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American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christians

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American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christians

Postby Remember_Me » Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:43 pm

And rightfully so.

A new poll indicating that American Jews may have distrust and suspicion for evangelicals is raising eyebrows. The study, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, has some startling findings, especially considering the fact that many Jews and Christians have been working together for some time now in support of the Israeli state.

The Jewish Forward has more about the poll’s results:

Only one in five Jewish Americans holds favorable views of those aligned with the Christian right, a category that includes most of Israel’s evangelical supporters. [...]

The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and published April 3, asked Jewish respondents to rate the favorability of several religious groups. Mormons received a 47% favorability rating, Muslims 41.4%; the group described as “Christian Right” was viewed in favorable terms by only 20.9% of Jewish Americans. In contrast, the general American population, as shown by other polling data, views evangelicals more favorably than Muslims and Mormons.

Public Religion Research Institut Poll: American Jews Suspicious of Evangelical Christiansisrael-flag

These results are sending shock-waves through some faith communities. International Fellowship of Christians and Jews founder and president Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, for one, is stunned, saying that he finds the results both “shocking and concerning.” Eckstein, who has worked diligently to foster Jewish-evangelical relations, isn’t taking the results lightly.

As many people ask why these results are emerging even after years of collaborative work between the two faith communities, some contend that it may be a result of conflicting political inclinations and long-held stereotypes. Some experts also maintain that social conservatism – though it appeals to many Christians — is not palatable to the majority of American Jews.

“Most liberal Jews view the Christian right as wanting to impose a Christian America on them,” explained Marshall Breger, professor at the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law. “To the extent to which the bulk of Jews are liberal, both politically and culturally, they’ll have negative views of the Christian right.”


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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby Dangerousman » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:01 pm

And how is this "shocking and concerning?" I imagine if you asked Jews how favorably they looked upon Islamic fundamentalists there would be a fairly low positive response. I also imagine American Jews have a largely favorable view of "Germans" but not so much for neo-Nazi Germans. If you're going to make a fair comparison, then compare a broad religion such as Islam with the broad religion Christianity, and not with a small somewhat radical segment of Christianity.
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby kurt_w » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:28 am

Dangerousman wrote: If you're going to make a fair comparison, then compare a broad religion such as Islam with the broad religion Christianity, and not with a small somewhat radical segment of Christianity.


That would be a different question. The poll is apparently exploring Jewish Americans' views of evangelicals. To place those views in context, it also asks for their views about a variety of other groups. (And FWIW, in the US both "Mormons" and "Muslims" are tiny fractions of the population compared to "Evangelicals".)

There's also this: "In contrast, the general American population, as shown by other polling data, views evangelicals more favorably than Muslims and Mormons."

I think the poll results are only "shocking and concerning" to people who wish that American Jews would adopt a more right-wing viewpoint, including support for continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank. In reality, most Jewish Americans are liberals (in 2008, Jews voted Democratic by a 4:1 margin) and like most liberals, they look askance at the Christian Right's efforts to insert conservative social issues into the public sphere.
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:36 am

kurt_w wrote:
Dangerousman wrote: If you're going to make a fair comparison, then compare a broad religion such as Islam with the broad religion Christianity, and not with a small somewhat radical segment of Christianity.


That would be a different question. The poll is apparently exploring Jewish Americans' views of evangelicals. To place those views in context, it also asks for their views about a variety of other groups.


Adding those two groups for "context" dilutes the point though. Even if evangelical Christians outnumber Mormons and Muslims, they are still only a sect of a much larger religious group. Since technically Mormons consider themselves Christian as well that comparison makes some sense, but adding in the Muslim comparison instead of say, Shai Muslim or fundamentalist Muslims is a pointless comparison (unless you were using the poll to score some kind of political points). In the end neither really add anything to the real point, which appears to be that 80% of US Jews don't have the same views and goals as Evangelical Christians.

To which I guess the only response I can think of is Duh?
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby Dangerousman » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:08 pm

Francis Di Domizio wrote:
kurt_w wrote:
Dangerousman wrote: If you're going to make a fair comparison, then compare a broad religion such as Islam with the broad religion Christianity, and not with a small somewhat radical segment of Christianity.


That would be a different question. The poll is apparently exploring Jewish Americans' views of evangelicals. To place those views in context, it also asks for their views about a variety of other groups.


