Poll: Jews More Favorable to Mormons, Muslims Than Christian Right

A new poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, a liberal polling research organization, shows that American Jews look more favorably upon Mormons and Muslims than the Christian Right. The survey, though, makes some faulty comparisons.

Respondents to the February 23-March 5, 2012 survey were asked to rate various groups on a scale of one to 100 on how warm and favorable they felt toward that group. A score of 100 represents the most favorable. Jews gave those who are part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called "Mormons" in the survey, a 47 and Muslims a 41.4, on average. Both are significantly higher than the 20.9 average favorability score for the Christian Right.

The survey of 1,004 included both those who consider themselves ethnically Jewish, but not religious, and religious Jews. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus five percentage points.

While Jews' feelings toward Muslims are relatively low on the 100-point scale, few Jews, 22 percent, believe American Muslims want to establish Shari'a or Islamic law in the United States.

In some ways, comparing Jewish feelings toward Muslims and Mormons to the Christian Right is faulty. Muslims and Mormons are religious groups. The Christian Right is a social movement, like the civil rights movement, Tea Party or gay rights movement.

The Christian Right can also be thought of as a coalition of different religious groups that share common values and social conservative policy goals. Indeed, an irony in the comparison is that the Christian Right represents many Mormons, who tend to be social conservatives. Many American Muslims also share Christian Right values on abortion and gay marriage.

Some of the reporting on the PRRI survey, such as at JewishJournal.com and The Jewish Daily, falsely equates "evangelicals" with "Christian Right." While the Christian Right includes many evangelicals, not all evangelicals support the Christian Right. There are politically liberal evangelicals as well.

PRRI has been criticized in the past for using the wording of questions on their surveys to get results consistent with a liberal political agenda. Some have also suggested that the organization has too much influence from one of its donors, Arcus Foundation, a gay rights advocacy organization.

Robert Jones, CEO of PRRI, has maintained though that Arcus Foundation has had no input on their surveys from Arcus Foundation and he adheres to high standards in the design of his surveys.