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Poll: Many Americans uncomfortable with Muslims
A new survey finds many Americans are uncomfortable with Muslims.
September 6th, 2011
03:29 PM ET

Poll: Many Americans uncomfortable with Muslims

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - Ten years after 9/11, Americans are wrestling with their opinions of Muslims, a new survey found, and where Americans get their TV news is playing a role in those opinions.

Nearly half of Americans would be uncomfortable with a woman wearing a burqa, a mosque being built in their neighborhood or Muslim men praying at an airport.   Forty-one percent would be uncomfortable if a teacher at the elementary school in their community were Muslim.

Forty-seven percent of survey respondents said the values of Islam are at odds with American values.

The Public Religion Research Institute conducted the survey and issued a report in conjunction with the Brookings Institution, "What it Means to be American: Attitudes in an Increasingly Diverse America 10 Years after 9/11."

“Americans are wrestling with fear, but on the other hand they're also wrestling with acceptance,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute.

The results of the survey were announced Tuesday at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

One issue that seemed to divide respondents was sharia law.

Overall, 61% of respondents disagreed that Muslims want to establish sharia law in the U.S.

"2011 has been an enormously active year for this question," Jones said. "Forty-nine bills have been introduced in 29 states to ban sharia law. We asked the same question back in February, and only 23% of Americans agreed Muslims want to establish sharia as the law of the land. That number has gone up to 30%, so still a minority, but the minority has grown."

The numbers were also showed a correlation with where people went for their news.

Of Americans who say they trust Fox News the most for their television news, 52% believe that Muslims are trying to establish sharia law in the United States. Sixty-eight percent of Fox viewers believed the values of Islam were at odds with American values.

The report says fewer than one-third of Americans who most trust broadcast news, CNN (20%) and public television (23%) believe that Muslims are trying to establish sharia.

"It's an emotional roller coaster," said Dr. Muqtedar Khan, a professor of political science at the University of Delaware.  "I looked at this survey, and I'm really depressed."

Khan, a practicing Muslim, was particularly disturbed by the attitudes toward Muslims and what he called a misunderstanding of sharia law. "Sharia is just a prop, an attempt to say, 'we just don't know and like Muslims.' "

The survey also found strong support of religious liberty and tolerance.

Eighty-eight percent of those contacted by pollsters agreed that "America was founded on the idea of religious freedom for everyone, including religious groups that are unpopular."

One year after a Florida pastor burned a copy of the Quran, 95% of people polled said religious books should be treated with respect.

And two-thirds of those polled said there should be strict separation between church and state.

According to Jones, 2,450 Americans were reached by phone for the survey, and it had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 9/11 • Belief • Islam • Sharia • United States

soundoff (1,019 Responses)
  1. Soar Addie

    Let us be free to be religious and be free not to be religious. I know religions are all bad for people because religious leaders are always trying to get other people to believe in what they believe. But I don't care if anybody want to be religious as long as they don't try to make me believe in what they believe. Please keep your believe to yourself. Religion is something embarrasing like being naked. As one would not be naked in public, don't show your religion to public.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  2. laila

    Sharia law isn't even practiced in most Islamic countries now....some group or groups are doing good job at scaring Americans..lol so stupid people actually believe these things..3% of America population are Muslims and people are living in fear of them changing American values..lol if anyone should fear it should be the Muslims for losing their children to american cultures and values

    September 7, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • DK

      Not sure what muslim countries your talking about, but culturally most of them do have sharia law in one form or another, which is why most of them consider christians second class citizens & if they ever step out of line by offending muslims there will be rioting and murder of christian families.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • laila

      "Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve" Quran 2:62

      September 7, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • Peter H.

      Liar... Of course it is, are you really drinking the kool-aid??? Better wake up there kiddo !!!

      September 7, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • Mosihasteen

      With the exception of Turkey, show me one Muslim country that has a Muslim government where Shariah is NOT practiced.

      The fear of Shariah taking hold in the US exists because the threat is very real.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • laila

      bc I am a Muslim myself and all the Muslims that I know don't follow sharia law

      September 7, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • Tony

      You posted Quran 2:62 which says Christians and Jews who believe in the lord shall enter heaven and so on, that was when Mohammed was trying to fool Jews and Christians to follow him as a prophet when they refused you know then Mohammed starting giving other verses where he attacked and cursed them to hell, this is how you know the Quran is nothing more then words of ONE MAN AND NOT OF ANY GOD, after all Mohammed began his new religion in a cave when he said some spirit choked him home told his wive and she seeing dollar signs tellls Mohammed you aree a great men lol you must be a prophet, and the con game began from there, Mohammed thought he was possed bythe spirit, by the way which was unnamed, and 13 years later Mohammed would call the spirit Gaberial lol copied from the Bible.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:36 am |
  3. Huh

    Two "religious" systems threatening human life on this planet: Catholicism and Islam... one "religion," different names. Both want to take away our freedom on conscience.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • Soar Addie

      Excellent!

