Study Says Americans Mistrust One Another

Anti American

Many American identity groups are awfully concerned about one another, according to a new research released by researchers at Baylor University.

Part of the study, called “Fear of The Other” shows that Americans fear “others.” The “other” can be liberal as well as conservative, religious as well as non-religious. Researchers asked respondents about their feelings towards the following four groups:

1. Atheists
2. Conservative Christians
3. Jews
4. Muslims

The researchers came to the following conclusions - Overall, the most feared religious groups in the United States are Muslims, atheists, and conservative Christians, in that order. Instead, at least a quarter of Americans feel that Muslims a) have inferior values, b) want to limit Americans’ freedom, and c) pose a physical threat.

Inferior Values

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“People think atheists have terrible values, but they’re not a physical threat. They think Muslims have inferior values and are also a physical danger,” said Paul Froese, the sociologist at the Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion who led the survey. “People make distinctions between ‘you’re a deviant person’ versus ‘you’re a dangerous person.’ … Over one-third of Americans don’t fear their safety when it comes to conservative Christians, but think they’re out to limit their freedom. You have that interesting dynamic: different kinds of threats.”

The survey demonstrated who fears or mistrusts whom. Fully 50.4% of evangelical Christians, for example, said atheists were morally inferior. The feeling was mutual. The “Nones” said 40.2% of conservative Christians had inferior values. Half of Jews and two out of three Americans with no religion fear that conservative Christians will limit their freedom. About 52 percent of white evangelicals said that Muslims want to limit their freedom, and 46 percent said the same of atheists.

When it comes to physical danger, evangelicals, mainline Protestants and Catholics saw Muslims as the biggest threat. Black Protestants saw atheists as the biggest threat to physical safety, while Jews and nonreligious people saw conservative Christians as the most dangerous.

Some of the claims in the questionnaire the respondents should agree with or not were simply falsehoods. For instance, respondents were asked how much they agreed with the line, “The federal government should allow prayer in public schools.” It is already allowed. Teachers shouldn’t force it upon students, but no atheist group has ever banned prayer — nor would they.

Photo Credits: StaticFlickr

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