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Most Americans view mainline religious groups favorably, survey says

March 15 (UPI) -- Americans hold a favorable view of some of the country's largest religious groups but have a negative view of Muslims, according to a new poll by Pew Research.

Thirty-five percent of poll respondents said that they had a somewhat or very favorable view of Jews, while just 6% said they had an unfavorable view. Fifty-eight percent of people said they had neither.

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Protestants also had a net favorability rating of 20 points, and Catholics had a net favorability rating of 16 points. However, these groups are also largely represented as Pew notes.

"The patterns are affected in part by the size of the groups asked about, since people tend to rate their own religious group positively," the Pew report said. "This means that the largest groups -- such as Catholics and evangelical Christians -- get a lot of favorable ratings just from their own members."

However, just 17 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Muslims, compared with 22 percent of Americans who have an unfavorable view. Only Mormons were rated more unfavorably, with a net unfavorability rating of 10 points.

Americans also have an unfavorable view of atheists, even though more people today say they know atheists.

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"In 2019, 65% of Americans reported that they knew an atheist; in the new survey, 71% say the same," Pew said.

Overall Pew found that, knowing someone who is from a particular group, leads people to have a more positive view of that group as a whole.

"Across the board, those who know someone from a religious group (but are not members of that group themselves) are more likely than those who do not know someone in the group to offer an opinion of the group -- and usually to express more positive feelings," Pew said.

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