From Tom McKay’s article about the study: “Fifty-eight percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Islam” thanks to a “laundry list of misinformation about the faith’s holy text, the Quran.” He continues:
But a recent project by data analyst and research marketer Tom Anderson turns one common misconception on its head: that the Quran is more consumed by blood thirst than the Christian Bible. … Of the three books [Old Testament, New Testament, Quran], the project found, the Old Testament is the most violent, with approximately 5.3% of the text referring to “destruction and killing” — the Quran clocked in at just 2.1%, with the New Testament slightly higher at 2.8%.
According to Anderson, the findings challenge the popular notion among Westerners that Muslims subscribe to a particularly violent faith. Indeed, he concluded, “of the three texts, the content in the Old Testament appears to be the most violent.”
So this study suggests what Islam’s apologists have long claimed: that the Bible contains more violence and bloodshed than the Quran. That said, the intelligence and sincerity of anyone — including supposed scholars — citing this fact as proof that the Quran cannot incite violence more than the Bible is doubtful. For starters, this argument fundamentally ignores the context in which violence appears in all three scriptures.
Comparing violence in the Bible — both Old and New Testaments — with violence in the Quran conflates history with doctrine. The majority of violence in the Bible is recorded as history; a description of events. Conversely, the overwhelming majority of violence in the Quran is doctrinally significant. The Quran uses open-ended language to call on believers to commit acts of violence against non-Muslims. (See “Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam?” for my most comprehensive and documented treatment of this tired apologia.)
This study also fails to consider who is behind the violence. It simply appears to count the number of times violent language appears. Due to this, New Testament descriptions of Christians — including Christ — being persecuted and killed are supposedly equally inciting to Christians as Allah’s commandments for Muslims to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them — seize them, besiege them, and make ready to ambush them!” (Quran 9:5). This study sees no difference between the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7-8) and Allah’s words: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip” (Quran 8:12).
The claim behind this study — that “fifty-eight percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Islam” apparently because of “misinformation about the faith’s holy text, the Quran” — is a strawman argument. “Islamophobia” is based less on what Americans think about the Quran and more on the violence, terrorism, and atrocities they see and hear Muslims commit in the name of Islam on a daily basis. Ironically, the whole point of appealing to a strawman argument is that the argument itself is ironclad, even if it doesn’t address the real issue. As seen here, however, even the straw argument itself — that the Bible has more potential to incite violence than the Quran — is full of holes.
This is to say nothing of the fact that Islamic teaching is hardly limited to the Quran. Volumes of canonical (sahih) Hadith (words and deeds of Muhammad) equally inform Muslim actions. As one Muslim cleric put it:
Much of Islam will remain mere abstract concepts without Hadith. We would never know how to pray, fast, pay zakah, or make pilgrimage without the illustration found in Hadith.
As it happens, calls to anti-infidel violence in the Hadith outnumber the Quran’s.
There are other problems with this study. For example, it doesn’t seem to take into consideration that the Bible is roughly ten times longer than the Quran. Due to the study’s many shortcomings, even Anderson admits that his “analysis is superficial and the findings are by no means intended to be conclusive.” So why are several media outlets highlighting the conclusion of a study which readily admits it does not prove what its champions claim?
Apparently the politically correct conclusion — that Islam cannot be any worse than Judaism and Christianity — is all that matters here, gaping holes in methodology be damned.