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Three in Ten Secularists Fear Conservative Christians Are a Threat to Their Physical Safety

a marble relief of the last judgment, people screaming in terror.

Americans are painfully aware of the political polarization ripping the country apart, but the religious polarization might prove even more sinister and effective. A new survey from Baylor University found that three in ten non-religious people fear conservative Christians are a threat to their physical safety. Evangelicals, meanwhile, viewed Muslims and atheists as such a threat. Even without the threat of physical danger, Americans often saw members of other religions as hostile or inferior to themselves.

The Baylor study delved into the opinions of seven different religious groups: evangelicals, mainline Protestants, black Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, members of other religions, and those who identify with no religion (nones).

According to the Baylor study, 30.9 percent of nones identified conservative Christians as a "danger to our safety." Only 14.9 percent said the same of Muslims. Small minorities of nones (4.3 percent and 5.3 percent) said the same of atheists and Jews, respectively.

While no more than 6 percent of any religious group saw Jews as a threat to safety, at least 9 percent of every group identified both conservative Christians and Muslims as a threat.

Evangelicals proved the least trusting of Muslims, with 44.1 percent saying members of the Islamic faith represented a "danger to our physical safety." Almost a quarter of evangelicals (24.9 percent) also identified atheists as such a threat.

Nearly as many black Protestants (23.7 percent) agreed that atheists were a clear and present danger, while only 17.8 percent said the same of Muslims. Fewer black Protestants (9.2 percent) viewed conservative Christians as a threat than did evangelicals (9.9 percent).

Interestingly, mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics shared similar attitudes toward other religious groups. Nearly a quarter of mainliners (22.3 percent) and even more Catholics (22.7 percent) identified Muslims as a threat, while a substantial number of both mainliners (14.2 percent) and Catholics (15.6 percent) said atheists were a safety concern. About one in ten mainliners (13.7 percent) and one in ten Catholics (10.3 percent) said the same of conservative Christians, while a tiny minority were afraid of Jews (2.5 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively).

Jews and members of other religions proved less frightened of danger from other religious groups. Those who identified as Jewish were actually the least likely to fear danger from Muslims (13.1 percent) and the second most likely (after nones) to fear conservative Christians (20.7 percent).

Members of other religions were also most afraid of conservative Christians (19.9 percent), while some also expressed fears of Muslims (14.1 percent), atheists (8.7 percent), and Jews (2.1 percent).

Overall, Americans proved most afraid of Muslims (25.6 percent), but large numbers also listed atheists (15.6 percent) and conservative Christians (15.5 percent) as dangers to safety.