Majority Disapproves Of Supreme Court’s Decision To Overturn Roe V. Wade

A majority of Americans disapprove of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling overturning the Roe v. Wade decision, which had guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion for nearly 50 years. Public support for legal abortion remains largely unchanged since before the decision, with 62% saying it should be legal in all or most cases.

Nearly six-in-ten adults (57%) disapprove of the court’s sweeping decision, including 43% who strongly disapprove. About four-in-ten (41%) approve of the court’s decision (25% strongly approve).

Partisan differences on the legality of abortion have widened in recent years, and Republicans and Democrats are sharply divided in their initial views of the court’s decision.

About eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (82%) disapprove of the court’s decision, including nearly two-thirds (66%) who strongly disapprove. Most Republicans and Republican leaners (70%) approve of the court’s ruling; 48% strongly approve.

The new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted among 6,174 Americans between June 27 and July 4 on the nationally representative American Trends Panel, finds that most women (62%) disapprove of the decision to end the federal right to an abortion. More than twice as many women strongly disapprove of the court’s decision (47%) as strongly approve (21%). Opinion among men is more closely divided: 52% disapprove (37% strongly), while 47% approve (28% strongly).

The court’s decision to overturn Roe gives the states the authority to set their own abortion policies. These laws vary widely, and in several cases, state laws that prohibit or place tight restrictions on access to abortion are currently facing legal challenges.

The survey finds that adults living in the 17 states where abortion is newly largely prohibited (or where prohibitions are set to take effect soon) are divided in opinions about the court’s decision to overturn Roe: 46% approve of the court’s decision, while slightly more (52%) disapprove. 

Opinion also is divided among adults in the four states that have new gestational restrictions on abortion in effect (or set to soon take effect) but have not prohibited it outright: 52% in these states disapprove of the court’s decision, while 47% approve. The balance of opinion is similar in the nine states where the status of the state’s abortion laws are uncertain (in which further action may be taken in the near term by state governors, legislatures or public referendum).

In the 20 states (plus the District of Columbia) where abortions are legal through at least 24 weeks of pregnancy, 65% disapprove of the court’s decision, including half who strongly disapprove. About a third of adults in these states approve of the court’s decision (34%), with just 19% strongly approving.

The survey finds that a majority of adults nationally (62%) say abortion should be legal in all (29%) or most cases (33%); 36% say it should be illegal in all (8%) or most cases (28%). These views are little changed since March.

The partisan divide in abortion opinions remains wide. In the new survey, 84% of Democrats say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 38% of Republicans.

While the share of Democrats who favor legal abortion in either all or most cases has changed only modestly since March (from 80%), there has been a 7 percentage point increase in the share of Democrats saying abortion should be legal in all cases, from 38% to 45%; currently, a larger share of Democrats say it should be legal in all cases than say it should be legal in most cases (45% vs. 38%).

There has been virtually no change in Republicans’ views since earlier this year; a 60% majority say abortion should be illegal in most (48%) or all cases (13%).

Majorities in many demographic groups disapprove of decision to overturn Roe v. Wade; clear majority of White evangelicals approve

Americans’ opinions about the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – which ended the long-standing federal guarantee to abortion – differ widely by race and ethnicity, age, education, and religion.

Majorities of Asian American, Black, Hispanic and White adults disapprove of the decision, but opposition is most pronounced among Asian (72% disapprove) and Black adults (67%). Smaller shares of White (55%) and Hispanic adults (56%) disapprove.

The youngest adults are more likely than older people to disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion. About two-thirds of adults under the age of 30 (69%) say they disapprove of the decision – including 55% who strongly disapprove. While 60% of those ages 30 to 49 also disapprove, those 50 and older are divided (51% disapprove, 48% approve).

Two-thirds of adults with a postgraduate degree say they disapprove of the Court’s decision, with a majority (55%) saying they strongly disapprove. Nearly six-in-ten adults with a college degree or some college experience (60% each) say they disapprove of the decision. Among those with a high school degree or less, views are nearly evenly divided: 48% approve and 50% disapprove.

Among religious groups, 71% of White Evangelical Protestants approve of the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, including a 54% majority who strongly approve. Just 27% say they disapprove.

By contrast, White Protestants who are not evangelical are more divided in their views. About half (47%) say they approve of this decision, including 28% who strongly approve. A similar share (52%) say they disapprove, including four-in-ten who strongly disapprove. Catholics are similarly divided: 48% approve of the decision and 51% disapprove.

