A new report by the Pew Research Center reveals that views on immigration vary considerably according to religious affiliation, with Muslims and Hindus topping the charts of those who say that increased immigration into the U.S. represents “a change for the better.”
A majority of both Muslims (51%) and Hindus (61%) view expanding U.S. immigration favorably, with figures that are nearly double the percentage of Americans taken as a group. On average, only 26% of U.S. citizens see a greater influx of immigrants as a change for the better, while 35% consider the presence of more immigrants to be a change for the worse.
Only 15% of Muslims and 10% of Hindus consider the trend toward more U.S. immigration to be a change for the worse.
The only group of religious affiliation to compete with Muslims and Hindus in their appreciation for the presence of more immigrants is the category of self-identified atheists, of whom nearly half (47%) believe that a growing immigrant presence is a positive adjustment in U.S. society. Only 14% of atheists believe the presence of more immigrants in America to be a negative thing.
By contrast, the religious group that views growing immigration in American society most negatively is Evangelical Protestants. Nearly half of Evangelicals (48%) see the increase in immigration in a negative light, while only 17% of this group sees augmented immigration as an improved situation.
Among self-identified Christians, the most pro-immigration category are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, with just 30% seeing increased immigration as a change for the worse and 25% seeing it as a change for the better.
Christians in general look askance at a growing immigrant presence in the U.S. population, with 39% considering the trend to be negative and only 22% viewing the change positively.
The Pews study suggests that one factor influencing the very favorable views of Muslims and Hindus toward growing U.S. immigration may be the fact that many of them are themselves immigrants or the children of immigrants.
Since questions regarding views on immigration were not included in the 2007 Religious Landscape Study, this data cannot be correlated to prior views from these diverse religious groups.
Results of the report come from the massive 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study, comprising a nationally representative telephone survey of 35,071 U.S. adults.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome