(RNS) Christians are more likely to say a proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan should be built farther away from Ground Zero than Muslims, Jews and other non-Christians, according to a new Gallup Poll.
Park51, a proposed Islamic cultural and community center that includes space for Muslim prayers, has sparked controversy because of its proposed location a few blocks from the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Gallup asked respondents whether Park51 should be moved, built as proposed or changed into an interfaith center.
The greatest resistance to the Islamic center comes from Christians, according to the poll: three out of five Catholics and Mormons, and almost half of Protestants, said the center should be built at another location farther from Ground Zero.
In contrast, 25 percent of Jews, 42 percent of atheists, 43 percent of Muslims and 41 percent of other non-Christians said the center should be built on the proposed location.
The poll, released Monday (Nov. 8), also asked members from each religious group how much on a five-point scale they have heard about the disagreement regarding Park51.
Catholics were the most informed, with 71 percent claiming to have heard “a great deal” about the subject; the least informed were Mormons, with only 39 percent in the same category.
Gallup analysts said disagreement over where and how the center should be built persists even within some of the faith communities, which complicates finding a solution that will satisfy everyone.
“This range of views inside a single religious community suggests that the fault line in the public discourse is better drawn—not between Muslim Americans and the rest, or even between Christians and non-Christians—but between groups of Americans with differing perspectives on the issue, regardless of faith,” Gallup said in a news release.
The results were based on telephone interviews conducted between Oct. 5 and Oct. 21 with 1,729 adults who self-identified their religious affiliation. The margin of error ranged from plus or minus 9 percentage points for Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Mormons was plus to plus or minus 11 percentage points for Catholics, non-Christians and atheists.