About two-thirds of Black Protestants (68%) disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision, including roughly half (48%) who strongly disapprove. About three-in-ten (29%) say they approve of the decision.

Similarly, a large majority of religiously unaffiliated adults (77%) disapprove of the court’s decision, with 63% saying they strongly disapprove. About two-in-ten (22%) approve.

Adults who are not married or living with a partner are 10 percentage points more likely to say they disapprove of the decision than those who are married or living with a partner (64% vs. 53%, respectively).

While women (62%) are more likely than men (52%) to disapprove of the Supreme Court decision on abortion, the gender gap varies by race and ethnicity. Among White adults, a 62% majority of women disapprove of the court’s decision, compared with 47% of White men. By contrast, comparable shares of Black men (66%) and women (69%) and Hispanic men (59%) and women (54%) disapprove.

While Republicans and Republican-leaning independents approve of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, there is variation in the extent to which subgroups of Republicans – particularly by gender and age – approve of the decision.

Among Republican women, 63% approve of the decision, while 36% disapprove. By comparison, 76% of GOP men approve and 23% disapprove. Roughly eight-in-ten Democratic and Democratic-leaning men (83%) and women (81%) disapprove of the decision.

A slim majority (56%) of Republicans under the age of 30 approve of the court’s decision, while 43% say they disapprove. Older Republicans are more likely to approve of the decision. Among those ages 30 to 49, 64% approve, while 35% disapprove. And nearly eight-in-ten Republicans 50 and older (78%) approve of the decision, while just 22% disapprove. Sizable majorities of Democrats across all age groups – 80% or more – disapprove of the decision.

However, while large majorities of White, Black and Hispanic Democrats disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, opposition is higher among White Democrats (89% disapprove) than among Black (74%) or Hispanic Democrats (69%).

Americans’ views of abortion

The wide differences in support for legal abortion across race and ethnicity, educational attainment and religious groups are little changed since earlier this year.

About six-in-ten Americans (62%) say abortion should be legal in all (29%) or most (33%) cases. Around a third of the public (36%) says abortion should be illegal in all (8%) or most (28%) cases.

Two-thirds of women (66%) say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, compared with a narrower majority (57%) of men.

About seven-in-ten Black (71%) and Asian (78%) adults say abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Smaller majorities among White (60%) and Hispanic (61%) adults also say this.

Younger adults are more supportive of legal abortion than older adults. Seven-in-ten adults ages 18 to 29 say abortion should be legal in all or most cases (including 41% who say it should be legal in all cases), as do 64% of those 30 to 49. Among those 50 and older, 57% say abortion should be legal in at least most cases.

Americans with postgraduate degrees are particularly likely to say abortion should be legal in at least most cases; 72% say this, as do 65% of those with college degrees and an identical share (65%) of those with some college experience but no degree. Adults with a high school degree or less education (55%) are the least likely to say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

There are wide gaps across religious groups in views of abortion. An overwhelming share of religiously unaffiliated adults (83%) support abortion being legal in all or most cases, as do six-in-ten Catholics. Overall, Protestants are divided in their views (48% legal in all or most cases, 50% illegal in all or most cases): About three-quarters of White evangelicals say abortion should be illegal in all (20%) or most cases (53%), while majorities of Black Protestants (71%) and White non-evangelical Protestants (61%) take the position that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Americans who are married or living with a partner are somewhat less supportive of legal access to abortion (59%) than those who are not married or living with a partner (67%). There is a similar gap between parents and people who do not have any children (67% of non-parents say abortion should be legal in all or most cases vs. 59% of parents).

About three-quarters of conservative Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (73%) say abortion should be illegal in all (16%) or most (56%) cases. By contrast, a majority of moderate and liberal Republicans (60%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

About three-quarters (77%) of conservative and moderate Democrats say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do roughly nine-in-ten liberal Democrats (92%). However, liberal Democrats (59%) are much more likely than conservative and moderate Democrats (34%) to say abortion should be legal in all cases.

Americans’ Views On Abortion, 1995-2022

While public support for legal abortion has fluctuated some in two decades of polling, it has remained relatively stable over the past several years. Currently, 61% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Views on abortion by religious affiliation, 2022

About three-quarters of White evangelical Protestants (74%) think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

By contrast, 84% of religiously unaffiliated Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 66% of Black Protestants, 60% of White Protestants who are not evangelical, and 56% of Catholics.

