While Americans overall are almost evenly divided on the question of whether Islam is more likely to encourage violence, there is a sharp partisan divide on the subject, with Republicans and tea party movement supporters believing strongly that it does, while Democrats disagree, according to a Pew Research Center poll
conducted Feb. 22-March 1.
The subject has been brought into sharp focus with a hearing scheduled for Thursday
by Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, on "Radicalization in the American Muslim community."
Forty-two percent of those surveyed said Islam doesn't encourage violence more than other religions while 40 percent said it does, with 18 percent undecided. That result is more closely divided than in the last two years Pew asked the question. In August 2010, the public said Islam did not encourage violence more than others by a 42 percent to 35 percent, and in 2009 they held that view by a 45 percent to 38 percent margin, with the remainder in both years undecided.
In March 2002, 51 percent had said Islam does not encourage violence more than others, compared to 25 percent who said it did.
Republicans who identify themselves as conservatives believe Islam encourages violence more than other religions by 66 percent to 21 percent, with the rest undecided. Those who align with the tea party movement share that view by a margin of 67 percent to 24 percent.
Democrats who consider themselves to be liberals reject that view of Islam as encouraging violence more than others by 61 percent to 29 percent, and moderate-to-conservative Democrats reject it by 48 percent to 31 percent.
Among other religious groups, Protestants overall believe by 46 percent to 37 percent that Islam encourages violence more than others, with white evangelicals holding that opinion by 60 percent to 24 percent. White mainline Protestants are evenly divided at 42 percent each.
Catholics reject the idea that Islam encourages more violence by 45 percent to 35 percent.
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