What Religious “Hostility” Looks Like

Coinciding tidily with last week’s horrific shooting in the D.C. offices of the Family Research Council, and that org’s cynical attempt to parlay the near-tragedy into a larger narrative of victimization, Tony Perkins’ org has joined forces with Liberty Institute to release an “Extensive Survey” of what they describe as evidence of “religious hostility” in the U.S. (In case subtlety is lost on you, the URL is religioushostility.org.) 

What the survey amounts to is a list, 600 items long, of court cases, employee consequences, and that sort of thing, including the story of Raymond Raines, which appears to be a highly suspect, though still popular, story among persecution fetishists.

(It’s worth noting that even if the Raines story did take place as portrayed, it took place in the early 90s, quite a bit outside the 10-year survey’s parameters. You’d think, given a decade’s worth of hostility, they wouldn’t be forced to fudge the data like this.) 

But never mind that for now. Two important things to keep in mind. 

1) Every single case I could find is focused on Christians (judging only, mind you, by the couple dozen listed on the website, since the PDF download of the entire list malfunctioned). So, assuming the remaining five-hundred something are largely or exclusively focused on hostility toward Christians, the survey would more accurately be called Christian Hostility in America (which really highlights the ambiguity in the survey’s title, I think); and

2) Given the auspicious timing of a survey of items that these two orgs—and numerous others—probably have tacked to their cubicle walls on any given day, I’m tempted to ask whether this is an attempt to conflate the unambiguously awful event of a deranged shooter with decades of politicized lawsuits, misreads of the 1st Amendment, and half-truths in order to stoke the fires of the already feverish rhetoric of religious persecution.

And I’ll end with some sobering statistics for Perkins and his colleagues at Liberty Institute to contemplate:

The FBI reports on hate crimes every year, broken down by motivation. In 2010, the most recent year I could find, racism trumped religion as a motivating force, 48% to 19%.

Drill further and cries of religious hostility become even sillier. Among the 19% of hate crimes that were religion-motivated, 67% were committed against Jews. So only 1 out of 5 hate crimes had to do with religion, but even two-thirds of those were committed against a religious minority that comprises 2% of the population. Following Jews, are Muslims—also roughly 2% of the population—against whom 13% of religion-motivated hate crimes were committed. And then Catholics at 4%, followed by Protestants at 3%. In fact, at 9%, “other religions” suffered more attacks than Catholics and Protestants put together. 

It’s also worth noting, as long as we’re discussing hate and hostility, that sexual orientation was the motivation for nearly the identical number of hate crimes as all religions put together. 

Nearly 4,000 victims of racial attacks, and 1,500 each for religion and sexual orientation. And we’re talking violence committed in a single year here, not a ten-year compilation of 600 politicized lawsuits, misreads of the 1st Amendment and half-truths that actually encompass nearly 20 years. Just food for thought.