Adding those two groups for "context" dilutes the point though. Even if evangelical Christians outnumber Mormons and Muslims, they are still only a sect of a much larger religious group. Since technically Mormons consider themselves Christian as well that comparison makes some sense, but adding in the Muslim comparison instead of say, Shai Muslim or fundamentalist Muslims is a pointless comparison (unless you were using the poll to score some kind of political points). In the end neither really add anything to the real point, which appears to be that 80% of US Jews don't have the same views and goals as Evangelical Christians.

To which I guess the only response I can think of is Duh?


I'm guessing that a majority of Christians don't have the same views and goals as Evangelical Christians either.
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby kurt_w » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:58 am

Francis Di Domizio wrote:Adding those two groups for "context" dilutes the point though. Even if evangelical Christians outnumber Mormons and Muslims, they are still only a sect of a much larger religious group.


Dilutes what point? Why does it matter if evangelicals are only a subset of the broader population of Christians? They are different from non-evangelical Christians. If you want to know how Jewish Americans feel about Christians in general, ask a poll question about Christians in general.

Now, if the way the poll was being reported didn't match the questions actually asked, then I'd agree there was a problem. For example, if someone wrote a newspaper article about that poll and said that Jewish Americans looked more favorably on Islamic fundamentalists than on Christian fundamentalists, that would be misleading.

Based on the poll results discussed in that article, this is a perfectly reasonable and valid conclusion:

Jewish Americans have less favorable views of evangelical Christians than they do of Muslims in general.

There's nothing wrong with that. You've asked people how they feel about Group A, and about Group B, and determined that they prefer Group A.
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby kurt_w » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:07 am

Dangerousman wrote:I'm guessing that a majority of Christians don't have the same views and goals as Evangelical Christians either.


Evangelicals are the largest religious group in the US. They represent about one-third of all Christians, and are a majority of Protestants.
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:26 am

kurt_w wrote:
Dangerousman wrote:I'm guessing that a majority of Christians don't have the same views and goals as Evangelical Christians either.


Evangelicals are the largest religious group in the US. They represent about one-third of all Christians, and are a majority of Protestants.



Because the majority of Christians live in the US...

But you you do realize you just validated Dangerousman's statement? 1/3 of all Christians being Evangelicals (actually closer to 1/4) means that a large majority (either 2/3 or 3/4) are not Evangelical Christians.

As far as what point, that's the question I guess I am asking. If the point was to show that a traditionally liberal leaning group was more comfortable with another group that isn't exactly beloved or well treated by right wing conservatives, than it is with a traditionally right wing conservative group, then sure, the poll made it's point.

Of course anyone with half a brain and some knowledge of Jewish doctrine, history and general political trends in the Jewish community could have answered that question. I'm guessing the same poll could be repeated with Catholics in place of Jews and get similar results.

If the poll really was to show that Jews were not comfortable with Evangelical Christians, then all they had to ask was how they feel about Evangelical Christians. It's not a question that really needs a comparison to make it's point.
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby snoqueen » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:03 am

I'm guessing that a majority of Christians don't have the same views and goals as Evangelical Christians either.


How comfortable is anybody with evangelical Christians these days?

I think that's the real story -- not who's most uncomfortable.
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby kurt_w » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:34 am

Francis Di Domizio wrote:
kurt_w wrote:
Dangerousman wrote:I'm guessing that a majority of Christians don't have the same views and goals as Evangelical Christians either.


Evangelicals are the largest religious group in the US. They represent about one-third of all Christians, and are a majority of Protestants.


But you you do realize you just validated Dangerousman's statement? 1/3 of all Christians being Evangelicals (actually closer to 1/4) means that a large majority (either 2/3 or 3/4) are not Evangelical Christians.


How do you get "actually closer to 1/4"? The page you linked to says that Christians make up 78.4% of the US population, and Evangelicals are 26.3%. 26.3% is just about exactly one-third of 78.4% ... as I said.

Yes, Evangelicals are only a plurality of US Christians, not an outright majority. Does that "validate Dangerousman's statement"? I don't think so. Remember that he said "a majority [...] don't have the same views and goals as Evangelical Christians". That's a vague and qualitative statement. What views, what goals? How do you tell? How many conservative Catholics, conservative non-Evangelical Protestants, and conservative Mormons share those views, or those goals?

It's difficult to talk about stuff like this in the abstract. My point is just that Evangelicals are, in fact, a very large proportion of US Christians. They tend to have a disproportionately large influence on American politics, at least in terms of forcing Republican candidates to pay lip service to the Evangelical worldview. Because American Jews are one of the most uniformly liberal and Democratic-leaning constituencies in the US, this will tend to alienate Jews from Evangelicals.

