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Millennials Like Evangelicals as Much as Atheists and Muslims, Support Buddhists Most

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Pew Research Center

There has no warming up in the feelings that Americans have for evangelicals.

According to the new survey, Americans still have the warmest feelings for Jews and Catholics, at 67 and 66 degrees, up from 62 and 63 degrees in 2014.

The survey, which was conducted January 9-23 from a sample of 4,248 respondents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, found that overall, Americans like Jews and Roman Catholics the most in society, giving them 67 and 66 percent favorability ratings, respectively.

Across the board, though, Americans feel increasingly positive toward a range of religious groups.

Nearly every religious group received higher marks this time around, though, with the exception of evangelical Christianity, which remained flat at 61. Although Jews remain the group seen most warmly by the entire public, with an overall score of 67, "warmth" towards them has declined steadily from one age group to the next. Most people felt warmly toward their own religious group, but Jews felt warmest of all: A full 91 percent of Jews felt warmly toward Jews. For the ratings of Mormons, college graduates combined for a 58 rating, with those with some college giving a 56 rating and those who are high school graduates or less a 48. The coolest overall ratings were fairly neutral on the scale - 48 and 50 toward Muslims and atheists, respectively - but were a significant step up from a 2014 survey that rated the groups at a chillier 40 and 41 degrees. And slightly more Americans view Muslims in a negative light (30%) than a positive one (25%). So while Republicans saw a 6-degree bump in feelings toward Muslims, Democrats saw a bigger 10-degree jump. HuffPost's poll revealed a 29-point gap between Republicans and Democrats who view Islam favorably ― at 15 percent and 44 percent, respectively. While the survey did not ask those surveyed for the reasons for their rankings, Kate Shellnutt of Christianity Today speculated that it may have something to do with a lack of exposure to evangelicals today compared with three years ago. And Atheists reciprocate the feeling. Democrats put Jews first at 66 and then Catholics at 64, while Republicans put Evangelical Christians at 71 and Catholics at 69, just ahead of Jews and mainline Protestants. The same goes for atheists, who comprise a larger share of young Americans than they do any other age group.

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Young adults aged 18 to 29 expressed warmer feelings toward Muslims than older Americans did. We totally crush Mormons (54 percent), which doesn't seem fair, since they are better-looking than we are, better at business, divorce less, and know the Old Testament as well as we do.

Millennials gave Muslims 58 percent likeability, with atheists 59 percent - the same as evangelicals and Mainline Protestants, who were also rated at 59 percent.

Respondents tended to have higher opinions of faiths that they had a personal connection to through friends and acquaintances.

Americans expressed warmer feelings toward religious groups when they know someone in the group. Atheists give the warm fuzzies to only 50 percent of respondents, which makes one wonder how respondents would feel about the huge number of Jews who are also atheists-when confronted by such a monstrous chimera as an atheist Jew, would the typical respondent love him for being Jewish or loathe him for being an atheist?

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