A new Pew study on how Americans view and feel about various religious groups in the US has produced some pretty illuminating data.
The report, entitled "How Americans Feel About Religious Groups" had participants rate how they felt about people of various religions and atheists on a "feeling thermometer"—a scale from 0-100. The higher the degree, the more warmly they felt about the given religions. While everyone was in more or less in the middle of the road—all of the scores ranged from 40 to 63—there were some clear groupings.
Jews received the highest score of 63, a warm-ish spring day. They were closely followed by Catholics (62) and Evangelical Christians (61). Then come the middle of the road crowd, Buddhist scored 53, Hindus came in with a completely neutral 50, and Mormons were at 48. Then things really start to go downhill. As we know, Americans haven't quite warmed up to Atheists quite yet, but I didn't expect the absence of a belief in God to really fall so low as 41. So it's not surprising, but all in all really unfortunate that the only thing more coldly received than not believing in god is believing in Allah. Muslims were ranked at the bottom with 40. Sigh.
The study found that people of a certain religion tended to rank their own belief higher, which helps explains why Evangelicals sit so high. There are simply more of them. But the ranking patterns highlight some interesting religion relations:
When asked about other non-Christian groups, evangelicals tend to express more negative views. White evangelicals assign Buddhists an average rating of 39, Hindus 38, Muslims 30 and atheists 25. The chilliness between evangelicals and atheists goes both ways. Atheists give evangelical Christians a cold rating of 28 on average.
The study also took a look at how age and race play into feelings about religion, but the most interesting analysis was how politics came into play. Republicans ranked Evangelical Christians on top with 71, Mormons were neutral with 52 and Atheists and Muslims were nearly freezing at 34 and 33 respectively. Meanwhile the Dems had much more neutral spread in general with Jews at 62, Evangelicals and Muslims straddling neutrality at 53 and 47 respectively, and Mormons hanging out at the bottom at 44.
As interesting as this all is, clearly the takeaway is that here in America, we should do away with religion or at least stop judging people for what they do between clasped palms and start judging people the way god (or the absence of her) intended: by how many corn dogs you can eat in a sitting and your aptitude for Mario Kart. It's the American Way.