March 24th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

CNN Poll: Most Americans 'OK' with a mosque in their community

Editor's Note: CNN's Soledad O'Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. Soledad O'Brien Reports "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door", airing at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. E.T. April 2 on CNN.

By Debra Goldschmidt, CNN

Would you be "OK" with a mosque in your community?

According to a new national poll, most Americans say yes, they would.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday found that 69%of Americans would be "OK" with a mosque in their area while 28% would not.

But there are big differences depending on where you live. Half of rural Southerners say they disapprove of a mosque in their neighborhood, while 42 % say they would be "OK" with it.

That rises to roughly three-quarters among those who live in cities and suburbs.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, anti-mosque activity across the country, ranging from vandalism to lawsuits, has occurred in 21 states over the past five years.

Positive views of Muslim Americans are on the rise since 2002, according to the new poll, which found 46% of all Americans have a favorable view of American Muslims today, and 26% say they have an unfavorable view.

"Overall, positive views of American Muslims have risen since 2002, when memories of 9/11 were still fresh in most Americans' minds," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In 2002, as the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approached, only 39 percent of all Americans said they had a favorable view of Muslims."

Americans in the South and rural communities are far less likely to have a favorable view of American Muslims, with just 32% saying they hold such views.

Thirty seven percent of rural Southerners say they don't know enough to have an opinion.

When it comes to attitudes towards the Muslim faith itself, however, American opinions haven't changed much.

"In 2002, 28 percent of all Americans had a favorable view of Islam and 33 percent feel that way today," Holland says.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey was conducted March 11-13, with 1,023 people questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Houses of worship • Islam • Mosque • Polls

soundoff (174 Responses)
  1. Karen

    Not All Muslims are terrorist, but ALL terrorist seem to be Muslims. Muslims live next door to me & many members of their family live in my neighborhood. They are NOT pleasant neighbors, any of you who want them may have them with my blessing.
    I was very disappointed in your special, seems that it was made by, made for & paid for by the Muslim community. Why not talk a little about the Muslim next door that was arrested for plotting to blow up the NYC subway with his father. Did any of his neighbors even suspect he was a terrorist? Just because they pray 5x's/day does not tell me he or she is not a terrorist.
    There are some good and wonderful people out there that I welcome to MY country, but how do I tell them apart from the ones that want to destroy me & MY country. Muslim terrorists are the ones making life difficult for the majority of the Muslims in America. Once THEY rid themselves of the 'terrorist stigma', and put an end to terrorism, they will enjoy a wonderful accepting enviorment in America. At this point I have no respect for Muslims or their religion, that must be earned. No I do not support a Mosque in my area & most of all I strongly protest the Mosque they want to build in NYC, at ground zero. That is a slap in the face of America. It says I killed your people , destroyed you buildings and now I will take control of you & your country. Shame on you Mayor Bloomberg, you are NOT an AMERICAN. Before 9-11, I was not a prejudice person, now I am, I resent the people who have taken my safe, secure & peaceful life from me.

    March 28, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • Lisa

      Well said!!!

      March 29, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  2. Tom in CT.

    "It is certain that, in one point, all nations of the earth and all religions agree. All believe in a God, the things in which they disagree are the redundancies annexed to that belief; and therefore, if ever a universal religion should prevail, it will not be believing anything new, but in getting rid of redundancies, and believing as man believed at first. Adam, if ever there was such a man, was created a Deist; but in the mean time, let every man follow, as he a right to do, the religion and worship he prefers."

    – Thomas Paine, Age of Reason

    March 28, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  3. ijud

    It seems to me that all these people talking about God and religion are blaming the "other guy and his religion" because theirs is the only ONE. Every religion has its problems. Catholics don't allow women to be priest, does that mean they are unamerican? Baptist and Evangelicals believe that they need to go all over the world to convert anyone and everyone to their religion. Are they unamerican? Jews believe that Jesus was a prophet. Does that make them unamerican?
    Those are all religious beliefs they have nothing to do with weather someone is a good American or not. We have many Muslim American soldiers who are dying for this country as we speak. I believe that that is what makes a good American. That man and the Muslim family who supports him. It has nothing to do with religion. Muslims like everyone else in this country have a right and the freedom to worship, wethers it is a church, synagoge, mosque or any other house of worship.
    And all of those so called religious extremist need to read their own book and treat the Muslims the way that book tells them to. When people begin to live what they preach, only then will this be a more peaceful world.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  4. julia

