WASHINGTON (AA): Americans prioritize religious freedom for Christians above other faiths, endorsing those of Muslims’ the least, according to a poll released Wednesday.
The Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey comes amid anti-Muslim rhetoric by Republican presidential candidates in the wake of terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
Eight out of 10 Americans think upholding religious freedom in general is “extremely important.” But that figure falls when respondents were asked about specific religions.
While 82 percent of respondents believe in the protection of religious freedoms for Christians, the percentage fell to 61 percent for Muslims.
About 70 percent endorsed preserving Jewish religious freedom, while 67 percent said so for Mormons.
The poll found the endorsement for freedom for those with no stated religion was higher than for Muslims and 63 percent say it’s important to protect the freedoms of those with no religion.
Figures among members of the two major political parties mirrored the general poll.
In the survey, 88 percent of Republicans said it was important to protect the religious liberty of Christians, but the rate fell to 60 percent when Muslims were considered.
Among Democrats, 83 percent said protections were important for Christians, but just 67 percent believed the same should be afforded to Muslims.
But at least one Hollywood celebrity is coming to the defense of Muslims.
One of the starts of the cult classic Pulp Fiction movie told the Hollywood Reporter magazine that people believe they have a ‘legitimate reason’ to fear Muslims after the recent attacks.
“I can’t even tell you how much that day the thing that happened in San Bernardino — I was in Hawaii — how much I really wanted that to just be another, you know, crazy white dude, and not really some Muslims,” said Samuel Jackson.
“It’s like they have a legitimate reason now to look at your Muslim neighbor, friend, whatever in another way. And they become the new young black men,” Jackson added.
The 67-year-old actor said that he plays golf with Donald Trump, who recently called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S., noting that the billionaire Republican presidential candidate is running a campaign of “hate” but that there was nothing he could do about the frontrunner’s rhetoric.