Evangelical Protestants received the highest percentage of unfavorable views from U.S. adults, according to a Pew Research Center report published March 15.
A plurality U.S. adults expressed a neutral view toward each of the seven faith traditions surveyed: Atheists (43% view them neither favorably nor unfavorably), Jews (43%), Muslims (42%), Mainline Protestants (39%), Mormons (39%) and Catholics (37%). At 29%, Evangelicals had the lowest number of neutral responses.
Jews received the highest level of affirmation, with 35% of respondents saying they held a very or somewhat favorable view. Catholics were the second highest rated faith tradition in the survey at 34% very / somewhat favorable, followed by mainline Protestants (30%), evangelical Christians (28%), Atheists (20%), Muslims (17%) and Mormons (15%).
A majority (60%) of born-again / evangelical Protestants expressed a very / somewhat favorable view of evangelical Christians. When their views are removed from the totals, only 18% of all other respondents expressed a very / somewhat favorable view of evangelical Christians.
Evangelical Christians received the highest percentage of unfavorable responses, with 27% of U.S. adults saying they held a very or somewhat unfavorable view. Mormons were second at 25% very / somewhat unfavorable, followed by Atheists (24%), Muslims (22%), Catholics (18%), mainline Protestants (10%) and Jews (6%).
Atheists had the highest percentage of very unfavorable responses (14%), followed by evangelical Christians (13%). No other faith group had above 10% in very unfavorable responses.
When asked to indicate if they knew anyone who was part of the faith traditions included in the survey, 88% said they knew someone who is Catholic, compared to atheists (71%), evangelical Christians (64%), Jews (64%), mainline Protestants (64%), Muslims (50%) and Mormons (43%).
Evangelical Christians had the highest very / somewhat unfavorable views (35%) among those who said they knew an evangelical Christian, and they had the second highest very / somewhat unfavorable views (29%) among those who said they did not.
Jews had the highest very / somewhat favorable views both among respondents who said they knew someone who was Jewish (42%) and among those who did not (21%).
“Across the board, those who know someone from a religious group (but are not members of that group themselves) are more likely than those who do not know someone in the group to offer an opinion of the group – and usually to express more positive feelings,” the report said.
The full report is available here. The topline results are available here. The overall margin of error is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.
Managing editor for news and opinion at Good Faith Media.