Views on abortion by party identification, 2022

Six-in-ten Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party (60%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. By contrast, 80% of Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic Party say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Views on abortion by political party and ideology, 2022

Conservative Republicans and Republican leaners are far more likely to say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases than to say that it should be legal (72% vs. 27%). Among moderate and liberal Republicans, 60% say abortion should be legal, while 38% say it should be illegal.

The vast majority of liberal Democrats and Democratic leaners support legal abortion (90%), as do seven-in-ten conservative and moderate Democrats (72%).

Views on abortion by gender, 2022

Majorities of both men and women express support for legal abortion, though women are somewhat more likely than men to hold this view (63% vs. 58%).

Views on abortion by race and ethnicity, 2022

Majorities of adults across racial and ethnic groups express support for legal abortion. About three-quarters of Asian (74%) and two-thirds of Black adults (68%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 60% of Hispanic adults and 59% of White adults.

Views on abortion by age, 2022

Among adults under age 30, 74% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do  62% of adults in their 30s and 40s. Among those in their 50s and early 60s, 55% express support for legal abortion, as do 54% of those ages 65 and older.

Views on abortion by level of education, 2022

Two-thirds of college graduates (66%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 63% of those with some college education. Among those with a high school degree or less education, 54% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 44% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Source:  The PEW Survey conducted March 7-13, 2022. Trend lines show aggregated data from polls conducted in each year. Data from 2019 and later come from Pew Research Center’s online American Trends Panel; prior data from telephone surveys. See report for more details on changes in survey mode. Question wording can be found here, and information on the Pew Research Center’s polling methodology can be found here. White, Black and Asian adults include those who report being one race and are not Hispanic. Hispanics are of any race. Estimates for Asian adults are representative of English speakers only.

Majority Republicans Want Trump To Retain Major Role; 44% Want Him To Run Again

Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they would like to see former President Donald Trump continue to be a major political figure for many years to come, including 44% who say they would like him to run for president in 2024, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted Sept. 13 to 19.

About one-in-five Republicans (22%) say that while they would like Trump to continue to be a major political figure in the United States, they would prefer he use his stature to support another presidential candidate who shares his views in the 2024 election rather than run for office himself. About a third of Republicans (32%) say they would not like Trump to remain a national political figure for many years to come.

How we did this The share of Republicans who say Trump should continue to be a major national figure has grown 10 percentage points – from 57% to 67% – since a January survey that was conducted in the waning days of his administration and in the immediate wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Views among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are essentially unchanged over this time period. Today, 92% of Democrats say they would not like to see Trump continue to be a major national political figure in the future, while just 7% say they would like to see this. Among Republicans, views on whether Trump should continue to be a major political figure or run for office in the next presidential election vary by age, education and ideology.

For example, 72% of Republicans with some college experience or less (who make up a clear majority of Republicans) say Trump should be a major figure, with half saying he should run for president in 2024. By contrast, a narrower majority (54%) of Republicans with a college degree or more say Trump should remain a prominent figure, including just 28% who say he should run for office in the next presidential election.

Among conservative Republicans, there is widespread support for Trump remaining a national political figure: Three-quarters prefer this, including 49% who say he should run for president again in 2024. Moderate and liberal Republicans are more divided: 51% say he should play an ongoing political role, with 33% saying he should run for president himself in 2024; 47% say he should not continue to play a major political role. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans say their party should not be accepting of elected officials who criticize Trump

A 63% majority of Republicans say their party should be not too (32%) or not at all (30%) accepting of elected officials who openly criticize Trump, according to the new survey. Just 36% of Republicans say the GOP should be very (11%) or somewhat (26%) accepting of officials who do so. By contrast, about six-in-ten Democrats say the Democratic Party should be very (17%) or somewhat accepting (40%) of Democratic elected officials who openly criticize President Joe Biden.

Majorities of Republicans and Democrats alike say their party should be accepting of elected officials who agree with the other party on important issues. Two-thirds of Democrats say the Democratic Party should be accepting of Democratic officials who agree with the GOP on important issues. A slimmer majority of Republicans (55%) say the GOP should be accepting of officials who agree with Democrats on some important issues. The survey also asked about the acceptability of elected officials from one party calling their counterparts in the other party “evil.” A majority of Democrats (57%) and about half of Republicans (52%) say their parties should be not too or not at all accepting of officials who do this.

