Can you feel the love tonight?
Well, you ought to, because respondents in a recent Pew Research Center survey picked Jews as the people they like the best.
Using a “feeling thermometer” that started at the frozen tundra of zero and rose all the way to a super boil of 100, Jews received a fairly warm 63, not enough to head for the beach but surely no need for a jacket either.
Jews received the warmest embrace at 63, followed very closely by Catholics at 62 with evangelical Christians right at their heels at 61.
Even when Jewish respondents are removed from the survey, Jews not only are still regarded as the warmest but they also receive the fewest cold votes. That was news to Mary Starks.
“I think they still have a bad rap,” said the Rockville resident as she headed into the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington.
But the survey results made perfect sense to Eva Rubin, who was born in Germany and now lives in the Hebrew Home, a Charles E. Smith Life Community. “Of course,” she replied immediately.
“Jews are thoughtful, and they try not to hurt anybody.” Three sisters at the JCC mulled the question over among themselves. “I think it’s because we have a huge sense of community,” said Leah Prince of Baltimore.
Still, she said, “there is a lot of hatred between the sects and even within their own sects,” referring to the various Jewish movements. Kayla Prince-Stehley of Rockville thought it could be because Jews “are the most welcoming.”
Maybe it’s because Jews are known for tzedakah, said Sidney Gottlieb of Rockville. “They are just brought up that way, to be thoughtful,” explained Sylvia Handy of Silver Spring.
Pew created the survey, which was then conducted by The American Trends Panel. This survey, administered via the Internet from May 30 and June 30, included 3,217 respondents and contained a 2.2 percent margin of error.
Of those randomly selected respondents, 100 were Jewish. Alan Cooperman, director of religious research at Pew, said people often ask what religious groups think of each other and how strong anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism or anti-Mormonism is. “It’s actually a difficult question to ask,” he said.
The feeling thermometer, a method commonly used to measure feelings, produces better data than a question asking respondents if they love or hate a particular religion.
Similarly, said Cooperman, “a self-administered survey,” given out over the Internet, where people don’t have to admit their true feelings directly to anyone, brings out more honest answers.
While Jews received a 63 on the feeling thermometer, other religions fell into a more chilly range.
Buddhists received a 53, Hindus 50, Mormons 48, Atheists 41 and Muslims 40. Overall, 44 percent of respondents rated Jews at 67 or above, 44 percent rated them between 34 and 66 and a mere 10 percent gave Jews a don’t go outside it’s so clod rating of 10 or below.
Muslims received a chilly reception from 41 percent of respondents; atheists also suffered a cold shoulder by 40 percent of respondents.
Cooperman said he found it interesting that when Jewish respondents were taken out of the mix, their survey results remained the same.
However, when Catholic respondents were removed, their warmest rating dropped from 62 to 58, and when Evangelicals were removed, their rating dropped from 61 to 52.
When only Jewish respondents were examined, Jews received a thermometer rating of 89, Catholics 58, Evangelical Christians 34, Buddhists 61, Hindus 57, Mormons 48, atheists 55 and Muslims 35, according to the survey results. Muslims received a below-freezing vote, 30, from white evangelical Protestants.