      September 7, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Mosihasteen

      Bad comment. The two beliefs are not even inthe same ball park. One gives you freedom to leave, the other doesn't. One preaches peace, the other war on all who are different. One forgives adulterers, the other has them killed on the spot. One hates all who are different because it is the 'Will of Allah" the other says love your enemies and pray for them that persecute you" Are we starting to see a pattern? Dumb comment

      September 7, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Kyle

      Huh is actually spot on. Both religions teach trash from practically the same contradictory books. Both are full of ritual, both are full of violence, and both are extremely intolerant. Both books teach that men are above women.

      I could go on for a decade.

      Mosi, you should revise that "dumb comment" part, because you aren't looking very bright here.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:42 am |
  4. sergentpeppa

    The moslems are a arrogant lot. Why did they have to build a mosque at ground zero? Several alternate plots were made available and they could have moved the construction as a nice gesture and out of respect for the fallen but no they must have their way. Funny that they don't understand why people dislike them.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Mohammed

      1- there is no such thing as Moslem, Its Muslim, at least try to pretend you have intelligence.
      2- Its not a mosque, its a community center, idiots who have no idea what they are talking about for some reason cant get passed the mosque thing. Its a community center, it has a prayer room. I dont know of any mosque that has a swimming pool. The mosque in Macca, which is an actual mosque and a lot bigger, doesnt have a swimming pool for god sake.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • Lindsay

      PLEASE !!! Don't display ignorance. I am NOT a muslim, but I do my research. They did NOT build a mosque at Ground Zero....it is about 3 blocks away and in an area that is not part of the Ground Zero complex that is going up. AND- it is a community center with daycare, community exercise facilities, and many other things. Watch the 60 Minutes program on it if you don't believe me- if you want to be more informed. I am a high school teacher and it is so disheartening to hear my students parroting inaccurate opinions- I encourage them to bring in diverse opinions, but I insist that it must be based in reality and fact.....to see adults who can't be bothered to do that makes my job even harder.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • eli

      @mohammed "moslem" is an acceptable term. since arabic is often written without vowels, the root word is mslm–which can be written muslim or moslem or some combination of them. "muslim" is just the most common spelling.

      and the "community center" was billed as a mosque before everyone started freaking out over it. it is a mosque. there are other things in the building, but the mosque is sort of the point of it.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  5. "He's Dead Jim."

    I think the current pope looks gay and dresses up in outfits which accentuate his gayness.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Muslim

      Islam is the only pure montheistic religion in the world. All other religions are based on corrupted and illogical conclusions. The followers of truth have always been targeted and framed. This is nothing new for true believers. ALLAH always test them and put them through hard times. As they say, "BRING IT ON"

      September 7, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • eli

      @muslim

      i think you made a typo. you probably meant to write that "All religions are based on corrupted and illogical conclusions", which is a true statement.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  6. "He's Dead Jim."

    Steven Hawking has it right. God does not exist. This is all just mankind's lousy attempt to control us and/or to make us feel better about all of our eventual deaths.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:06 am |
  7. Debasis

    Christianity preached by retard pastors is also at odds with true American values. But the redneck population won't understand.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • eli

      ...the country was founded by pastors preaching "retarded values". the puritans were real sticks in the mud, religiously speaking. that's why it always confuses me when people say "the country was founded on religious freedom!". uh, no. it was founded by people who were so insufferable that no one could tolerate living with them anymore, and so they were sent to go colonize the new world. even if you flash forward 100 years, to the nation's independence, you were still s*** out of luck if you weren't a WASP.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Kyle

      It was founded by slave owners.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  8. mike johnson

    I have worked with muslims all over the world ... and we are just different ... I have met many highly educated muslims with very radical views, much more so than what you find on the US side, even though it exists here too. And quite simply, I don't trust them ... even less than I trust the US government. I believe that Islam is today where Christianity was 600 years ago. Let them eat sand.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  9. Mythyx

    We fear Islam because it goes against Human Rights. Foeget all teh other religious claptrap.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • LKJ

      Islam does not go against human rights, not at all. You must be making that statement based on what you see on the news. Don't you know that the news primarily reports what is bad? Even Will Rogers said, Never trust what you read in the paper.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • eli

      @LKJ in the west, we tend to consider things like chopping off people's hands for robbery, forcing non-believers to pay special taxes, etc violations of human rights. i understand that most muslims consider this divine justice, but... you know.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • Kyle

      LKJ, must I reiterate that KORAN 4:3 specifically states that women are to be beat when they are disobedient?