    Muslims are muslims they never change,The extremist are muslims they believe of using violence to get to what they want no matter who they dealing with,im afraid they will make this country like middle east now in 20 years be aware, they only like their religion and no one elses,I lived with them for 17 years,never changes.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Donna

      Where did you live with who for 17 years. I beg to differ with you Julia, I am a Muslim and I come from a very diverse famliy, filled with all types of beliefs, pentiocostal, Baptist and even Catholasism. I love each and every one. We each have our belief but are able to respect each other for our differences and accept each other as God as loved and accepted us all. There is only one Creator and he created the entire human race. His love is ever abdundant and should be practiced more my his creation instead of trying to destroy each other with not only violence but words. God gave us a brain so lets start using it.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  5. josh

    i am 100% christian and this is sickening to me. in america the country of the free you have a right to religion speech and all of that. i think it shows the ignorance of many people that people are giving them such a hard time. i think of what blacks go through and i am not even surprised by this one bit, it is descrimination point black. if they were worshipping satan what difference does it make you dont have to agree.

    March 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Elias

      The American government fool the world at 9/11
      they planned in it as a part of their New World Order
      The government ais the real TERRORIST

      April 20, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  6. LoneZero

    Everything your talking about is outside the U.S. This is happening here, this is happening there but most importantly it's not happening in the U.S. and there is a reason for that. There extremist and radicals in those areas causing those conflicts and destruction. Not the general muslim faith. There are radical/extremist in all religions. It's not just muslims, everything your talking about are the actions of radical/extremist of the faith.

    March 28, 2011 at 12:49 am |
  7. icefalcon

    Allah means God? Then why were Chrisitans forced to change the word "allah" in Bibles in Indonesia? Because Indonesian Muslims–the most tolerant, moderate, peaceful Muslims on the planet–do NOT believe that Allah is God.

    Razzina, if you are a Muslim, in Indonesia you would be considered an enemy to the Prophet. The penalty for that in many Muslim countries is death, but in Indonesia your tolerant peaceful fellow Muslims might let you get off lightly with a public caning.

    March 27, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Saadi

      Allah is the one God of jews, christians and muslims. You have to remember that just because a country or people have certain rules, doesn't mean it is correct. Christian lebanese use Allah just like there fellow muslim country folk, both meaning the exact same thing. And Islam comes from the arabic word salam which is peace, so peace is the root.

      March 28, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • Obvious

      icefalcon, because missionaries try to convert people by confusing people, that's why. Allah does mean God, just google search "the camel method" and read all about it.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  8. Razzina Muhajir

    The response to the viewers that request musilms to go home .I am american so to that answer this is my home,Islam is a religion not a nationality,There are all sorts of people in every religion so take time to research before anyone form opinions.Allah meaning God does not like ugly and dosen't care about beauty we are born to care,love and protect each other.Not to hate,or destroy.One day and I pray it is sooner then later insha allah we will treat each other the way we want to be treated.In your words Greetings of Peace ASA

    March 27, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • Bethe123

      Razzina Muhajir

      If you think being born in America gives you the right to inflict the evils of Islam on America, you are saddly mistaken. Islam is a vile religion, if you can call it that. That actually is part of the problem– it is more like a cult. Really, the death penalty for changing your mind and no longer wanting to be a Muslim...About as un-American as it gets.

      March 28, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  9. Saadi

    Here it is for every one to know. Muslims are good people who believe in the same God as do Christians and as do Jews. The exact same God which is the God of Abraham which all major monotheisim relogions come from. There are only some slight differences in the stories but they are relatively the same. There are bad apples everywhere, such as hitler and napoleon bonaparte, the unibomber and osama bin dummy as well. Propaganda makes Islam look bad. Did you know that Jesus and Moses are mentioned many more times in the quran than Muhammed? Look at it this way. Judaism ended with Moses and the torah. Christianity continued the word of God with Jesus and the bible. Finally, Islam continued the SAME word, the SAME word, the SAME word through Mohammed and the Quran. The word being obey God, feed the hungry, be good to your neighbour, no to all sins and so on and so on. ISLAM means PEACE and there is no room in ISAM for terrorists. I just wish the two terms can one day be separated.