If the poll really was to show that Jews were not comfortable with Evangelical Christians, then all they had to ask was how they feel about Evangelical Christians. It's not a question that really needs a comparison to make it's point.


Sometimes comparisons can be helpful. Overall, Americans tend to have fairly poor opinions of Muslims. A poll that shows that some group of people feels even less favorably disposed towards Group X than they do towards Muslims is noteworthy, because it highlights the extreme unpopularity of Group X among the poll's respondents.

You and I might not find this result surprising. But the article was highlighting the efforts of conservatives who have been trying to build bridges between Evangelicals and Jews. See, for example, this paragraph from the quoted article:

These results are sending shock-waves through some faith communities. International Fellowship of Christians and Jews founder and president Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, for one, is stunned, saying that he finds the results both “shocking and concerning.” Eckstein, who has worked diligently to foster Jewish-evangelical relations, isn’t taking the results lightly.


Clearly, the results were extremely disturbing to them. Perhaps that's just because of the indication that their attempts to unite Jews and Evangelicals haven't been very successful. It's also possible that some of the people trying to unite those two communities themselves have particularly unfavorable opinions of Muslims, and so find the results of this comparison to be particularly upsetting.
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:37 am

Sorry on the % thing, for some reason I was thinking it was 26% of Christians not all religions. I'd still say that there is a strong likelihood that a majority of non-Evangelical Christians don't generally find themselves agreeing with the standard Evangelical beliefs. I'll try and see if I can find a poll on political leanings of Catholics and Mainline Protestants.

kurt_w wrote:Sometimes comparisons can be helpful. Overall, Americans tend to have fairly poor opinions of Muslims. A poll that shows that some group of people feels even less favorably disposed towards Group X than they do towards Muslims is noteworthy, because it highlights the extreme unpopularity of Group X among the poll's respondents.


I think my biggest problem using Muslims as a comparison is that it is clearly feeding off that negative image. The comparison starts from the belief that thinking poorly of Muslims is to be expected and normal. Then says "Hey, Jews think you guys are even worse then Muslims." Why does it need that extra shock value? Given the efforts that Evangelicals have made towards working with Jews, isn't the fact that 4 out of 5 Jews aren't too fond of your movement enough of a wake up call.

One other thing of note. It would definitely be a more useful poll if the numbers were split up between various Jewish traditions (Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, etc..)
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby kurt_w » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:15 pm

Francis Di Domizio wrote:I'll try and see if I can find a poll on political leanings of Catholics and Mainline Protestants.


Most such polling is done by Pew.

Catholics and Mainline Protestants are both much more liberal, on average, than Evangelicals. For example, opinions on same-sex marriage: as of Oct 2011, most white Catholics and mainline Protestants support same-sex marriage, while Evangelicals and black Protestants oppose it (Hispanic Catholics are divided). But because Evangelicals are the largest Christian group, overall Christians opposed same-sex marriage by 51-40.

As for the motivation behind the comparison to Muslims, I'd guess it's because non-Jews tend to make the following mental associations:

Jewishness ~= support for Israel
Israel ~= conflict with Muslims

Therefore, Jews ought to hate Muslims. And therefore, people who don't know much about the political demographics of Jewish Americans are surprised to learn that Jewish Americans have lower opinions of Evangelicals than of Muslims.
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby Dangerousman » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:40 pm

kurt_w wrote: My point is just that Evangelicals are, in fact, a very large proportion of US Christians. They tend to have a disproportionately large influence on American politics.


Using your logic (and math) one could argue that Democrats and Republicans have a disproportionately large influence on American politics.

"During March, 36.4% of Americans considered themselves Republicans while 33.4% were Democrats."

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_ ... san_trends
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby fisticuffs » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:42 pm

Using your logic (and math) one could argue that Democrats and Republicans have a disproportionately large influence on American politics.


There are plenty of people who would agree with that myself included.
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Re: American Jews Favor Muslims More Than Evangelical Christ

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:54 pm

Dangerousman wrote:Using your logic (and math) one could argue that Democrats and Republicans have a disproportionately large influence on American politics.

"During March, 36.4% of Americans considered themselves Republicans while 33.4% were Democrats."


Given that the number of elected officials not affiliated with either party is no where near 30.2% I'd say that's a fairly safe assessment.
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