Pew survey: Jews most popular religious group in U.S.

Uriel Heilman

NEW YORK (JTA) – A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows that Jews are the most warmly regarded religious group in America.

The survey of 3,217 adults conducted in June asked respondents to rate their feelings toward various religious groups on a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 being coldest, 100 warmest and 50 meaning they have neither positive nor negative feelings about the group. Jews rated 63, slightly ahead of Catholics (62) and evangelicals (61). Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons prompted neutral ratings, from 48 to 53, and Muslims got the worst rating, at 40. Atheists rated 41.

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Respondents rated their own faith groups highest, the survey said, explaining that evangelicals and Catholics are so fondly viewed in the United States because those are the country’s largest religious groups (the survey counted Protestants as evangelicals). Together, Catholics and evangelicals represented 52 percent of respondents.

Jews gave themselves an 89 rating. For other faith groups, Jews gave Catholics a 58 rating, Buddhists 61, Hindus 57, atheists 55, Mormons 48, Muslims 35 and evangelicals a cool 34.

Evangelicals in the survey rated Jews very positively, with a rating of 69.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said they know someone who is Jewish; Jews constitute roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population.

The survey showed a divide between older and younger Americans. Older Americans view Jews, evangelicals and Catholics most favorably. Younger Americans gave higher ratings to atheists and Muslims than older Americans did – ratings of 49 each by Americans aged 18-29.

The survey also showed Jews were viewed most favorably by whites, at a 66 rating. Blacks and Hispanics each gave Jews a 58 rating. Blacks gave evangelicals and Muslims more favorable ratings than whites did.

The survey had a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

Uriel Heilman is JTA’s senior writer and former managing editor. Follow him on Twitter at @urielheilman