A leading political scientist finds that intolerance of opposing political views is stronger among people with the strongest religious views.
The graph illustrates this relationship. Depicted on the horizontal axis of this graph is the index of religious traditionalism, which varies from low (“0”) to high (“6”). The vertical axis is an indicator of political intolerance: the willingness — expressed as the percentages expressing intolerance of the rights of atheists — to deny one or more political rights to those “who are against all religion and churches” (typically referred to as “atheists”). The political activities on which we queried the respondents include the rights to give speeches and hold demonstrations, as well as the right to run as a candidate for public office. As the graph makes plain, as religious traditionalism increases so too does political intolerance. For instance, among the least religious, 17 percent are intolerant of the political rights of atheists, in comparison to 47 percent who express intolerance among the most religious. This relationship is statistically significant and politically potent.