    March 27, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • icefalcon

      Islam means "submission". Peace results when everyone in the world submits to the religion of Mohammad. Until then there is a division between the House of War and the House of Submission–Dar al harb and Dar al Islam.

      The Western vision is that peace results from mutual respect and tolerance, and that one relgion NOT subjegate another.

      Every Muslim I know–and I know a lot of them–all admit that they would love to see Islam as the dominant religion for everyone.

      That's anti-Chrisitan, anti-Jewish, anti-Hindu...and worst of all, it's anti-American.

      March 27, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • Elias

      Most Americans missunderstand Islam because of western media's attack on Islam
      they dont even know what they are talking about

      April 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  10. Mucy

    Didn’t Jesus say “Love your enemy”

    March 27, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  11. altrc

    Would you be "OK" with a mosque in your community? No, nor would I want a Mega Church, Buddhist Temple, Mandir, Synagogue, Gurdwara, etc. Unless they were already there before, Of which I wouldn't of moved their in the first place. Does thist mean I hate these religions or people? Absolutely not! People have the right to believe what they want and worship where they want. Building a large facility of anything near my community I would object to, that's why I live where I live.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  12. LoneZero

    I understand what you mean =) I looked into the same thing too! At first it did seem arrogant and disrespectful, I looked into it, I wanted to know how close? Is it directly on ground zero? Who was paying for? What was the purpose?

    from my searching I found that it's a Islamic community center and mosque dubbed Park51 – would be two blocks north of ground zero so not directly on it and not that close too it either. Actually there is a full-fledge Mosque operating almost on ground zero that was there before the attacks and still is today. It's not that big of a deal from what I've gathered since it also welcomes non-muslims into the building it is community center too and would be good for the neighborhood. Also from my findings we do live in an open market. These people paid for the property, thus they are allowed to use it anyway they seem fit. Nothing illegal was used to gain the land it was bought legally.

    There are an estimated 800,000 to 1,400,000 American Muslims living in New York today maybe more and they should be able to build a mosque where they live. I understand fully the idea of building a mosque directly on ground zero and the misconceptions that come with it. We should have a memorial there by now why it's taken almost 10 years I don't know.

    I'm sorry if I came out rude or as attacking you, I did not mean for that and i'm enjoying this civil conversation were having on issue it's a very thin line issue

    March 27, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • Mucy

      Well said, I’ve realized this is an extremely emotional issue for all; it is a very thin line issue! I’m trying to understand it from both sides now. We have to stop the Hate on both sides and come together as human-beings and at least cool off our emotions and look at it from another angle. Peace.

      March 27, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  13. Key

    Soledad O'Brien good job. That young girl was awesome I urge everyone to help them build the mosque please donate.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  14. Megan

    I am watching the special right now on CNN. I am so very upset with the things that I am hearing, especially during the hearings. How can a group of people be so very ignorant? I, myself, am not Muslim, but I would never take that opportunity away from someone. By all means build a place of worship and spread the word that Muslims are not out to get America. Culture and religion are not the same thing. This literally brought a tear to my eye. I feel like I can't do anything except be open to people everywhere and hope that people will do the same.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Megan

      Also, the "American Way of Life" should not coincide with "the CHRISTIAN way of life".

      March 27, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Bethe123


      Please learn something about Islam...you sound really ignorant.

      Try "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali for starters.

      March 28, 2011 at 12:33 am |
  15. LoneZero

    There is such a thing as American Muslim infidels, those extremist don't care, on 9/11 Muslims were killed too no one spared in that attack, American Muslims also helpled people that day out, they were fireman, police, ambulance and civilian do what they can. Why wouldn't it be okay for American Muslims building mosque like everyone else? Extremist in any religion don't care about anyone if they don't believe exactly what they do that's why there extremist and terrorist and there lies the problem. Radical extremist in all religions should be acknowleged, focused, and combated against. Blaming just one in this case Muslim doesn't solve a thing and leads to hate, fear, and violence. That is no way to treat fellow Americans.

    March 27, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Muncy

      I just re-educated myself on the word “infidel” (what an eye-opener). All I’m saying is that if I were a practicing Muslim, Ground Zero would be the last place I would want to go and worship anyway. Its one thing if there was already a mosque there before the 9/11 attack and it was destroyed, rebuilding I would understand, but building a new mosque where such tragedy took place I don’t understand. I just find it arrogant and disrespectful.

