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. Carla

    Analysis and summary: For the last 1,300 years, Muslims have been left alone in the darkness by the West. All failed to open them up for various reasons. This is the era where the whole world starts the real, serious and open interactions with Muslims for the first time in human history. This phenomenon is for the common Muslims, not for other worlds. Muslims must get educated and see the outside world and decide their fate. They need the Bibles to find out the truth and salvation. Already the Spirit of God is powerfully moving in the Islamic world. Secular West is only a corpse we are seeing.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • Tom

      Sorry but even spain had an Arabic ruling in place, your history knowledge needs some help.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:47 am |
  2. Telengard

    Historically, Christians have killed far more than Muslims. It's the Christians we should be concerned about.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • Carla

      Christians rescued mankind and made Europe civil and created North America. Without Christianity, Westerners are the worst kind of barbarians.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • Tom

      Ottoman Empire and the Turks for 1,000 please, read up on your history stupid.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • Telengard

      You read up on your history, stupid.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • Felix

      Sorry Carla but even the Disney movie Pocahontas disagrees with you. The truth is that out of salvation, civility, and barbarianism, these are all a matter of opinion. Christians had the tendency to back up their opinions with war and caused a considerable amount of damage to the, erm, western barbarians. Whether it was worth it is up for debate.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • annon22


      September 7, 2011 at 1:55 am |
    • Just Saying.

      The problem with your statement is that it is false. Yes, there are bad people who do bad things. The Spanish Inquisition was bad people doing bad things, but that is all it was. These people did what they did in spite of what the Christian doctrine teaches, not because of it. The Bible actually says "do not kill". In complete contrast the Islamic doctrine is replete with instructions for Muslims to kill people. Who, how, when where and why. In Islam every war is a holy war.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:04 am |
  3. Curt

    I don't wan't to hear "Islam, Christianity, Feemasons" you can all go suck each other off.... Religions can go to hell..

    I do believe in God though, do you really need a book to tell you how to live your life?

    September 7, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • Curt

      If you do need religion to live your life..... Well that is sad.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • Bob

      Both so called Christians and Islam, in fact, all religion has been the cause of many wars and troubles... could it be that there is just One God and one book, just like there is on Father and one set of standards, Hey, I researched religion for 4 years and then found the truth... these were the three questions I asked myself: If there is a God, would he support wars? What is the reason for so much suffering? if there is one group, it would make sense that they are a united group all over the world, who are they... something to ponder!

      September 7, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • annon22

      I will not go and suck anyone off tonight Curt. Religion is for people that need it. I don't get into it, but i understand its function even if it spawns sects that like to kill each other. it does some good for honest people who need it.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • SeekTheTRUTH

      People fight over religion because they don't understand their religion. They don't have complete knowledge and follow what they are told blindly.
      Just read the Bible yourself and you will know what God teaches in the Bible.
      Similarly, Read the Quran and you will know what God teaches in the Quran.
      Because you really want to understand their mentality of a particular religion, you have to read the actual sources, which the followers believe to be authentic; and the actual sources for the two religion are the Bible and the Quran.
      Don't follow the followers or others or believe a particular news channel, because they dont show the whole picture.
      Find out the Fact yourself.
      Read authentic Books yourself.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:00 am |
  4. jamal

    no i do not have no degree in islam i am a 18 year old i had nothing 2 do with religion what so ever yes i partyed until i was in hospitial i had no bondries until i started looking into religions non made real since but islam nd yes go look it up islam is the only religion that says there is no diffreence in men and women and again dont judge religion by people look at the scriptures dont look at some poor people and their actions and judge the religion by that

    September 7, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • Markos

      – A muslim can marry 4 women and divorce/remarry as he pleases.
      – The woman inherits half of the her male brother.
      – The wife cannot get her deceased husband money, only 25%. No will allowed.
      – In court, 2 women cannot be counted as wintnesses. Must be either 2 men, or 1 man and 2 women.

      And the list goes on and on

      September 7, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  5. Carla

    For the last 1,300 years, Muslims have been left alone in the darkness by the West. All failed to open them up for various reasons. This is the era where the whole world starts the real, serious and open interactions with Muslims for the first time in human history. This phenomenon is for the common Muslims, not for other worlds. Muslims must get educated and see the outside world and decide their fate. They need the Bibles to find out the truth and salvation. Already the Spirit of God is powerfully moving in the Islamic world. Secular West is only a corpse we are seeing.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • Just Saying.

