- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2023

Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism are each positively viewed by Americans, survey results reveal, but individual denominations within Christianity fare less well in public opinion, the YouGov survey showed.

Overall, Christianity has a net “favorability score” of +33 — the highest of any religion surveyed — with 51% viewing Christianity either “very” or “somewhat” favorably and 18% “very” or “somewhat” unfavorably.

The rest either viewed Christianity neutrally or were not sure.

The positive number drops to +15 for “Protestantism” overall, as the Amish have a positive +11 score, Catholicism clocks in at +10, and Presbyterians at +8. The Church of God in Christ, Lutheranism and Methodism each scored +5 favorability ratings, while Anglicanism and the Episcopal Church came in at +3.

Judaism has a net favorability score of +10 — 27% viewing it favorably and 17% unfavorably — while Buddhism scored +11 — 31% versus 20%.

Nonbelief isn’t viewed favorably: agnostics had an unfavorable score of -4, and atheism came in at -13.

Islam had a -24 net favorability rating, which was lower than Wicca (-15), Sikhism (-8), and Falun Gong or Unitarian Universalism (-10 each).

But that wasn’t the bottom.

The religions viewed most unfavorably are the Church of Scientology and Satanism. Each had net favorability scores of -48. Satanism scored a 10% favorable rating versus 58% who rated the religion unfavorably. For Scientology, the numbers were 11% and 59%, respectively.

Several Christian groups had negative perception scores. The Southern Baptist Convention, which has dealt with a rash of sexual abuse revelations in the past two years, has a -5 score, and the National Baptist Convention scored -6.

Several Christian groups that started in the United States had “very unfavorable” ratings from those who responded to the survey.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was viewed as “very unfavorable” by 19%, while the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — a splinter group that maintains the mainstream LDS Church’s former teachings on polygamy — scored even “higher,” with 23% viewing it “very” unfavorably.

Jehovah’s Witnesses drew a 23% very unfavorable rating, while Christian Science was viewed similarly by 21% of those surveyed.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, whose North American headquarters are in Columbia, Maryland, drew a 14% score in that category.

The YouGov poll comes on the heels of a 2022 survey by Lifeway Research that said most Americans wouldn’t rule out attending a church because of its denominational affiliation.

However, more than half of those who responded to that survey said they wouldn’t visit a church with “Pentecostal” in the name.

Presbyterian, Assemblies of God and Southern Baptist congregations would get a pass from 46% of those responding to that Lifeway poll.

YouGov conducted its survey of 1,000 U.S. adults between Nov. 22 and Nov. 26. The poll had a margin of error at approximately 3%.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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