'Nearly a Quarter of Germans, Italians, Brits Wouldn't Accept a Jew or Muslim in Their Family'

Pew Institute of Research study - titled 'Being a Christian in Western Europe' - surveyed around 25,000 adults across 15 countries last year

Members of the Jewish community hold a protest against Britain's opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and anti-semitism in the  Labour party, March 26, 2018
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP

A large proportion of Germans are unwilling to accept a Jewish or Muslim person in their family, according to a study by the Pew Institute of Research released on Tuesday.

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When asked "Would you be willing to accept a Jew as a family member?" 19 per cent of the respondents in Germany answered negatively, while 33 per cent said "no" to those from a Muslim background. 

The study - titled "Being a Christian in Western Europe" - surveyed around 25,000 adults across 15 countries last year, with Germany having one of the highest proportions of people not wanting Jewish family members.

Researchers found that the highest "no" values came from Britain (23 per cent), Italy (25 per cent) and Austria (21 per cent), while only 3 per cent of the Dutch and Norwegian respondents were against having Jewish family members.

The same question was asked about Muslims, and their acceptance was lower than that of Jews in all 15 countries surveyed, with a median difference of 10 percentage points.

In Italy, 12 percent of 1,804 respondents said they would unwilling to accept even a Jewish neighbor. That figure was 10 percent in Ireland and Portugal, 9 percent in the United Kingdom and 8 percent in Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

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The statement that “Jews always pursue their own interests and not the interest of the country they live in” received the highest levels of agreement in Portugal and Spain, with 36 and 31 percent of 1,501 and 1,499 respondents in those two countries, respectively. Next were Italy, Belgium and Norway, with 31, 28 and 25 percent, respectively.

The study from the US-based research center also shows that negative attitudes towards immigrants, Muslims and Jews are more common among Christians - regardless of whether or not they practice their faith - than non-denominational Western Europeans.

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According to the study, more than half of German Catholics said they were unwilling to accept Muslims as family members, while only 16 per cent of Protestants shared this view.

Carried out between April and August 2017, the study found that the number of people claiming to belong to a Christian denomination has fallen in all Western European states since 2002.

Many respondents claim their rejection of Christianity stems from disagreements with the church's views on homosexuality and abortion, their other religious teachings, or recent scandals.