Bridge Initiative research reveals over 50% of Catholic media connects Islam to ISIS.

Catholics in America seem to have an unfavorable opinion about Muslims, according to new research findings. A study conducted by the Bridge Initiative brought to light a sad reality where only 14 percent of America’s Catholics revealed that they have favorable opinions about the Muslims. An analysis of Catholic media revealed that most of the Catholic publications are filled with anti-Islamic messages and the word “Islam,” when used, was majorly in connection with the Islamic State.

1,027 Catholics were taken for the study of which only a mere 14 percent said they had a somewhat positive opinion about Muslims. 30 percent said they had completely unfavorable views. 45 percent revealed that they had neither. It is interesting to note here that Catholics who said they personally knew some Muslims had more favorable views about the community. On the other hand, Catholics who did not personally know any Muslim were twice as likely to hold an unfavorable opinion about them.

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Catholics who regularly subscribed to Catholic media were found to have more unfavorable opinions. Content from between October 2015 to September 2016 was studied and it was found that Islam was used in connection with the Islamic State more than 50 percent of the time. However, those media that portray Islam in a negative light make less mention about the Pope or his open-minded views about Muslims.

This is also reflective of the chasm between the Pope and the Catholics in America. Pope Francis has given a call to Catholics to openly accept Muslims and to not equate Islam with terrorism. The Pope has hit the news many times for welcoming refugees and urging leaders to treat them well. However, these policies of the Pope do not seem to have reached the American Catholics, who continue to see Islam as a violent religion.

Persecution of Muslims peaked after 9/11. As such, the Catholics too show an obvious distrust and hatred of Muslims, just as mainstream Americans do. However, while America has traditionally been a Protestant nation, acceptance of Catholics into the mainstream American society is relatively recent. Catholics have been unanimously discriminated against by all Protestant denominations in America. In fact, even John F. Kennedy, who was a Catholic, had to make a formal speech to the Baptists to convince them that he would not take orders from the Pope.

The findings of the research can help Catholic leaders understand where they will have to focus on to help the community understand Muslims better and to facilitate a better communication channel.

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