Deep divisions in Americans' views on race, faith

Tue Sep 6, 2011 10:35am EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans are sharply divided on issues from race to religion, often along generational and partisan lines, a survey concluded on Tuesday.

The survey of nearly 2,500 Americans by a pair of Washington think tanks found sharp divisions on a host of issues, ranging from immigration policy to attitudes toward followers of other religious faiths.

"Ten years after September 11, 2001, we seem far less united as a nation," the report from the Brookings Institution and the Public Religion Research Institute said.

"The survey findings suggest that we are in the midst of a struggle over what growing religious, racial and ethnic diversity means for American politics and society, and that partisan and ideological polarization around these questions will make them difficult to resolve," it said.

One of those divides is between young and old. There are sizable gaps between seniors aged 65 and older and those aged 18 to 29 on whether to provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, support for gay marriage and favorable views of blacks, Hispanics, Muslims and atheists.

The relative tolerance of the younger "millennial" generation was seen, optimistically, as suggesting "the arc of American history will, again, bend toward inclusion," the report concluded.


The survey, which was completed during the first two weeks of August, asked how Americans felt a decade after the terror attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., and found 53 percent said the country is safer from terrorism now than it was before the attacks.

But eight in 10 believed Americans enjoy less personal freedom and seven in 10 said America is less respected in the world than before the attacks.   Continued...

<p>A protestor recites the rosary outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles July 15, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>