Lifeway Research surveyed Americans and Protestant pastors to gauge views toward Islam among both groups. See the full research story, Pastors Grow More Polarized on Islam, at Lifeway Research.
Here are seven key findings of the research.
1. Protestant pastors are increasingly polarized about Islam, with a growing share labeling the Muslim faith violent (49 percent) while a sharply rising minority calls it spiritually good (32 percent).
2. About two-thirds of Protestant pastors in America think coexisting should be a goal. Sixty-six percent believe Christianity and Islam should seek to coexist in the U.S.
3. Most pastors have first-hand experience with Islam. More than 7 in 10 (71 percent) of pastors say they know a Muslim personally.
4. Americans are more likely than pastors to see common ground between Islam and Christianity. While 83 percent of pastors say Islam and Christianity are fundamentally different, more than a third of Americans say the two faiths are similar
5. Americans are evenly split on whether or not Christians and Muslims pray to the same God. Forty-six percent say they do, 47 percent disagree.
6. For most Americans, Islam isn’t a black-and-white issue. While 31 percent of Americans say Islam is tolerant, almost as many (26 percent) say it promotes violence. Equal numbers find Islam to be dangerous and open (29 percent each). Not a single characteristic—positive or negative—gains agreement from a majority.
7. Young adults have the highest view of Islam. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, a majority (54 percent) say Islam is spiritually good. They are also the age group most likely to say Islam is relevant today (56 percent), similar to Christianity (53 percent), and tolerant (42 percent).
After reading the research Greg Mathias, who spent several years working in an Islamic country, offered three steps to engaging Muslims in your community.
Previous research on Islam: