A survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center released 12/15/15 found that a large majority of white evangelical Protestants, as well as smaller majorities of older Americans and those with less education, said Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers.
Overall, Americans split evenly on the question of whether Islam is more likely to encourage violence than other religions, with 46% saying it is more likely to do so and 45% saying it was not, the Pew poll found. That close division has been constant for most of the last decade in Pew polls.
But the partisan divide on the issue has grown since George W. Bush was President, when those who identified with one of the two parties largely agreed on the issue.
Today, among Republicans, 68% call Islam more violent, Pew found, while among Democrats, only 30% did. Among people who identified themselves as conservative Republicans, 77% called Islam violent, while among self-identified liberal Democrats, 73% said it was no more violent than other religions.
Even among Americans younger than 30, about one-third say Islam is more likely to encourage violence, while among Americans older than 65, more than half do, Pew found. That is the bad news for Muslims.
But the good news is that a poll by the Washington Post and ABC News released a day prior (12/14/15) to the Pew report; which also asked whether Americans think Islam encourages violence, got very different results because the question was worded differently than the one in the Pew poll.
This poll found that only 28% of Americans thought that “mainstream Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims” while 54% called it a “peaceful religion”.
It is hard to feel that a poll that finds that only 54% of Americans call mainstream Islam a peaceful religion is good news for Muslims.
Why is nationalist terrorism by Chechens and Palestinians who are Muslims, called Islamic terrorism; when no one called decades of sectarian terrorism in Ireland “Christian terrorism”?
Why blame Islam for the disgusting acts of those terrorists who just invoke Islam to justify their dastardly acts of mass murder and mayhem?
One reason is that Christians have long forgotten the 17th century, 30 year war of Catholics and Protestants, in the German lands; where almost one third of the population was massacred.
Nor do they realize that it was a call from the Pope to conquer the Holy Land that started more than a century of holy wars by the Crusaders.
Islam is not more violent than medieval Christianity or biblical Judaism, or some ultra-nationalist rabbis in Israel today. But the wide spread separation of church and state that is normal in Europe and North America has not yet become the rule in Muslim lands, or in Israel today.
Until religion is fully depoliticized, and somewhat privatized, as it is in the U.S.A., political movements will use religion to both motivate violent acts.
As Pascal, a 17th century French philosopher proclaimed, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”