      Yeah. islam sure is a peace-loving religion that is in line with human rights!

      September 7, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • Stevie7

      @Kyle,

      The bible commands parents to stone disobedient children, so do you think the bible is as equally against human rights as the bible, or do you just cherry pick verses to suit your own agenda?

      September 7, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Lindsay

      Not to be a brat....but you are kind of missing a MAJOR point. There are extremists in all religions. Period. The Christian extremists have been responsible for atrocities just like the Muslim ones....just because they get all the press and media, it is ignorant and simplistic to group them all together. It makes educated Americans look like the minority when we make blanket statements about 'them.'

      September 7, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • Kyle

      Stevie, the bible also says that men are allowed to forced themselves upon women, as long as they pay them money and marry them. The bible also states that people involved in same-gender unions are to be put to death.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • Kyle

      By the way Stevie, you might want to read my other comments before spewing that "your own agenda" crap. I'm far more intelligent than that. You sound like a conspiracy theorist talking like that.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  10. Josh

    Sharia law here? would never happen, ever. Do I hate muslims? No because not all of them preach the hate islam does but adapt it in a more pratical and understanding way. Do I hate islam? Partially, because of some of what it preaches and the type of person who founded the religion.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • LKJ

      Guess what, Josh. I have been practicing shari'ah here in the U.S. for the last 32 years. I married Islamically, raised my children Islamically, dressed Islamically, ate Islamically. Did it affect you? I don't think so.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • Kyle

      LKJ, uh, 9/11.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  11. wildcats

    Don richardson is an idiot

    September 7, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  12. eli

    i have no idea how one could say that islam and western values are NOT incompatible. they simply are. where islam tells you to zig, "western values" tell you to zag. it's not about prejudice–it's about reality. i daresay that people living in muslim countries would agree with that statement as well.

    also, for the last time–the burqa has absolutely nothing to do with islam. it really, really does not. it is a modern invention that is rarely seen outside of the foothills of afghanistan, designed solely to make women invisible.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • Lindsay

      Thanks for pointing out the obvious and being a voice for reason.....I am pretty sure the Koran doesn't use or advocate the term 'burqa.' Again- the extremists make the press and the moderates, the mainstream, the logical and rational people don't get their voices heard.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  13. "He's Dead Jim."

    Religion is mind control. Hoffa on the other hand is not much of an inspiring speaker. I watched his rant about the tea bags and pubs. The crowd in the background might have been more awake if they were asleep. If hoffa must criticize the politicians, he should be thorough and give em all their verbal come uppins, and yes that should include the crats.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  14. jane

    We are all supposed to fight Islamaphobia and get out and protest Pastor Jones and Pamaela Gellar. When Louis Farrakhan speaks we are supposed to respect freedom of speech. If Farrakhan were a white Christian or Jew talking about Muslims or blacks in the way he talks about Jews, whites, gays- he would be shut down by anti-racist protestors. As it is, Tavis Smiley, NAACP, and prominent black politicians openly promote and associate with Farrakhan. Anyone doing the same with Pastor Jones or David Duke would have their career ruined.

    September 6, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  15. laila

    the poll is expected from those who watches fox news and their only source of information. Most average Americans don't know anything Muslims and Islam...they can't point Afghanistan on a world map, they are more concern about the kardashians..lolbusy watching Monday night football or worry about which club to spend their Friday night...and yet quick to judge Muslims based on the fear they fed from Tv...I am not here to judge but since we are on this conversation if u wana fear anyone u should fear ur own government...throughout history America has killed more people than all the Muslim nations combined, the only nation on earth who actually used WMD on people, the only nation who has been involved in every single war in history....Muslims don't hate America...both Muslims and non Muslims all over the world hate America forign policy and their bully double standards toward other nations...it is all over power, money and politics..religion play very little.

    September 6, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Kyle

      The US has been involved in every single war in history? That is bloody amazing! I'd like you to explain that one to me. I mean, after all, the country has been around for less than 300 years. I'm fairly certain wars existed prior to that. Oh, and islam was around before the US was established as well.

      Please, explain.

      I await your grammatically correct and beautiful response.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • eli

      america has not been involved in "every single war in history" and it certainly hasn't killed more people than "all muslim countries combined".