About four-in-ten Democrats (41%) say their party should be accepting of elected officials in their own party who call GOP officials evil, with 13% saying their party should be very accepting of this. Among Republicans, 46% say their party should be accepting of officials who call their Democratic counterparts evil, including 18% who say the party should be very accepting of these officials. The share of Republicans who say their party should be accepting of elected officials who openly criticize Trump has declined since March. Today, 36% of Republicans say it is at least somewhat acceptable for Republican elected officials to openly criticize Trump, down from 43% earlier this year.

There has also been a decline in the share of Democrats who say their party should be accepting of Democratic elected officials who openly criticize Biden. A narrow majority of Democrats (57%) say this is acceptable, down from 68% in March.

Biden Loses Ground With On Issues, Personal Traits And Job Approval

It’s been a very rough last two months for President Joe Biden, plagued by a disastrous end to the war in Afghanistan and the Delta variant of the coronavirus rampaging through the unvaccinated. Those twin developments have badly eroded Americans’ view of the President, according to new Gallup numbers released this week. Biden’s job approval now sits at just 43% while a majority — 53% — disapprove of how he has handled his duties.

It’s been a rapid descent for Biden. As late as June, 56% approved of how he was doing while only 40% disapproved. The decline began in July (50% approve/46% disapprove) and in August roughly the same number approved (49%) as disapproved (48%). The decline in Biden’s numbers is almost entirely attributable to independents souring on him. In June, 55% of those not affiliated with either party approved of how Biden was handling the presidency. Today that number sits at just 37%. As Gallup’s Megan Brenen notes: “Two-thirds of Biden’s slide among independents since he took office has occurred in the past three months.” (Partisans have been remarkably consistent; Roughly 9 in 10 Democrats approved of Biden’s presidency while single-digit percentages of Republicans feel the same.)

Biden’s struggles of late put him in company he would prefer not to keep: Only Donald Trump — at 37% — among recent presidents had a lower approval rating at this point of their presidency. Both Barack Obama (52%) and George W. Bush (51%) had the approval of a majority of the country in September of their first year in the White House.

Biden’s polling ebb could not come at a worse time for his presidency. Right now, Congress is embroiled in a series of critical fights — most notably over a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion budget bill, which, taken together, form the crux of Biden’s entire first-term agenda. There’s also consternation — and confusion — over raising the debt limit and funding the government.

All of these crises would be more manageable for Biden if he was in a stronger position with the American public. If, say, he was at 55% or even 60% approval, Biden’s ability to cajole warring moderate and liberal forces in the House would be significantly higher. All politicians are aware of the leverage I(or lack thereof) that a president has over them — and act accordingly.

The other purely political problem that Biden’s declining numbers creates is that Democrats in swing districts and states start to get very jumpy when they see the incumbent president of their party struggling in the polls. History tells us that the first midterm election for a president’s party is usually tough for his party in Congress. And that goes double when the president’s approval rating is below 50% — as Biden’s is now. What that likely leads to is individual Democratic members looking for ways to break with Biden in hopes of convincing their voters that there is some significant distance between themselves and Biden. (Side note: This attempted distancing almost never works.) All of it is bad for Biden and his party in Congress. The confluence of his faltering poll numbers with the single most critical week, legislatively speaking, of his presidency creates a vicious cycle that makes a positive outcome for Democrats less and less likely.

With his administration facing multiple challenges at home and abroad, President Joe Biden’s job approval rating has fallen sharply in the past two months. Fewer than half of U.S. adults (44%) now approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, while 53% disapprove. This marks a reversal in Biden’s job ratings since July, when a 55% majority approved of his job performance and 43% disapproved. Since spring, public confidence in Biden has declined across several issues. In March, majorities expressed confidence in him across six of seven dimensions, including his handling of the public health impact of the coronavirus, and foreign and economic policies. Today, about half still express confidence in his handling of the coronavirus and the economy – but majorities have little or no confidence in him in four other areas.

Positive evaluations of several of Biden’s personal traits and characteristics have shown similar decreases. Compared with March, fewer adults say Biden cares about people like them, and fewer describe him as standing up for his beliefs, honest, a good role model and mentally sharp. While opinions about Biden remain sharply divided along partisan lines, the decline in his public standing has come among members of both parties. On his job rating, for example, there has been a 13 percentage point decline in the share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who approve of Biden’s performance (from 88% in July to 75% today); only 9% of Republicans and GOP leaners approve, down from 17% two months ago.

