Poll Shows Americans' Unfamiliarity with and Negative Views of Islam

October 25, 2002

Source: ABC News


On October 25, 2002 ABC News released the results of an ABCNEWS/Beliefnet poll on attitudes of Americans towards Islam. "Amid broad public unfamiliarity with Islam, doubts about the religion's tenets have grown. More than a third of Americans now don't think it teaches respect for other beliefs, and nearly a quarter believe Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims... While these numbers remain far from majorities, they are up... These views in part reflect very widespread unfamiliarity with Islam. Seventy-three percent of Americans do not feel they have a good basic understanding of its beliefs and tenets, and that, too, has risen, from 61 percent last winter... This suggests that any additional information people have gleaned about Islam has confused more than clarified... Familiarity does matter: People who feel they have a good basic understanding of Islam are 16 points more likely to express a favorable opinion of it, 15 points more likely to think it respects other faiths and 15 points more likely to call it a peaceful religion."