      March 27, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  16. LoneZero

    @Muncy why would American Muslims wanna build a mosque outside of their own country? The ones building these mosque are born and raised here in the U.S. and it is in their right to build a place a worship just like any other religion. I have no problem with that that, if my community already have Christian, Catholic, and even Scientology church why not Muslim too? We do live in America right? A land with the rights no place else has like freedom of religion.

    March 27, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Muncy

      I didn’t know American Muslims were infidels too? My bad.

      March 27, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  17. Muncy

    Let us infidels’ build a church, temple, house of worship, wal-mart, etc. outside the walls of Mecca and I have no problem with you building a Mosque near Ground Zero. Hell, it can be anywhere in Saudi Arabia.

    March 27, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Georgenakhla

      I agree with Muncy. All those mollahs they immigrated from different Arab countries they are members of the mozlem brotherhood the same members of elqaedah thos are the same mollahs they are distroying the churchs of the Coptic Orthodox Christians and the mozlem extreemest kiddnaped last year about 70 young girls they beet them and rabbed them. and they tried to convert them inti Islam

      March 28, 2011 at 4:44 am |
    • uragoner

      CNN isn't going to report on the unfairness of Islam in other lands. Clearly, these enlightened reporters haven't bothered reading the Quran and it's exclusiveness of hate that is written throughout it pages.... even after 911 and numerous wars and solitary attacks since.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  18. REG in AZ

    I don't know a whole lot about Islam but much of what I have seen has the tendency to be scary and just alienate. Not only with the radicals and the terrorists, although that is very significant, but also in things like how they don't want to translate the Qur'an into any other language from Arabic. There is just a lot of effort to avoid being open and to instead be isolated. Then there is their actually condoning violence, their treating women as inferior and other actions which seem in drastic contrast to our values. So much of what Islam presents seems to be about rigid control, about controlling their people and having them just blindly follow. Now maybe there is merit in having people be extremely religious but I suspect that with the complete control they demand it easily leads to real abuse and, consistent with much of what has already been seen, that can just be totally scary (especially when observing their aggressive recruiting and political agendas). There is considerable said about Islam being a peaceful and compassionate religion but while we don’t want to ever condemn a whole religion, we also really need to see actions that support those professed qualities, because so far the words have been mostly empty.

    March 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Georgenakhla

      I agree with you.Just to let you know that Osama the moslem mollah of Tenassi Immigrated from Egypt he is a member of Moslembrotherhood the sam as Aiman el-Zawahiry person #2 in El qaedah.so they will build a 15 aeqar mosq this is on the out side picture but in the inside it will be Elqaedah training camp. This Egyptian mollah in Tnasse his fellow mollahs in Egypt they destroy a church dowen to the ground. and in new year's eve 2010 they killed 25 and badly engerd 113 Christian warshiper were geting out of the church. We the American people must stop the building of the mosq in Tenasse.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:15 am |
  19. omar


    March 27, 2011 at 3:19 am |
    • Native American

      It belongs to MY people. We Native Americans say to Muslims "If you don't like and respect our laws and other religions than GO HOME."

      March 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • John Glenn

      Ha!, Im sure your a real "Native American", you can be whatever you want online. Muslims are welcome, no one has the right to tell them to go back where they came from, unless they are ready to join them in leaving...

      Coming from a REAL BLACKFOOT INDIAN!!!

      not an online wannabe

      March 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • rs1201

      I don't know where CNN gets its statistics. It seems to me that every time the building of a mosque is even suggested, thousands of protests against it are organized and muslims know that. Soledad Obrien white washed the presence of muslims in America and made it look as if they were victims...they're not. If they're not criminals personally, then they certainly support and finance the criminals and terrorists amongst them. They get funding from obscure sources and refuse to reveal them. Why do you think that's the case? what are they ashamed of or even worried about? They present "a clear and present danger" to America and Americans and they're not welcome here. They're belligerent and justify terrorism at every turn just like the imam in NYC of the proposed mosque at ground zero...he said 9/11 was justified given America's policy in the Middle East. Traitors like that we don't need and we don't want in our country.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  20. omar

    i dont think is good to generalized all Muslims, Islam is a great religion that dont support any if these violent you see from these brainwashed Muslims. please take sometime and get to know Islam. may ALLAH BLESS YOU ALL AMEEN.

