Christians in Western European countries are reportedly more negative than their non-religious counterparts toward Muslim migrants after years of terrorist attacks and floods of refugees.
The Pew Research Center reported on anti-Muslim and anti-migrant sentiment among European Christians as part of a survey conducted in 15 countries. Researchers admitted, however, they did not conduct the survey among Muslim migrants and other minority religious communities to ask them about their views of other religions. The Associated Press also ran a story on the reported entitled “Study: Christians In West Europe Less Tolerant Of Immigrants.” The details of the report and the historic context of its findings, however, bear out a different story.
“On balance, more respondents say immigrants are honest and hardworking than say the opposite,” the report reads. “But a clear pattern emerges: Both church-attending and non-practicing Christians are more likely than religiously unaffiliated adults in Western Europe to voice anti-immigrant and anti-minority views.”
The report shows Christians in Britain, France, Germany and Italy, among other countries, whether practicing or merely cultural Christians, were more likely than the religiously unaffiliated to believe that Islam is incompatible with their country’s values and ways of life. All of these countries have also seen surges in predominantly Muslim refugees from Middle Eastern countries and all have suffered lethal acts of Islamic terror in recent years, except Italy, which suffered its last Islamic terrorist attack in 2009. (RELATED: Italy Has Many Refugees, Not Much Terror. But Why?)
Many European countries have also experienced severe problems with growing communities of predominantly Muslim migrants who refuse to integrate with their host country’s culture, language and — in some cases — laws. (RELATED: Denmark: Children Of Muslim Immigrants Must Learn About Democracy, Christmas)
Researchers explained they did not address the views of Muslim migrants and of other religious minorities because, in the case of Islamic communities, such groups are dispersed inconsistently throughout each country and so could be underrepresented by a general population survey. They also asserted that many recent Muslim migrants did not speak the language of their country of residence and so could not participate in the survey. Researchers did not explain why they could not provide translations of the survey to those communities of recent migrants.
The report did clarify, however, that while Western European Christians were more likely to express anti-Muslim sentiment, by no means were a majority of Christians prone to discriminate against Muslims and other religious minorities. The researchers also clarified that Western Europeans who claimed Christian identity, regardless of actual adherence to Christian practice and beliefs, were more likely to express nationalist, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim (NIM) sentiments.
“Independent of other factors, Western Europeans who identify as Christian (whether churchgoing or not) score higher on the NIM scale than those who have no religious affiliation. Put more simply: Christian identity, on its own, is associated with higher levels of nationalism and negative views of religious minorities and immigrants.
This is not to say that most Christians in Europe oppose immigration or want to keep Muslims and Jews out of their neighborhoods. In all 15 countries surveyed, fewer than half of all Christians score higher than 5 on the scale. The results also do not imply that Christian theology or religious teachings necessarily lead to anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim or anti-Jewish positions; on the contrary, many churches have been active in resettling refugees from the Middle East and elsewhere,” the report read.
The report also stated that “the majority of Europe’s Christians are non-practicing,” and explained the nature of Christian identity in Western Europe in part by citing French political scientist Olivier Roy.
“If the Christian identity of Europe has become an issue, it is precisely because Christianity as faith and practices faded away in favor of a cultural marker which is more and more turning into a neo-ethnic marker (‘true’ Europeans versus ‘migrants’),” the reported quoted from Roy.
Researchers surveyed 24,599 randomly selected adults across the 15 Western European countries from April to August in 2017. The survey findings have a margin of error of 2.7 to 3.3 percentage points depending on the number of adults surveyed in a given country.
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