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Americans' Views of Islam Dim, Poll Finds

November 02, 2002|From Times Wire Reports

More Americans have unfavorable views of Islam today than at the start of 2002, a new ABC News/Beliefnet poll has found.

Thirty-three percent said they have an unfavorable opinion of the religion, compared with 24% in January.

Another finding from the poll indicates that a growing percentage of Americans also think Islam doesn't teach respect for other faiths. In January 22% held that view, but the new poll shows that 35% say that.

Likewise, a higher percentage of U.S. residents think Islam encourages violence, with 23% saying so in the new poll compared with 14% agreeing to that sentiment last winter.

Seventy-three percent of those surveyed said they do not think they have a basic understanding of Islam's beliefs and teachings, an increase from 61% at the start of the year.

Researchers found a divergence of opinion about Islam between nonevangelical and evangelical white Protestants. Among evangelicals, 31% had a favorable view of Islam and 45% were unfavorable. Among nonevangelicals, opinion was favorable, 48% to 23%.

The poll, conducted by telephone Oct. 11-15, called a random national sample of 1,018 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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