It comes as no surprise that we are a nation of double standards when it comes to religion, violence and perceptions.
A 2011 Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey showed the double standard clearly. 83 percent of Americans believe that a terrorist act committed by a self-proclaimed Christian is not really a Christian, whereas only 48 percent believe the same about a Muslim terrorist. Remember, this is a study completed four years prior to the 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
The biggest “gap” in the survey comes from evangelical Protestants showing that 10 percent would see a self-proclaimed Christian terrorist as one of the Christian faith. Yet when it comes to Muslims, 57 percent equate the self-proclaimed Muslims terrorists are of the Muslim faith.
It is also important to note that whenever there is a terrorist attack by an extremist Muslim group, the entire Muslim community believes that it needs to apologize for actions of which they would have no connection.
One of the reasons for this gulf in understanding comes from the “Us versus Them” syndrome. It is easier to identify one of the Muslim faith or of middle-eastern heritage than it is to identify a Christian. With over 73 percent of all Americans who identify themselves a Christians, well, it cannot be “Us” who are committing these horrendous crimes against humanity. It must be “Them,” those with the darker skin, wearing strange clothes, speaking a strange language and believing in a different god.
Now one does not need religion to create an “Us versus Them” situation. We do it through political affiliation or national identity, even concerning looks, height, costumes… you pick the differences. But today, religion seems to be most significant.
To see the entire Muslim community as the “bad guys” is wrong and most secular Humanists understand this.
This survey was conducted on the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. I wonder what it would say about the relationship between the predominantly Christian United States and the Muslim world in 2015 after the emergence of The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and the Paris murders by the Kouachi brothers?
In 2011, the majority of Americans did not believe that the American Muslim community wanted to instill Islamic law in the United States (61 percent). I wonder if that holds true today?
In 2011, 58 percent of the people believe that religion solves more problems than it creates. I wonder if that holds true today?
In 2011, 66 percent of those surveyed believed in the separation of church and state. I wonder if that holds true today?
The one thing you will not find in this survey is more complete demographic information. There were no questions concerning the religious or political affiliations of the respondents. I believe that this information could have been useful in determining the source of the comments made.
I urge you to read the summary of the report by the PRRI. I think you will find it fascinating and enlightening.