Press Release: Franciscans Dismayed by New Findings on American Catholic Attitudes Towards Islam

Press Release: Franciscans Dismayed by New Findings on American Catholic Attitudes Towards Islam

Perhaps Even More Disturbing is That Some Catholics Are Perpetuating Islamophobia

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jason Miller, FAN Director of Campaigns
jmiller@franciscanaction.org
202-527-7568

Washington, D.C.—Today the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University released a national poll of Catholics and their attitudes towards Muslims and Islam. Perhaps not surprising, most American Catholics do not personally know a Muslim and most do not have a good understanding of Islam as a religion. The report found that “Nearly half of Catholics can’t name any similarities between Catholicism and Islam, or say explicitly that there are no commonalities.”

Perhaps most disturbing however is the fact that many Catholic publishers, media outlets, and some prominent Catholics perpetuate fear of Muslims and promote Islamophobia. The Bridge Initiative found that "Nearly half of Catholics (45%) believe that Islam is more likely to 'encourage violence than other religions around the world.'" The report found that on average Catholics who frequently read Catholic media outlets tend to have a more unfavorable view of Muslims. The Franciscan Action Network (FAN) is concerned that these media trends are helping to drive American Catholics’ negative views of Islam. We are all our brother's and sister's keepers and this promotion of hate neither humanizes Muslims in America--including refugees--nor does it help promote healthy interfaith dialogue.

“In choosing the name Francis, the Pope showed that he was committed to interfaith dialogue, much like his namesake. At the Franciscan Action Network, we’re deeply disappointed in the survey results, and ask American Catholics to get to know their Muslim neighbors," said Franciscan Action Network executive director Patrick Carolan. “And for those Catholics promoting fear and bigotry, we call on them to consider a different path and to follow the lead of St. Francis and the Sultan in the 13th Century.”

As part of Franciscan Action Network’s mission is peacemaking, FAN commends the Bridge Initiative for their efforts which shed much-needed light on the state of Catholic-Muslim relations in America today. FAN looks forward to continuing to promote an ongoing dialogue between American Catholics and Muslims, including working with Unity Productions Foundation on an upcoming  documentary on the “Sultan and the Saint.”

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Inspired by the Gospel of Jesus, and the example of Saints Francis and Clare, the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) is a collective Franciscan voice seeking to transform United States public policy related to peace making, care for creation, poverty, and human rights.

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