      September 7, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • laila

      don't some research u ll be surprised.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Lindsay

      I think a better question would be – where did you do your research? What are your sources? That is a big statement. I am a historian with a Masters degree and I would love to know the veracity of your information. I am not saying that Americans haven't done atrocious acts- they have. The nuclear bombs are an example. However, you weaken your statement by showing that you are only measuring 'history' by the span of the United States.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • Kyle

      laila. EVERY WAR IN HISTORY? The US hasn't been around for more than a few hundred years. Mankind has been at war for thousands of years.

      What research? Seriously. Are you trolling right now?

      September 7, 2011 at 12:31 am |
  16. mohammedfondledme

    islam is garbage. a relic of the dark ages. complete trash.

    September 6, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • dsavio

      religion is a relic of the dark ages, not just islam

      September 7, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  17. Mark Ayres

    The US has reached the end of its role as the great beacon to the rest of the World. It is unable to be open enough to accommodate one more diverse set of humanity. All I hear is excuses: Example, cherry picking the Koran for the most extreme statements and then presenting those out of context. You could just as easily find a similar extreme statment if you cherry picked the Bible.

    Bottom line. The educational level of the US population is not keeping up to the level that it needs to so that we are an open, enlightened and welcoming people. We are becoming far to close minded. Half the population believes that the earth was created within the last 10000 years. Another casuality of our lack of enlightenment is is showing up in our trade deficit. All we have is excuses. The rest of the world is out-competing us because they are out-educating us.

    In the past we could afford the close-mindedness that declared war on immigrants such as the Irish and Italians. It took several generations for those anti-intellectual strains to play themselves out as the foolishness that they were. It was only because the rest of the world was even more backward than we were that we were able to rise above them in the end. Now however the rest of the world is embracing logic and science and we are shunning it. The US is becoming dominated by anti-intellectuals that believe math and science are matters of personal opinions. With such a low level of intellect its no wonder that we can't accommodate more diversity. We have reached the end of our journey as the most enlightened nation on earth.

    September 6, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • Realist

      Apparently some Americans have become irrational drama queens too.

      September 6, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • LKJ

      Very well said.

      September 6, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Malacoda

      Who and what are not being accommodated? The mosque in my town is fine. I know many Muslims and I've yet to see their houses burned down. They seem to have well paying jobs and lots of friends. People are not required to like Islam. It is a free country. You can hate anything you want, you just cant break the law.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • Rana

      I met several people in SC who believe that world was created 10,000 years ago. One of them was an "engineer".

      September 7, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • eli

      and you believe that prior to this moment, america was a welcoming and tolerant society...? you people confuse me. you know so little of our nation's history. america is a more tolerant and diverse nation now than it has ever been... not that it's really doing the country any good, to be honest.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • Kinmon Matsui

      "The US has reached the end of its role as the great beacon to the rest of the World."
      Has reached the END?
      Mark! Study your history! What about the Chinese in California? Or black people in Mississippi? People were mistreated worse in history

      September 7, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  18. City On a Shining Hill

    Only Christ, the true world Savior, can bring lasting peace and joy in an individual's life, that religious adherence by all other world faiths and philosophies can never bring about.

    "I have come, to give you life, and give it more abudantly"- Jesus, in the Gospels.

    September 6, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Kyle

      Jesus also said he'd return almost 2000 years ago. If you want to quote him, look it up. He said he'd return within the generation of his followers at the time. He said people living then would not see death before his return. He lied. He didn't come back. He isn't coming back.

      September 6, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  19. Jinn te Kafir

    We only need to concern ourselves with those who follow the teachings of Muhammad.

    September 6, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  20. Robin Bray

    Any of you people with "American Values" remember the shooting down of Iran flight 655? It was a civilian jet airliner shot down by U.S. missiles on 3 July 1988, over the Strait of Hormuz It was destroyed by the U.S. Navy's guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes, killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard, including 66 children, ranking it ninth among the deadliest disasters in aviation history God Bless America, land of hypocrites!

    September 6, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Malacoda

      Accident. oops

      September 6, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • Kyle

      Yes. Because the entire country was behind that incident.

      Good thinking.

      Any more insightful comments?

      September 6, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • Cardiac50

      Yes.. I remember it.. do you remember the reasons surrounding the accident in the first place?.. do you really believe they just simply shot down a civilian airliner for the fun of it?.. really? If they really wanted to give that sort of lesson, they could have dropped a few FAE's in the middle of Tehran to greater effect.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:02 am |
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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.