The new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Sept. 13-19 among 10,371 adults on the Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel, finds that Biden is not the only political leader in Washington whose job ratings have fallen. Just 27% of Americans approve of GOP congressional leaders, down 5 percentage points since April. The decline in approval ratings for Democratic leaders in Congress has been even larger, from 50% to 39%.

There also are signs that the public is generally becoming more pessimistic: Just 26% say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country, down from 33% six months ago. And while views of current economic conditions remain lackluster – 26% rate them as excellent or good – expectations for the economy over the next year have become more negative than they were in the spring.

Currently, 37% of Americans say economic conditions will be worse a year from now, while 29% say things will be better; 34% expect little change. In March, more said economic conditions would improve (44%) than get worse (31%) over the next year, while 24% said conditions would be about the same as they are now. As has been the case since he took office, Biden draws more public confidence for his handling of the public health impact of the coronavirus than other issues.

About half (51%) are very or somewhat confident in his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, but that is down from 65% in March. The shares expressing confidence in Biden’s handling of economic policy, foreign policy and immigration policy also have declined.  Biden continues to draw less confidence for unifying the country than on dealing with specific issues; only about a third (34%) are confident he can bring the country closer together, a 14 percentage point decline since March.

Assessments of Biden’s personal traits also have become less positive. While majorities say he stands up for what he believes in (60%) and cares about the needs of ordinary people (54%), larger shares described Biden in these terms six months ago (66% and 62%, respectively). Biden receives his least positive assessments for being mentally sharp. Currently, 43% say this describes Biden very or fairly well, an 11-point decline since March.

Other important findings from the survey:

Majority favors admitting Afghan refugees into the U.S. A 56% majority favors admitting thousands of Afghan refugees into the U.S. while 42% are opposed. There are sizable partisan differences in these attitudes: More than twice as many Democrats (75%) as Republicans (35%) favor admitting refugees who fled Afghanistan. The Biden administration continues to receive negative ratings for its handling of the situation in Afghanistan. Only about a quarter of adults (24%) say the administration has done an excellent or good job in handling the situation with the country; 26% say it has done only fair, while nearly half (48%) rate its performance as poor.

About half favor each of the congressional infrastructure proposals. As congress prepares to take up a pair of infrastructure proposals, more Americans view each one positively than negatively. However, a quarter or more say they are not sure about the proposals (respondents are given the option of saying they are not sure).

About half of adults (51%) say they favor the bill passed by the Senate last month that would provide $1.2 trillion in funding over the next 10 years for infrastructure improvements, including roads, bridges and internet upgrades. Just 20% oppose the bill, while 29% say they are not sure.

A comparable share (49%) favors a proposed $3.5 trillion, 10-year package that includes funding for universal pre-K education, expanding Medicare, reducing carbon emissions and other projects. A quarter oppose the spending package, while a quarter are unsure.

Broad support for raising taxes on large businesses, high-income households. About two-thirds of Americans (66%) favor raising taxes on large businesses and corporations, including 37% who say taxes should be raised “a lot.” A somewhat smaller majority (61%) says tax rates should be raised on household income over $400,000; 26% say these tax rates should be raised a lot, while 35% favor raising them a little.

Rising prices a leading economic concern. A majority of adults (63%) say they are very concerned about rising prices for food and consumer goods. That is larger than the shares citing other economic issues – employers being unable to hire workers (42% very concerned), people facing eviction or foreclosure (35%) or people who want to work being unable to find jobs (29%). Republicans are more likely than Democrats to cite rising prices and a shortage of workers as top concerns; Democrats are more likely to be very concerned over evictions and foreclosures and people who want to work struggling to find jobs.

Religion In India: Tolerance And Segregation

Indians say it is important to respect all religions, but major religious groups see little in common and want to live separately. More than 70 years after India became free from colonial rule, Indians generally feel their country has lived up to one of its post-independence ideals: a society where followers of many religions can live and practice freely. India’s massive population is diverse as well as devout. Not only do most of the world’s Hindus, Jains and Sikhs live in India, but it also is home to one of the world’s largest Muslim populations and to millions of Christians and Buddhists.

