Study finds civic engagement is higher among mosquegoers

March 10, 2011

Research by a political science professor shows that affiliation with
a mosque increases Muslims' civic engagement. "The more religious
American Muslims happen to be, the more they participate in American
politics," said Karam Dana, who teaches at Tufts University.

Dana
and colleague Matt A. Barreto in 2008 completed the largest-ever survey
of American Muslims, asking them, among other questions, whether Islam
and the American political system are compatible.

Of those Muslims
who do not regularly go to a mosque, 77 percent replied yes to the
question of compatibility, Dana said. Among those who are regularly
involved in a mosque, that figure rose to 95 percent.

These
findings appear to contradict assumptions underpinning the hearings that
Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) convened in mid-March as chairman of the
House Homeland Security Committee, Dana said.

Dana noted that King
in 2004 stated that the vast majority of American mosques were
controlled by Islamic extremists and amounted to "an enemy living
amongst us," and that King in 2007 bemoaned the number of mosques in the
nation because they bred "homegrown" terrorists.

Like other
religious institutions in the United States, mosques have actually
helped members assimilate into society and support democracy, he said.

"Decades
of scholarship on religious institutions, be they churches or
synagogues, have shown that they foster participation in the political
system," said Dana. "We believe that mosques are no different."  —RNS

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