      Islam has had numerous resurgences throughout history, all of them violent.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  6. Markos

    Quran (9:123) – "O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness."

    Quran (9:5) – "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them."

    September 7, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • SS

      NIce. Straight from the horses mouth (or to be more exact, its a ss 🙂

      September 7, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • ArtistLimited

      Deuteronomy 17:3
      (If there . . . among you) hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded. . .
      . . . then shalt though bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicket thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.

      It is safe to say that the Bible consists of as much crap as the Quarn does.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • Carla

      Most Americans deserve death by stoning but God had mercy on them.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • omar

      Markos,all you are doing is taking these verses out of context.the four verses that you mention are constantly used by people who hate islam to distort the true meaning.First of all , you need to post the entire chapter and it's interpretation to put it into context.You can't just take one verse out of a chapter with a couple of hundred verses and use it as proof that islam is a violent religion.The quran was revealed in small segments during the life of prophet muhammad and wasn;t revealed all at once.There is a long story to these verses which could require an entire page to tell.look it up.EVERY RELIGIOUS BOOK HAS TEXTS THAT CAN BE TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT.I am sure that if I look in the jewish torah,talmud or even the bible especially the old testament, i'll find many texts that I can take out of context .

      September 7, 2011 at 1:43 am |
    • Markos


      Jesus said, do not judge not to be judged.
      How could you judge me and others? Have you ever known me?
      May God forgive you.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  7. Markos

    Quran (3:151) – "Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority".

    Quran (2:191-193) – "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]... but if desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah."

    September 7, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • Carla

      Markos, such quotes are rather meaningless. You need to study the tree instead of a few leaves. It's true Muslims are intolerant and dangerous to non-Muslims. But they proved themselves to be far better than the secular Western hedonists as fellow human beings.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • Markos


      you might ask one of those nice people if your brother or son can date their daughter or sister.
      May be you need to take a trip to the middle east and see how Christians are being treated...
      May be you need to read books about the history of Islam. Check out being a non-muslim in a muslim country: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhimmi

      September 7, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  8. Hockeyn109

    I have read the Sharia Laws. It's totally alien to our concept of freedom, justice, and values. I don't fear Muslims, I don't respect them due to their discriminatory ways with women, their intolerance of people of other religions, and their disrespect of the culture of countries they immigrate to.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • Winston Vermilyea

      What you are describing sounds like a fundamentalist Christian. They wish us to take freedoms away from women, believe only what they say is true like the earth is only 6000 years old. Take away science and are intolerant of anyone who has views that oppose theirs. There is a reason that the founding fathers made religion separate from government. It was to make sure that government could not step in and discriminate against any religion and no religion dominated the government such as the Anglican church in England did or the Chathlic church in Spain and Italy did. An fundamentalist from any religion is a fundamentalist the only difference is the religion they subscribe to.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  9. jamal

    @ Mosihasteen i bet you hundred million go study the quran man and find every negative thing in quran you can possibly can do some more study with your byest mind and then gather all that nd then search it up y did god said those things in quran tell you what i dont have hundred million but i have my fath which is more worth than that if every negative thing in quran u find and you actully study further you will find y it is said by god and what is the reason and how it is possitive and i give you my word if you find 1 mistake or error in quran i will convert to what ever you follow man there you go wana take the challenge

    September 7, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • Just Saying.

      Visit faithfredom (dott) org. I dare you.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:21 am |
  10. 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"Quran2:62

    September 7, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  11. Khadijah

    Having been a Muslim once, I can see how Americans get misconceptions about Islam. After all the religion is in Arabic. And you can not just sit down and read the Qur'an like you can the bible. Having said that, the Muslims I knew were wonderful, lovers of God; peaceful in their ways and generous. The solution to this is with Muslims, because most Americans will not devote the time to find the truth.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • Just Saying.

      Is it any wonder that Arabs are the most vicious and barbaric Islamic terrorists?

      September 7, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  12. Just Saying.

    "I have built my organization upon fear" – AL CAPONE, American gangster and terrorist.

