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If a Muslim blows up a building in the name of Islam, is the terrorist a “true” believer? 37% of Americans would take him at his word that he really is a follower of Islam.

If a Christian shoots an abortion doctor in the name of Jesus, is he a “true” Christian? Nah. Only 19% of Americans would agree with that label.

That double standard is the focus of a new PRRI survey:


Three-quarters (75 percent) of the public say that self-described Christians who commit acts of violence in the name of Christianity aren’t really Christian, while half (50 percent) of the public say the same about people who claim to be Muslim and commit religiously-motivated violence. Fewer than four in ten (37 percent) say that such people are actually Muslim, while 13 percent are uncertain.

The hypocrisy is evident regardless of political party (though it’s more exaggerated for Republicans). In fact, the percentages got close to matching only when the survey singled out participants who were religiously unaffiliated.


There’s an argument to be made, of course, that people who commit violence in the name of either religion aren’t interpreting their holy scriptures correctly. But that’s not what this is about. This is about whether people who say they’re committing violence in the name of a particular religion ought to be believed. And there’s no reason to give Christians a pass on this when you’re willing to lump all self-proclaimed radical Muslims together.

(Thanks to Jon for the link)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.