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More Americans say religious freedom is important for Christians than for Muslims

Muslims pray at a prayer vigil in San Bernardino, California.
Muslims pray at a prayer vigil in San Bernardino, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Americans think religious freedom is important, but more said it was important to preserve it for Christians than for Muslims, according to a new poll released today by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The poll found that 82 percent of Americans said protecting religious freedom for Christians was important, compared to 61 percent who said the same for Muslims.

The gap was slightly wider among Republicans: 88 percent of Republicans said religious freedom was important for Christians, compared to 60 percent who said it was important for Muslims. But even among Democrats, only 61 percent said religious freedom for Muslims was important.

The 2016 presidential race has featured escalating fear and hatred of Muslims, including Republican frontrunner Donald Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the country. A large share of Republican voters have said they support Trump's proposal. The AP-NORC poll is the latest to find that when it comes to Muslims, many Americans believe the Constitution doesn't apply.

Go deeper:

  • The poll's findings also include less support for religious freedom for Jews and Mormons.
  • Previous polls have found that Trump's Islamophobic rhetoric resonated with many Republicans.
  • It's not just Trump: Islamophobia is on the rise in the US.
  • One reason anti-Muslim sentiment is more widespread, according to researchers: some groups have worked for years to get their ideas into the mainstream.

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