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Report on views of Islam in Catholic media outlets

Washington, D.C., September, 21st, 2016 (Ignation Solidarity). A new report by the Georgetown University sheds light on American Catholics’ views of Islam, and the way Islam is discussed in Catholic publications. The Bridge Initiative is a Georgetown University research project on Islamophobia, based in the University’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

This report, “Danger & Dialogue: American Catholic Public Opinion and Portrayals of Islam,” finds that nearly half of Catholics can’t name any similarities between Catholicism and Islam, or say explicitly that there are no commonalities.
The report, which includes survey data on Catholics’ views of Muslims and interreligious dialogue, also reveals that only 14% of Catholics say they have a favorable impression of Muslims. The poll also shows that respondents who consume content from Catholic media have more unfavorable views of Muslims than those who don’t.

It also analyzed nearly 800 articles about Islam in Catholic media outlets, finding that half of the time the word “Islamic” was used in nine prominent Catholic outlets, it was in reference to the Islamic State terrorist group. The headlines of Catholic articles on Islam had a negative sentiment overall, but the outlet that mentioned Pope Francis the most in its headlines on Islam had positive sentiment.

The report also explores the 100-plus books, audio programs, and DVDs sold by Catholic publishers about Islam.

Duffner, a graduate of Georgetown University and Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, says she hopes the report’s findings can inform the work of diverse Catholics, both lay people and clergy. “We hope the report gives Catholic leaders and educators insights into how ordinary Catholics view Islam and interfaith dialogue. The report also gives Catholic outlets, bookstores, and publishing companies a broad picture of how their content is representing Islam and potentially shaping Catholics’ views.”

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