Call it an unhappy accident. When University of Minnesota researchers set out to discover how Americans feel about Atheists and othet non-believers, they discovered something that perhaps comes as no surprise in a post-9/11 world: There are many people in the United States who do not like Muslims.
For “Atheists and Other Cultural Outsiders: Moral Boundaries and the Non-Religious in the United States,” the researchers compared data from the university’s 2003 American Mosaic Project and the 2014 Boundaries in the American Mosaic Survey. Taken together, the surveys offer insight into the evolution of how American adults feel about various religious and ethnic groups.
While disdain for non-believers increased incrementally, researchers were surprised to learn that negative feelings toward Muslims climbed dramatically. When given the prompt “this group does not at all agree with my vision of American society,” respondents were most likely to choose Muslims (45.5 percent), followed by Atheists (41.9 percent), “homosexuals” (29.4 percent) and Conservative Christians (26.6 percent). Each of these percentages grew from 2003 to 2014, with Muslims jumping from 26.3 percent.
When asked who they would disapprove of marrying their child, Muslims topped the list again (48.9 percent). Atheists were next at 43.7 percent, African Americans clocked in at 23.2 percent, and Jews (17.8 percent) beat out Conservative Christians (17.2 percent), “Hispanics” (12.6 percent) and people who identify as “spiritual, but not religious” (13.7 percent).
Other key findings:
- Respondents pegged Muslims as being intolerant (28.9 percent) and threats to public safety (22.1 percent).
- They feel that recent immigrants are looking to take jobs and resources (19.9 percent).
- Respondents also associated Black Americans with being dependent on welfare (34 percent).
- They think Muslims do not share American morals or values (29.6 percent).
Read the full study here.