01/09/2015 01:45 pm ET Updated Jan 09, 2015

Survey Reveals Americans' Double-Standard When Evaluating Religious Violence


Following Wednesday's attack on Paris-based satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, many Muslims found themselves in the spotlight once again, forced to apologize for a crime they had nothing to do with.

Such is typically not the case for acts of violence perpetrated by other religious groups, and a 2011 Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey may offer a hint as to why the double-standard exists.

The PRRI survey showed evidence of contradictions in Americans' attitudes toward religious violence. Most notably, 83 percent of Americans said that self-proclaimed Christians who commit acts of violence in the name of Christianity are not really Christians, while 48 percent of Americans said that self-proclaimed Muslims who commit acts of violence in the name of Islam are not really Muslims.

Republican respondents (55 percent) were more likely than Democrat respondents (40 percent) to say a self-identified Muslim who commits acts of violence in the name of Islam is really Muslim.

The same report revealed that only 58 percent of American adults view Muslims favorably, and a 2014 Pew report showed that just 38 percent say they personally know someone who is Muslim.

In an article published at the time of the study's release, PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones relayed that the double standard was most prominently employed by those who identify as Christian but least likely to appear among millennials. Jones said at the time that the younger generation might "facilitate a resolution of the public’s current ambivalence about the place of American Muslims in society," but offered less optimism in an email to HuffPost on Friday.

A September 2014 Pew report found that 50 percent of American adults say Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its followers -- up from 40 percent in 2011, Jones said.

"These recent increases in Americans' concerns about the links between Islam and violence," Jones argued, "suggest that, if anything, these findings about the American double standard on religious violence may understate the size of this gap today."


LISTEN: Religion, Satire And Society In The Shadow Of Charlie Hebdo



Muslims Respond To Charlie Hebdo Shooting