    March 27, 2011 at 3:07 am |
    • Operation:OdysseyDawn

      i think that most muslims are great people,a few of my good friends are muslim,but in general, like christians, most dont read their holy book (The Quran and the Hadith in their entirety) or follow the rules religiously
      because if they did, i doubt they would be muslim because the Quran does condone killing and violence

      "and slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution of muslims is worse than slaughter of non-believers"
      Quran 2:191-193

      "...The Prophet said, ' if somebody (a muslim) discards his religion, kill him"
      bukhari 52:206

      and there are hundreds more verses just like this

      most are afriad to say this because they think its "anti-islam" but its just the facts

      even though the religion does condone violent acts, this does not excuse the behavior of christians. for Jesus himself said

      "Jesus replied 'Love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and with all your mind. this is the first and greatest commandment. and the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments"
      matthew 22:37-40
      if christians obeyed the first commandment, then the second wouldnt even be a problem and we wouldnt be having this conversation because there would be no show about the negitive veiws most christians have against muslims

      the muslims should be allowed to have their mosque, and if christians have issues, then they should loving convert them, tell them Jesus is the only way and he died for their sin

      March 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • sahsan

      I'm a regular reader of Quran and Hadith but what I found in it is totally different than what you are quoting or what media is portraying. If some group of extremists are hijacking name of Islam for their ill cause, Islam should not be blamed for this. There are more than 1 Billion Muslims in the world and all of them are peace loving. Actually word Islam's literal meaning itslef is Peace. Then we use word Imaan, that is a higher degree of Mujslims. That also means peace. We don't even consider these terrorists as Muslims, they have just hijacked the name of Islam. I wish you could have seen several hundred verses in Quran and Hadith that promote nothing but peace and love. Also I wish you could have read the life history of Prophet (PBUH) and his companions, and many after them who have been our leaders and witnessed how peaceful and loving their way of life have had been. I am just quoting few things from Quran and Hadith for now but I can refer to few books that are available to purhcase online and you can read them yourself and see several references from Quran and Hadith that can show you the real picture of Islam. Quran says (5:32) "..if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole humanity: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the whole humanity". And Prophet (PBUH) says (Bukhari, 19:1,) The best among Muslims is that person whose hands and tongue should not harm other people". Just search for "Muslims book of morals and manners" that is a collection of sayings of Prophet as collected bhy Imam Bukhari. Its a several hundred paged book and anyone just heard about Islam from media will start crying after reading this book on finding what Islam really is and what media is portraying. Also search for book "Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings", (it's available on Amazon.com) it consists of nothing but text from Quran and Hadith as compiled by Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri and it shows how much Islam is against terrorism and extremism.

      March 28, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Bethe123

      Try telling that to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

      Oh, that's right...you won't be able to find her, shes had to go into hiding.

      In any event, the facts do not support what you claim.

      March 28, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Georgenakhla

      Any one reads the quraan his brain will get washed with terrorisme quraan mentioned who ever was mozlem and convert to any other religion must be killed) and ( on the mozlemes to kill the none mozlemes they have to pay the fees in Arabic: gizyah) and I will proaf to you and to the world all mozlemes are the every day terrorests since mohamed untill today. Mohamed start killing Koraysh trayps in bloody wars. The Arminians got maseqerd by the turkish 50 years ago. Omer you and all mozlemes should be ashamed of quraan

      March 28, 2011 at 3:45 am |
    • Operation:OdysseyDawn


      dispite the fact that your claims are not reality (american muslism are mostly people of good morals, but muslims in the middle east are not, they kill women for commiting adultery, not cuz they like too(even tho they may), but cuz the quran tells them too )

      i dont get it, how can one part of the quran say "love and peace to others" and another say "death to others", kinda seems contradictory.
      how can it say both good and evil? can fresh water be both salty and fresh at the same time? no it can not. its either one or the other. if you believe in a deity known as you honestly cant take just parts of what his prophet said, its more of an all or nothing deal

      but even if there is a hundred thousand verses of peace and love, and only ten about killing of others, then you kinda have to obey all of them, i know, it sucks. one rotten apple ruins the whole bunch. but a good apple doesnt make the rotten apples good. in the same way the verses on peace and love dont make the verses on killing less evil

      ever thought about Jesus Christ as being the way, the only means of salvation?

      April 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.