Islam

Half of Americans say Islamist militants aren't really Muslims

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While the majority of Americans think self-described Christians who commit acts of violence in the name of Christianity aren't really Christian, only half of the public says the same about those who claim to be Muslims and are violent.

Seventy-five percent of the public believes those who claim to be Christians and indulge in violence in the name of Christianity are actually not Christian. But only 50 percent of Americans say those who claim to be Muslims and commit violence in the name of Islam aren't really Muslims, according to a write-up, "Americans' Double Standard on Religious Violence," by two authors from PRRI.

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Thirty-seven percent say that such people are actually Muslim, according to PRRI Research Associate Betsy Cooper and PRRI Director of Research Daniel Cox, revealing part of the findings of a 2015 PRRI study report for the first time. 

The two refer to President Donald Trump's campaign promise of fighting "radical Islamic terrorism," and say that "the current administration continues to claim that violence perpetrated by Muslim extremists is unique and a uniquely dangerous threat."

"While Americans of all stripes exhibit this double standard to some degree, there are notable partisan differences," the authors say.

About 75 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats believe that people who commit acts of violence in the name of Christianity are not really Christian. "However, Republicans are far less likely to make these same allowances for Muslims," the authors add, citing that only 33 percent of Republicans believe that people who commit acts of violence in the name of Islam are not actually Muslim. However, 55 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents believe that those who claim to perpetrate acts of violence on behalf of Islam are not really Muslims.

"No religious group expresses a larger double standard than white evangelical Protestants," the authors continue. "White evangelical Protestants are the most likely (87 percent) to disown Christian terrorists who claim to be acting in Christianity's name. However, they are among the least likely (44 percent) to say the same about terrorists who say they're Muslim."

Other Christian groups also express a "double standard," Cooper and Cox add. "But it is notable that the gap is smaller than Americans overall."

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