Evangelicals are the only religious group in the United States that hasn’t gained a better reputation in recent years. And Americans have become less likely to know an Evangelical, more so than any other religious tradition.
While sentiments toward evangelicals have remained stable (even among Democrats), Americans have given warmer responses to all other religious groups this year than in 2014, according to Pew Research Center findings released today.
Jews, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons all improved their rankings, with the two lowest-rated affiliations – Atheists and Muslims – registering some of the largest gains.
Pew’s “feeling thermometer” survey of more than 4,200 adults found that even without any increases, evangelicalism remains one of the most beloved religious traditions in the country, behind Jews, Catholics and Christians. Protestants. However, the movement’s popularity is largely due to positive ratings from evangelicals themselves.
Overall, 44% of Americans have a positive view of evangelicals, while 38% feel neutral and 18% have a negative view. Ratings plummet when responses from other evangelicals, which accounted for more than 1 in 4 respondents, are removed: just under a third of non-evangelicals (32%) have warm feelings towards the group.
Part of the reason for poor evangelical ratings is lack of exposure. The proportion of Americans who say they know an evangelical fell 9 percentage points between 2014 and 2017, to 61% today. (A 2013 study alluded to lack of exposure: 1 in 5 non-evangelicals in North America said they didn’t personally know an evangelical.) Meanwhile, knowing an evangelical boosts their rating by 12…