RELIGION
07/16/2014 10:34 am ET Updated Jul 17, 2014

Happiness Is a Warm... Religion? Americans Report 'Warm' And 'Cold' Feelings On Other Faiths

Americans tend to have the best feelings toward Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians and the worst feelings towards atheists and Muslims, according to new Pew Research Center survey results released Wednesday.

The survey asked Americans to rate religious groups on a "feeling thermometer" from zero to 100, with zero being the "coldest" and 100 being the "warmest."

Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians were on average rated 60 or higher. Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons had neutral ratings that ranged from 48 for Mormons to 53 for Buddhists. Atheists and Muslims, meanwhile, were respectively rated 41 and 40.

At least 40 percent of Americans rated both atheists and Muslims the coldest, at 33 and below.

Pew researchers found that groups tended to be rated the best by people who shared the same religious background. For example, Catholics on average rated Catholics at 80, but non-Catholics gave Catholics an average rating of 58. Evangelicals were similarly highly rated among themselves, but similar percentages of non-evangelicals rated them coldly (27) as did those that rated them warmly (30).

Pew also reported that personally knowing somebody of a certain faith was related toward warmer feelings about that group.

Part of the high ratings of Catholics and evangelicals, Pew explained, is that its sample size of 3,217 adults included high numbers of those groups. Catholics made up 20 percent of the survey sample and evangelical or born-again Christians made up 32 percent.

Between religious groups, there was a general pattern of mutually warm or mutually cold feelings, except for between white evangelicals and Jews. Evangelicals on average gave Jews a high rating of 69, while the average rating Jews gave to them was 34.

The full report, which also includes results broken down by race, age group and political party, is available on at Pew.

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