U.S. Muslims Are More Accepting of Homosexuality than Evangelicals

In a speech last summer, Trump suggested creating an ideological screening test to bar from the U.S. Muslims who hold “the hateful ideology of Radical Islam—its oppression of women, gays, children, and nonbelievers.”

He explained further as follows:

A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people.

In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles—or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.

Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country.

Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued immigration visas.

These statements make the results of a recent poll feel highly ironic.

While homophobia certainly still exists in American Muslim communities, as a whole, American Muslims are slowly becoming more accepting of homosexuality.

And notably, they’re doing it at a faster rate than white evangelical Protestants.

Pew Research Center survey conducted this year found that 52 percent of U.S. Muslims say homosexuality should be accepted by society. In contrast, only 34 percent of white evangelical Protestants believed in 2016 that homosexuality should be accepted by society.

The rate at which white evangelicals are shifting their views is slower than the rate for Muslims.  White evangelicals shifted their views by 11 percentage points between 2006 and 2016. Muslims’ acceptance of homosexuality shot up by 25 percentage points between 2007 and 2017.

For illustration of this change, check out this chart:

And this change isn’t being driven solely by Muslims born in the U.S., either. While 57% of U.S. Muslims born in the country say homosexuality should be accepted by society, so do 49% of foreign-born U.S. Muslims, a number far higher that white evangelicals’ 34%. The numbers didn’t dip much for U.S. Muslims who said religion was “very important” to their lives, either: 47% of these respondents stated that homosexuality should be accepted by society.

Interestingly, based on Pew surveys, Baby Boomer U.S. Muslims are more likely to believe homosexuality should be accepted by society (42%) than were Baby Boomer evangelicals (32%), and Millennial U.S. Muslims are more likely to believe that homosexuality should be accepted by society (60%) than Millennial evangelicals (52%). Furthermore, U.S. Muslims (U.S.-born and foreign born, old and young) are rapidly becoming more accepting of homosexuality over time as white evangelical views remain more stagnant.

I’m not saying there’s not still progress to be made. U.S. Muslims are less likely than the U.S. general public to believe that homosexuality should be accepted by society (52% compared with 63%) and Millennial U.S. Muslims are less accepting that U.S. Millennials overall (60% compared with 74%). Still, the trajectory is towards greater acceptance, and a comparison with white evangelicals is important because of Trump’s embrace of that group even as he lambasts Muslims for lack of tolerance.

“You have a tremendous audience,” Trump told Pat Robertson while appearing on his 700 Club earlier this summer. “You have the people that I love: the evangelicals.” Trump made these comments despite the fact that Robertson is extremely anti-gay.

Trump’s rhetorical lambasting of Muslims for being intolerant of homosexuality isn’t actually about ensuring that gay rights are respected. It’s about fanning Islamophobia.

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