Today, another installment in our monthly series, Living Questions, in which we examine the role of religion in the public sphere.
Our focus today is on Islamophobia, particularly as it pertains to American Catholics. Only 14% of Catholics have a favorable view of Muslims. Are Catholics more pre-disposed to be Islamophobic than adherents to other faiths? While the mass media often portray Muslims in a negative light, it appears that Catholic media do so even more frequently. Is it a matter of bias, or bad reporting? And what about the role of church leaders? Pope Francis has garnered a reputation as one of the most open and inclusive pontiffs in history. What is his message about Muslims, and is his flock getting it?
Those questions are at the core of a new report, Danger and Dialogue: American Catholic Public Opinion and Portrayals of Islam, published by Georgetown University's Bridge Initiative, a multi-year research and communication project that's based at the University's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Joining Tom in the studio to discuss the report's findings is author Jordan Denari Duffner, a research fellow at the Bridge Initiative. Also joining us by phone are Father Michael Calabria, a Franciscan friar and director of the Center for Arab & Islamic Studies at St. Bonaventure University in upstate New York, and Dr. Jerusha Lamptey, Associate Professor of Islam and Ministry at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.