A major new Pew Research Center survey of religion across India, based on nearly 30,000 face-to-face interviews of adults conducted in 17 languages between late 2019 and early 2020 (before the COVID-19 pandemic), finds that Indians of all these religious backgrounds overwhelmingly say they are very free to practice their faiths. Indians see religious tolerance as a central part of who they are as a nation. Across the major religious groups, most people say it is very important to respect all religions to be “truly Indian.” And tolerance is a religious as well as civic value: Indians are united in the view that respecting other religions is a very important part of what it means to be a member of their own religious community.

These shared values are accompanied by a number of beliefs that cross religious lines. Not only do a majority of Hindus in India (77%) believe in karma, but an identical percentage of Muslims do, too. A third of Christians in India (32%) – together with 81% of Hindus – say they believe in the purifying power of the Ganges River, a central belief in Hinduism. In Northern India, 12% of Hindus and 10% of Sikhs, along with 37% of Muslims, identity with Sufism, a mystical tradition most closely associated with Islam. And the vast majority of Indians of all major religious backgrounds say that respecting elders is very important to their faith.

Yet, despite sharing certain values and religious beliefs – as well as living in the same country, under the same constitution – members of India’s major religious communities often don’t feel they have much in common with one another. The majority of Hindus see themselves as very different from Muslims (66%), and most Muslims return the sentiment, saying they are very different from Hindus (64%). There are a few exceptions: Two-thirds of Jains and about half of Sikhs say they have a lot in common with Hindus. But generally, people in India’s major religious communities tend to see themselves as very different from others.

This perception of difference is reflected in traditions and habits that maintain the separation of India’s religious groups. For example, marriages across religious lines – and, relatedly, religious conversions – are exceedingly rare (see Chapter 3). Many Indians, across a range of religious groups, say it is very important to stop people in their community from marrying into other religious groups. Roughly two-thirds of Hindus in India want to prevent interreligious marriages of Hindu women (67%) or Hindu men (65%). Even larger shares of Muslims feel similarly: 80% say it is very important to stop Muslim women from marrying outside their religion, and 76% say it is very important to stop Muslim men from doing so.

Moreover, Indians generally stick to their own religious group when it comes to their friends. Hindus overwhelmingly say that most or all of their close friends are also Hindu. Of course, Hindus make up the majority of the population, and as a result of sheer numbers, may be more likely to interact with fellow Hindus than with people of other religions. But even among Sikhs and Jains, who each form a sliver of the national population, a large majority say their friends come mainly or entirely from their small religious community.

Fewer Indians go so far as to say that their neighborhoods should consist only of people from their own religious group. Still, many would prefer to keep people of certain religions out of their residential areas or villages. For example, many Hindus (45%) say they are fine with having neighbors of all other religions – be they Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist or Jain – but an identical share (45%) say they would not be willing to accept followers of at least one of these groups, including more than one-in-three Hindus (36%) who do not want a Muslim as a neighbor. Among Jains, a majority (61%) say they are unwilling to have neighbors from at least one of these groups, including 54% who would not accept a Muslim neighbor, although nearly all Jains (92%) say they would be willing to accept a Hindu neighbor.

Indians, then, simultaneously express enthusiasm for religious tolerance and a consistent preference for keeping their religious communities in segregated spheres – they live together separately. These two sentiments may seem paradoxical, but for many Indians they are not.

Indeed, many take both positions, saying it is important to be tolerant of others and expressing a desire to limit personal connections across religious lines. Indians who favor a religiously segregated society also overwhelmingly emphasize religious tolerance as a core value. For example, among Hindus who say it is very important to stop the interreligious marriage of Hindu women, 82% also say that respecting other religions is very important to what it means to be Hindu. This figure is nearly identical to the 85% who strongly value religious tolerance among those who are not at all concerned with stopping interreligious marriage.

In other words, Indians’ concept of religious tolerance does not necessarily involve the mixing of religious communities. While people in some countries may aspire to create a “melting pot” of different religious identities, many Indians seem to prefer a country more like a patchwork fabric, with clear lines between groups.

The dimensions of Hindu nationalism in India

One of these religious fault lines – the relationship between India’s Hindu majority and the country’s smaller religious communities – has particular relevance in public life, especially in recent years under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP is often described as promoting a Hindu nationalist ideology. The survey finds that Hindus tend to see their religious identity and Indian national identity as closely intertwined: Nearly two-thirds of Hindus (64%) say it is very important to be Hindu to be “truly” Indian.

Most Hindus (59%) also link Indian identity with being able to speak Hindi – one of dozens of languages that are widely spoken in India. And these two dimensions of national identity – being able to speak Hindi and being a Hindu – are closely connected. Among Hindus who say it is very important to be Hindu to be truly Indian, fully 80% also say it is very important to speak Hindi to be truly Indian.

