Study: Mosques Help Muslims Integrate Into American Political Life

A new study (pdf) by The Muslim American Public Opinion Survey (MAPOS), the largest study of Muslim Americans ever done, “finds that involvement with the mosque, and increased religiosity increases civic engagement and support for American democratic values”:

Despite the popularized idea that Muslims are radicalized around the country in mosques, we find that mosques help Muslims integrate into US society, and in fact have a very productive role in bridging the differences between Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States. This is a finding in social science that is consistent with decades of research on other religious groups such as Jews, Protestants and Catholics where church attendance and religiosity has been proven to result in higher civic engagement and support for core values of the American political system. Likewise, mosques are institutions that should be encouraged to function as centers of social and political integration in America.

One of the most significant findings was that American Muslims “with high levels of religiosity are overwhelmingly likely to believe that Islam is compatible with political participation in the United States”:

While 77% of those with the lowest levels of religiosity feel Islam is compatible with political involvement in America, 95% of those who are most religious feel Islam is compatible with American politics.

This data deals a significant blow to the arguments of people like Osama bin Laden and Frank Gaffney, who argue that “authentic” Islam is inherently anti-American and incompatible with democracy. It also suggests that Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has it wrong, and that what we really need are more mosques in this country.