Are Muslims a Distinctive Minority? An Empirical Analysis of Religiosity, Social Attitudes, and Islam


  • Acknowledgments: The authors thank David Campbell, Jocelyne Cesari, Chaeyoon Lim, Robert Putnam, Tom Sander, David Voas, and Matthew Wright for helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.

Correspondence should be addressed to Valerie A. Lewis, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth College, 35 Centerra Parkway, Lebanon, NH 03766. E-mail:


Scholarly and public discourses on Muslim immigrants in Europe have questioned if Islam is an impediment to sociocultural adaptation and whether Muslims are a distinctive group in their religiosity and social values. We use a new survey of 480 British Muslims in conjunction with the British Social Attitudes Survey to examine differences between Muslim and non-Muslim Britons on religiosity (practice, belief, salience) and moral and social issues regarding gender, abortion, and homosexuality. Muslims are more religious than other Britons, including both British Christians and religious “nones.” Muslims also are more conservative than other Britons across the range of social and moral attitudes. Multivariate analysis shows, however, that much of the difference on moral issues is due to socioeconomic disadvantage and high religiosity among Muslims. Although being a highly religious group in an otherwise secular country renders Muslims distinctive, factors that predict social conservatism among all Britons—high religiosity and low SES—apply similarly to Muslims.