondents were chosen as a subsample of respondents to ongoing Gallup telephone polling of hundreds of thousands of randomly-selected Americans each year. One major caveat: though Gallup reports that the overall sample is representative of the U.S. population as a whole, the response rate for the subsample of 2,482 individuals chosen to investigate these issues in depth was low: 21% for the first wave, 34% for the second (the methodology begins on p. 57 of the full report). The authors argue the data have been weighted to ensure representativeness, but the low response rates require caution.
One set of questions looked at attitudes about violence toward civilians, whether by military or non-military groups. As we see, Muslims were more likely than any other group to say targeting civilians is never justified:
But every group overwhelmingly said it is “never” justified for a non-military group to attack and kill civilians, though Friedersdorf points out that a not insignificant minority of Americans said that targeting civilians is at least somewhat justified — a proportion that might have been lower if the word “terrorism” had been used to describe targeting civilians, I suspect.
However, Americans are much more divided on whether the military is sometimes justified in targeting and killing civilians. Muslim Americans overwhelmingly reported it is “never” justified, but the only other group where over half of respondents held that view was for non-believers/agnostics. A solid majority of Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons, and a slim majority of Jews, said that it is “sometimes” justified for the military to target civilians:
The full report includes data on a wide variety of indicators of political engagement and perceptions of quality of life and the future. Consistent with the graphs above, Muslim Americans have less confidence in the military and law enforcement agencies such as the FBI than all other groups (with non-believers/agnostics have the second-lowest levels of confidence):
One major area of difference is in perceptions of why people in Muslim countries might have unfavorable views of the U.S. Muslims Americans were the only group where a majority (65%) thought that U.S. actions were mostly responsible for such unfavorable views. For every other group, the majority thought that misinformation distribution by media outlets or governments was the major cause of unfavorable views of the U.S.:
Muslim Americans were much more likely than all other groups to believe they have experienced racial or religious discrimination. Interestingly, Muslim Americans were the only group where women were less likely than men to say they are always treated with respect by members of other religious groups:
The report authors suggest this may be partially due to Muslim women who wear hijab being visibly recognizable as Muslims in a way that may lead to negative interactions or comments from others.
However, despite higher levels of perceived discrimination, overall, Muslim Americans had a generally optimistic view of their future in the U.S.; the majority of respondents said they will be thriving in the future, and they were slightly less likely than other groups to believe they will be struggling:
I’ve just posted a few items that stood out to me here. Check out the full report for a much fuller discussion of attitudes toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, perceptions about quality of life in the U.S., major sources of self-identification (religion, ethnicity, citizenship, etc.), whether Muslims are loyal Americans, and more.