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November 8th, 2010, by Dalia Mogahed

Dalia Mogahed

View Dalia Mogahed’s Global Expert profile here.

A new Gallup study on the Islamic center close to Ground Zero in New York City shows that specific U.S. faith groups differ in their preferences about the location of the center.  The fault line falls roughly between Christian and non-Christian groups.  The majority of Catholics, Mormons, and, to a lesser degree, Protestants, believe the center should find another location. Yet, there is also a lack of consensus even within the same faith community as to the best path forward, further complicating efforts to find a solution to the disagreement that will satisfy everyone.

This suggests that the fault line in the public discourse is perhaps better drawn – not between Muslim Americans and the rest, or even between Christians and non-Christians – but between groups of Americans with differing perspectives on the issue, regardless of faith.

It may seem that the resolution is destined to leave some groups upset and disappointed while accommodating the views of others, but that presumes the public is not open to compromise. In fact, it may be possible to devise solutions that receive at least tepid support from the majority of all faith groups, thus minimizing the perception that one side or the other has “won” or “lost.” Further, it is also possible that many would accept a choice they do not name as their preferred solution as an acceptable alternative.  This suggests that a narrowing down of options may help hone in on whether a majority of Americans would perhaps support one option over another.

See the full results of the study here.

Dalia Mogahed is executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies.

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