More Hate Crimes Against Christians Than Muslims!

Did you know that more Christians than Muslims were victims of hate crimes in America? Did you also know that there are a lot more Christians? Oh. Never mind, then.

One of my Twitter friends just passed along Mark Hemingway‘s Examiner piece titled “Surprise: More hate crimes against Christians than against Muslims.”  It’s actually several days old, sparked by the reports of the New York cabbie by someone shouting anti-Muslim slurs.

This incident will undoubtedly be used by the media to further push the narrative that the controversy over the Mosque near Ground Zero in New York shows how Americans are bigoted against Muslims. So here’s some clarifying info from the FBI. According to the latest hate crime statistics available, there were 1,606 hate crime offenses motivated by religious bias in 2008. A closer look: 65.7 percent of them were committed against Jews. Against Muslims? 7.7 percent.

Depending on which population estimates you accept for Muslims (anywhere between 4 and 7 million), hate crimes are committed against Jews at a rate three to eight times greater than against Muslims. Yet something tells me that despite all these hard numbers — as opposed to Time’sanecdotal evidence” -  that magazine is not going to run a cover anytime soon asking, “Is America Anti-Semitic?

After 9/11, there was a quick spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes — there were 28 in 2000, then 155 in 2002. In 2008, there were 123. Even one hate crime is too many, but consider: Between 2 and 4 of every 100,000 Muslims was a hate crime victim in 2008. The murder rate in D.C. last year was about 24 for every 100,000 residents.

Another interesting data point: 4.7 percent of hate crimes in 2008 were motivated by anti-Catholic bias. Another 3.7 percent were anti-Protestant. So from a raw numbers perspective, there were more hate crimes against Christians in America in 2008 than there were against Muslims. Given our large Christian population, it’s true that each Christian is far less likely to be victimized, but the numbers still show that religious haters have not been singling out Muslims.

This is what’s known as burying the lede.  Or, less charitably, innumeracy.

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 78.4% of Americans are Christian;23% are Catholic.  Only 1.7% are Jewish and a mere 0.6% are Muslim.

If 65.7% of religiously motivated hate crimes are being perpetrated against a group comprising only 1.7% of the population, I’d say something’s out of whack.  And, while 7.7% of the crimes being committed against a group comprising only 0.6% of the population isn’t as bad, it’s still more noteworthy than the 3.7% of crimes targeting the group that’s 78.4% of the population!

Of course, the most important number in the discussion is 1,606.  In a population of 310,150,405 that amounts to a rounding error.   There’s simply not much religious-based violence in our country.  And that’s a good thing!   But, not shockingly, that which exists is virtually all directed at religions which are outside the American mainstream.  Let’s not pretend otherwise.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Religion, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Yea, I missed this angle myself. Using raw numbers to talk about this issue ignores the proportional representation of each religious group in the population……

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Speaking as a Jew (of a sort) I can say that we aren’t exactly surprised.  There is still anti-semitism as there is still racism.  It’s not something to be glib about, but on the other hand it’s not exactly Hutus and Tutsis.

  3. sam says:

    “Or, less charitably, innumeracy.”
    But it is inmuslimeracy.

  4. sam says:

    BTW, anybody know what happened to those 13 tapes that were to be released showing Rauf to be an al Aqaeda plant?

  5. TG Chicago says:

    Of course, the most important number in the discussion is 1,606.  In a population of 310,150,405 that amounts to a rounding error.

    Well, let’s not break our arm patting ourselves on the back just yet.  Let’s remember that there’s a difference between “1,606 hate crimes” and “1,606 individuals affected by hate crimes”.  The statistic is the former, but you seem to be suggesting the latter.
    If someone paints a cross on the side of a mosque (as at the link below), that is one hate crime, but it affects far more than one Muslim-American.

    And of course there is plenty of non-criminal anti-Muslim hate going around.

  6. PD Shaw says:

    So, recent developments suggest that Muslims are getting the “Jew” treatment?

  7. PD Shaw says:

    To clarify, according to the cited statistics, if the only Americans we cared about were Jewish or Muslim:

    Jews would make up 73.9% of Americans and suffer 89.5% of hate crimes;
    Muslims would make up 26.1% of Americans and suffer 10.5% of hate crimes.

  8. Rachel says:

    Something to bear in mind with the 1,606 figure is that not all bias crimes are reported to law enforcement. Also not every state has hate crimes statutes on the books, and the federal hate crimes act only became law late last year.  Really any time the numbers seem to go up or down there is a good chance it correlates with reporting that year, and not necessarily the over-all count of bias crimes.

  9. James Joyner says:

    Really any time the numbers seem to go up or down there is a good chance it correlates with reporting that year, and not necessarily the over-all count of bias crimes.

    A fair and valid point.  The reported stats are all we have, but our perception is an artifact of the data, which isn’t the same as reality.