Monthly Religion News Surveys Print

Survey | Majority Say Congressional Hearings on Alleged Extremism in American Muslim Community ‘Good Idea’

[02.16.2011]

But 7-IN-10 Say Congress Should Not Single Out American Muslim Community

Read the news release here.
Read the RNS story here.
Read the Questionnaire, Topline Results and Survey Methodology here.

The February PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey, conducted in partnership with Religion News Service, finds:

VIEWS ON CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS INVESTIGATING ALLEGED EXTREMISM IN AMERICAN MUSLIM COMMUNITY

A majority (56%) of Americans say that the upcoming Congressional hearings to investigate alleged extremism in the American Muslim community are a good idea, compared with 29% who say they are a bad idea. Approval of the hearings varies considerably by political and religious affiliation.

  • Men are more likely than woman to believe the hearings are a good idea (61% to 51%). Women are more than twice as likely as men to say they do not know whether it is a good or bad idea (17% to 8%).
  • More than 7-in-10 (71%) Republicans say the hearings are a good idea compared to less than half (45%) of Democrats and 56% of Independents.
  • More than three-quarters (76%) of those who most trust Fox News say it is a good idea compared to only 45% of those who most trust CNN and 28% of those who most trust Public television.
  • Seven-in-ten white evangelicals say the hearings are a good idea, compared to roughly half of white mainline Protestants (50%) and the unaffiliated (49%).

More than 7-in-10 (72%) Americans believe Congress should investigate religious extremism anywhere it exists and not just focus on the American Muslim community. Support for this broader approach is strong across political and religious affiliation groups, including 77% of Republicans, and 73% of white evangelicals.

FEARS AND FAIRNESS TOWARDS AMERICAN MUSLIM COMMUNITY

A plurality (46%) of Americans believe that American Muslims have not done enough to oppose extremism in their communities. One-third of the general public disagrees, and 1-in-5 are unsure.

  • Men are more likely than women to believe American Muslims have not done enough to oppose extremism (54% to 40%).
  • A majority of Republicans (56%) and those who most trust Fox News (59%) believe Muslims have not done enough
  • Only about 4-in-10 of those who most trust CNN (43%), those who most trust Broadcast news (42%) and Democrats (42%) say Muslim Americans have not done enough. Only 3-in-10 public television watchers agree that Muslims have not done enough, and a majority (56%) disagrees.
  • More than any other group, white evangelicals (62%) report that Muslim Americans have not done enough to oppose extremism.

Nearly half (49%) of Americans do not believe that Muslims in the U.S. have been unfairly targeted by law enforcement. More than one-third (36%) believe that Muslims have been targeted unfairly.

  • Young Americans (age 18 to 34) are much more likely to believe that Muslims have been targeted unfairly than older adults (age 65+) (48% to 27%)
  • Nearly half (48%) of those who most trust CNN, a majority (57%) of those who most trust public television say that Muslims in the U.S. have been targeted unfairly by law enforcement, compared to only 16% of those who most trust Fox News.
  • A majority (53%) of Democrats say that Muslims in the U.S. have been targeted unfairly by law enforcement, compared to only 19% of Republicans.

More than 6-in-10 (62%) believe Muslims are an important part of the American religious community. There is strong agreement on this across political and religious affiliation groups.

Only about 1-in-5 (23%) Americans believe that American Muslims want to establish Shari’a law as law of the land in the United States. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of the public disagree.

  • Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to believe that Muslims want to establish Shari’a law as law of the land (31% to 15%).
  • Those who most trust Fox News are twice as likely as those who most trust Broadcast news and about four times as likely those who most trust public television to believe this (35%, 18% and 9%)
  • More than one-third (34%) of white evangelicals believe Muslims are trying to impose Shari’a law, compared to only 20% of white mainline Protestants and 22% of white Catholics.

SOURCES OF TV NEWS AND INFLUENCE ON VIEWS

The survey findings also show a significant correlation between trust in Fox News and negative attitudes about Muslims. Americans who most trust Fox News are more likely to believe that Muslims want to establish Shari’a law, have not done enough to oppose extremism, and believe investigating Muslim extremism is a good idea. There are even differences among Republicans and white evangelicals who trust Fox news most and those who trust other media.

  • Republicans who say Fox News is their most trusted news source are more likely than Republicans who trust a different news source to say they are well-informed about Islam (53% to 34%). They are also more likely than Republicans who most trust other news sources to say the hearings are a good thing (82% to 60%).
  • White evangelicals who most trust Fox News are much more likely than those who trust a different news source to say they feel informed about Islam than those who trust other sources of news (70% to 37%). This same group of evangelicals is also more likely than their counterparts who most trust other news sources to say the hearings are a good thing (84% to 60%).

KNOWLEDGE ABOUT HEARINGS AND ISLAM

Only about one-third (34%) of Americans report having heard a lot (7%) or a little (28%) about the upcoming hearings to investigate alleged extremism in the American Muslim community. Nearly two-thirds (65%) report having heard nothing at all about it.

  • Older Americans (age 65+), are much more likely to have heard about the hearings than younger Americans (age 18 to 34) (49% to 31%).
  • Americans who report that Fox is their most trusted news source are more likely to have heard about the hearings (40%) than those who trust CNN (28%) or Broadcast news (33%).
  • Close to half (45%) of white evangelicals report having heard about the upcoming hearings compared to just 29% of white mainline Protestants.

Americans are split over whether they feel well informed about Islam and the beliefs and practices of Muslims. Forty-five percent say they are well informed while an equal number say they are not.

  • Men are much more likely to report that they are well informed than women (56% to 36%).
  • College graduates are also much more likely to report feeling well informed than those with no college education (58% to 39%).
  • There is NO DIFFERENCE between Republicans and Democrats on how well informed they feel about Islam.
  • However, those who most trust Fox News are much more likely than those who most trust CNN or those who most trust Broadcast news to report feeling well informed (51%, 41%, 31% respectively).

Read the news release here.
Read the RNS story here.
Read the Questionnaire, Topline Results and Survey Methodology here.

*Results from the survey were based on telephone interviews conducted February 11-13, 2011 among a national probability sample of 1,015 adults age 18 and older.