The Council on American-Islamic Relations is denouncing a survey that shows two-thirds of the nation's pastors believe Islam is a dangerous religion.
"It appears that Protestant pastors in America are overwhelmingly willing to use that phrase and cite Islam as a 'dangerous religion,'" said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research.
The research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention surveyed more than 1,000 pastors and found that 66 percent of ministers either somewhat or strongly agreed with the statement: "I believe Islam is a dangerous religion." Seventy-seven percent of evangelical pastors affirmed that statement, while only 44 percent of mainline Protestants agreed.
"Unfortunately, we have a vocal minority of Muslim-bashers who try and paint Islam as a violent faith," said Ibrahim Hooper CAIR. "When you have people like Franklin Graham attacking Islam repeatedly and Pat Robertson and others in the evangelical community, then I think that's where you get these kinds of figures."
But Stetzer said that's not what the survey revealed. "Our survey asked whether pastors viewed Islam as dangerous, but that does not necessarily mean 'violent,'" he said.
Their survey showed that pastors with advanced degrees seemed less likely to believe that the Muslim faith was dangerous. "When you ask people a question, 'What do you think about a certain faith?' and they overwhelmingly say that it's a dangerous religion, it tells us there's some concern among Protestant pastors," Stetzer said.
Not surprising, said Hooper. "When you don't have background and accurate and objective information about Islam, you are suceptible to stereotyping and bias."
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