Quick: What's the Most Diverse Religious Group in America?
- 2009 Mar 07
If you said Kabbalah, you spend too much time reading People magazine. If you said Muslim, you've probably read the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies "first comprehensive study of the Muslim American community and its habits, perspectives and beliefs."
Comprehensive is pretty much the word. Not distinguishing between native and foreign-born Muslims, the center conducted more than 300,000 national household interviews over the past year to try to coalesce the most accurate picture yet of what it means to be Muslim in America. Among the findings, as alluded to, Muslims are the most diverse religion in America in terms of ethnicity. According to the study:
Muslim Americans represent the only faith community without a majority race. They are black, white, Asian and Hispanic. African-Americans, not Arabs, make up the largest ethnic group (35 percent).
Synchronicity in play: At its annual Saviors' Day event outside Chicago this past weekend, the theme for the Nation of Islam -- previously a black nationalism Muslim movement -- was preaching the gospel of diversity, inclusion and outreach to more immigrants, Asians and Native Americans.
In addition to being diverse, Muslims also tend to be younger, and enjoy a higher employment rate than the general population:
More than a third (36 percent) of Muslim Americans are between the ages of 18 and 29, significantly more than the general public (18 percent). They are more likely than any other group to report being at work or school, with 70 percent reporting having a job, compared with the general public at 64 percent.
The fact that the majority of American Muslims are educated and employed is significant. Going on eight years after 9/11, there's still fear in some quarters that American Muslim sleeper cells exist. While the possibility can't be wholly discounted, the education and income levels of American Muslims tend to reduce that possibility.
In his online series on "why American Muslims don't blow things up," Slate's Timothy Noah delves into the Melting-Pot Theory, which pretty much asserts that smarts and good pay (along with the fact Muslims only make up about 1 percent of the population) tend to cool anti-American fervor.