The Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University has provided a study on Catholic attitudes toward Islam and Muslims that is exemplary in its honesty and transparency.
But the methodology and findings are not limited to Roman Catholic community. Because this study is grounded in rigorous social scientific research methods, the report serves as a baseline, now and in the future, for both American Catholics and other religious communities in the U.S.
There are no cover-ups, no sugar-coatings, and no self-interested spins in the 70-page Danger and Dialogue: American Catholic Public Opinion and Portrayals of Islam. It reports the discouraging findings as well as well as signs of encouragement and hope for Roman Catholics.
The discoveries in Danger and Dialogue have practical importance for the future. It reveals what works and what doesn’t. Informed interfaith dialogue and personal interaction matter. The one-dimensional way in which religious and secular media covers Muslims has consequences. But so does religious leadership: in regards to the idea of “loving our neighbors,” Pope Francis has moved hearts with his words, and mountains with his actions.
It takes courage to engage in this kind of self-examination, particularly on a topic as contentious as this one. But this kind of courage is exactly what is needed if people of faith are to lead the way to mutual understanding, social harmony, and effective cooperation.
Larry Greenfield, Ph.D.
Parliament of the World’s Religions