    "I have been made victorious with terror!" – PROPHET MUHAMMAD, Arab gangster and terrorist.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  13. SeekTheTRUTH

    God gave him freedom. He has learned he must not follow the footsteps of his father.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  14. Markos

    To add to the list:
    read about Cordoba http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordoba,_Andalusia
    Cordoba is the name of the proposed 911 mosque and symbolizes when muslims conquered the west (spain) in the middle ages.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  15. Buddha

    My invisible god > your invisible god?

    September 7, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • Glepe

      I'll see your invisible god and raise you a trump.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • flipside

      i think god is great, wise, and forgiving... whatever his name might be.
      I don't think he'd be bitter, angry, and resentful if somebody happens to be born to parents of a different religion. Just live a good life, be kind and honest, and how mad could any god be at you?

      September 7, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • amaathya


      September 7, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  16. Al

    I have nothing against religion. But I am against religious fanatacism, extreme interpretations of religious text, and people that use religion to gain power and control people.

    I think Muslims are by far the most incompatable with pretty much other society on earth. This isn't based on what news outlet I get information from. It's from personal observation. I'm gonna make some huge generalizations (I figure it's alright since it's ok to generalize whites and Americans - it should be a two way road) I've been to 5 predominantly Muslim countries (and actually interacted with the people quite a bit in a few of those countries) and know Muslims in the States. A few of the Muslim countries I've been to have been absolute crap holes, so that may have skewed my opinion a little bit, but I don't think I'm that off base. I think Muslim's, as a whole, are extremely ethnocentric (more so than most cultures), uneducated (not their fault due to the fact their religion is dominated by morons), and are the most whiny and vengeful (they hold grudges forever) group of people I've ever met.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:06 am |
    • Al

      Oh, and they're religious text promotes some pretty ridiculous shiznay.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • Al


      As do many other religions, but most people of other religions have learned to apply tolerance and common sense...

      September 7, 2011 at 1:12 am |
  17. Chris

    It is islamic tradition to marry your first cousin. 45% of muslims in the middle east marry their first cousins. This would explain the low IQ and high levels of genetic abnormality in the population. This would explain the barbaric way they treat women, other people, etc.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  18. Markos

    Anyone who sides with Islam, must do more reasearch and reading:
    – Read about how muslims deceived Ghandi to establish Pakistan.
    – Read about living as a non-muslim with muslims (Dhimmis) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhimmi
    – Read about the view of Islam of non-muslims (Kafir) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kafir
    – Islam does not have peace with non-muslims, just a truce until they can take over.
    – Ask a muslim co-woker or a neighbor if you can marry their sister or daughter...
    – Read about Christians in muslims countries: Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, etc.
    – Read about the history of Islam and what the muslims did to the Jews.
    And the list goes on and on. Muslims are in the US as part of the grand plot to take over with over breeding and anchor babies. Muslims have no loyalty to America.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:03 am |
    • Siva

      Pretty delusional huh! There are plenty of mixed marriages in India between Muslims and Hindus. I have plenty of Muslim colleagues with whom I get along very well. Most muslims in the US are very tolerant and are good people and are Americans!

      September 7, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • Markos

      Sive, your info is incorrect. A muslim man can marry a non-muslim. A non-muslim man cannot marry a muslim woman.
      This is the law of Islam. Ask any muslim.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Markos

      Right from the Imam (why cannot a non-muslim man marry a muslim woman):

      September 7, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  19. jon

    Duh. America was founded on Christian principles and law. Do any of us go to Saudi Arabia and try to change their way of life? Do we? Can we? Of course not.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:58 am |
    • ML

      In case you haven't noticed you can go to pretty much the most extreme places in Africa and find Christian missionaries. Christianity is pushed on people way more than Islam is.

      When is the last time Islam tried to pull something like that in the US? Never.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  20. SS

    Islam is garbage, in all fairness all religions are, but this one just reaks even worse. Read the Qur'an, meet up with some Muslims in your community and discuss their beliefs. And for the love of your imaginary friend, stop equating "Muslim" with brown skinned middle eastern people. There is no "racism" in critiquing a religion, no different than analyzing any ideology (politics, religion, etc.)

    September 7, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Glepe

      Don't forget those Greaks and their miths too.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • jon

      Greeks. Myths.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:58 am |
    • Glepe

      Sarchasm. Ireny.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:03 am |
    • Glepe

      Joan! Murtha!
      Murtha! Joan!

      September 7, 2011 at 1:04 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.