The BJP’s appeal is greater among Hindus who closely associate their religious identity and the Hindi language with being “truly Indian.” In the 2019 national elections, 60% of Hindu voters who think it is very important to be Hindu and to speak Hindi to be truly Indian cast their vote for the BJP, compared with only a third among Hindu voters who feel less strongly about both these aspects of national identity.

Overall, among those who voted in the 2019 elections, three-in-ten Hindus take all three positions: saying it is very important to be Hindu to be truly Indian; saying the same about speaking Hindi; and casting their ballot for the BJP. These views are considerably more common among Hindus in the largely Hindi-speaking Northern and Central regions of the country, where roughly half of all Hindu voters fall into this category, compared with just 5% in the South. Whether Hindus who meet all three of these criteria qualify as “Hindu nationalists” may be debated, but they do express a heightened desire for maintaining clear lines between Hindus and other religious groups when it comes to whom they marry, who their friends are and whom they live among. For example, among Hindu BJP voters who link national identity with both religion and language, 83% say it is very important to stop Hindu women from marrying into another religion, compared with 61% among other Hindu voters.

This group also tends to be more religiously observant: 95% say religion is very important in their lives, and roughly three-quarters say they pray daily (73%). By comparison, among other Hindu voters, a smaller majority (80%) say religion is very important in their lives, and about half (53%) pray daily.

Even though Hindu BJP voters who link national identity with religion and language are more inclined to support a religiously segregated India, they also are more likely than other Hindu voters to express positive opinions about India’s religious diversity. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of this group – Hindus who say that being a Hindu and being able to speak Hindi are very important to be truly Indian and who voted for the BJP in 2019 – say religious diversity benefits India, compared with about half (47%) of other Hindu voters. This finding suggests that for many Hindus, there is no contradiction between valuing religious diversity (at least in principle) and feeling that Hindus are somehow more authentically Indian than fellow citizens who follow other religions.

Among Indians overall, there is no overwhelming consensus on the benefits of religious diversity. On balance, more Indians see diversity as a benefit than view it as a liability for their country: Roughly half (53%) of Indian adults say India’s religious diversity benefits the country, while about a quarter (24%) see diversity as harmful, with similar figures among both Hindus and Muslims. But 24% of Indians do not take a clear position either way – they say diversity neither benefits nor harms the country, or they decline to answer the question. (See Chapter 2 for a discussion of attitudes toward diversity.)

India’s Muslims express pride in being Indian while identifying communal tensions, desiring segregation

India’s Muslim community, the second-largest religious group in the country, historically has had a complicated relationship with the Hindu majority. The two communities generally have lived peacefully side by side for centuries, but their shared history also is checkered by civil unrest and violence. Most recently, while the survey was being conducted, demonstrations broke out in parts of New Delhi and elsewhere over the government’s new citizenship law, which creates an expedited path to citizenship for immigrants from some neighboring countries – but not Muslims.

Today, India’s Muslims almost unanimously say they are very proud to be Indian (95%), and they express great enthusiasm for Indian culture: 85% agree with the statement that “Indian people are not perfect, but Indian culture is superior to others.” Relatively few Muslims say their community faces “a lot” of discrimination in India (24%). In fact, the share of Muslims who see widespread discrimination against their community is similar to the share of Hindus who say Hindus face widespread religious discrimination in India (21%). But personal experiences with discrimination among Muslims vary quite a bit regionally. Among Muslims in the North, 40% say they personally have faced religious discrimination in the last 12 months – much higher levels than reported in most other regions.

In addition, most Muslims across the country (65%), along with an identical share of Hindus (65%), see communal violence as a very big national problem. (See Chapter 1 for a discussion of Indians’ attitudes toward national problems.) Like Hindus, Muslims prefer to live religiously segregated lives – not just when it comes to marriage and friendships, but also in some elements of public life. In particular, three-quarters of Muslims in India (74%) support having access to the existing system of Islamic courts, which handle family disputes (such as inheritance or divorce cases), in addition to the secular court system. Muslims’ desire for religious segregation does not preclude tolerance of other groups – again similar to the pattern seen among Hindus. Indeed, a majority of Muslims who favor separate religious courts for their community say religious diversity benefits India (59%), compared with somewhat fewer of those who oppose religious courts for Muslims (50%).

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