Americans closely split over whether Islam is violent

As Republicans prepare for a debate likely to be dominated by talk of Islam and terrorism, new polls show Americans divided on the question of whether the religion is violent by nature.

Republicans are far more suspicious than other Americans of an inherent link between Islam and violence, the polls show, a fact that is likely to strongly influence the GOP presidential hopefuls as they debate.

A survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center released Tuesday found that a large majority of white evangelical Protestants — a key Republican constituency — as well as smaller majorities of older Americans and those with less education said Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers. [Los Angeles Times] Read more

Views of Government’s Handling of Terrorism Fall to Post-9/11 Low – Little change in views of relationship between Islam and violence

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., the public’s concerns about terrorism have surged and positive ratings of the government’s handling of terrorism have plummeted. But other attitudes relating to terrorism and security, as well as perceptions of whether Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence, have shown far less change.For first time since 9/11, government’s job rating on terrorism turns negative

The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Dec. 8-13 among 1,500 adults, finds that since the start of this year, the share of Americans who say the government is doing well in reducing the threat of terrorism has fallen by 26 percentage points – from 72% to 46% – and now stands at its lowest point in the post-9/11 era.

…. The partisan divide over whether Islam encourages violence is now as wide as it has ever been. Fully 68% of Republicans say Islam encourages violence more than other religions, a historical high but little changed since last fall. By contrast, just 30% of Democrats say Islam is more likely to encourage violence than other religions, down from 42% in September 2014, but on par with Democratic opinion at other points in recent years. [Pew Research Center] Read more