The right wing insists that there’s a war on Christianity. FBI hate crimes statistics tell a very different story, however. Far from being the victims of religiously motivated attacks, hate crimes against protestants are almost non-existent, while crimes against Jews, Muslims and people of other faiths occur much more frequently, with more violent consequences.
According to the most recent FBI hate crimes statistics (2013), most hate crimes in the United States are not religiously motivated. Almost half of all hate crimes committed in the US are racially motivated. Out of those, more than 66 percent were directed at black people. Another 11 plus percent of hate crimes are motivated by an ethnic bias, such as a bias toward Arab Americans or toward Hispanic citizens. Altogether, attacks against minorities constitute more than 77 percent of all hate crimes in the US.
But we know that it’s white America that’s really under attack, right? At least that’s what they keep telling us on Fox News.
Anti-gay violence is the second most commonly occurring type of hate crime in the United States. Contrary to the right wing narrative that Christians are under attack by the gays, the list of violent crimes committed against the LGBT community speaks for itself. Where are the incidents of gays attacking Christians? They do not exist.
Finally, we get to the third most commonly occurring hate crime in the United States. Those are crimes committed because of a religious bias.
This is where we should see evidence of the war on Christianity.
As you can see from the chart above, about 17.4 percent of all hate crimes are religiously motivated.
Attacks against Jewish citizens are the most common religiously motivated attacks. Hate crimes against people of the Jewish faith constitute about 60 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes in the US. Anti-Semitism is promoted and disseminated by right wing extremist groups such as the American Nazi Party, the KKK, the Christian Identity church, and a growing number of leaders in the mainstream conservative Christian community. Anti-Semitism is pushed by right wing conspiracy theorists, who claim a link between the ‘secret society of the Illuminati’ and the Jews. There are conspiracy theories about everything from the Jews and abortion to the Jews and Hollywood, ideas which are peddled by the likes of Alex Jones and Glen Beck. Many of these same groups spread the misinformation about minorities and members of the LGBT community, as well.
The second group that is attacked most often because of their faith includes people who practice the Islamic faith. 13 percent of all religiously motivated attacks are committed against Islamic citizens. That number is 5 times higher today than it was before 9/11.
A study conducted by the Center For American Progress links a rise in Islamophobic attacks against Muslims with an increase in anti-Muslim propaganda, which is spread directly by the right wing ‘Christian’ community.
Since 2001, nearly $60 million has been spent by just six individuals, who disseminate the kind of anti-Muslim propaganda that incites violence and leads to religiously motivated attacks on the Muslim community. Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz, David Yerushalmi, Frank Gaffney, Robert Spencer and Steven Emerson, have spent a huge amount of money in order to convince US Christians that they are the ones under attack. A network of organizations, politicians and media pundits help these six men disseminate anti-Islam rhetoric. This interactive website, based on Center For American Progress study titled ‘Fear Inc.‘ provides a good look at the politicians, pundits and organizations that are involved in the Islamophobic Network.
The third most common type of religiously motivated attacks in the US consists of attacks against people who practice a religion other than Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. The victims might be Buddhist, Hindu, or practice some other religion that doesn’t have enough followers in the US to warrant a category of its own. In spite of the fact that only about 2 percent of the population practices a faith other than the “big three,” attacks against these people make up about 11-and-a-half percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes.
There are dozens of right wing hate groups that are aggressively anti-Catholic, including the KKK.
Attacks against people of the Catholic faith made up 6.1 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes. Anti-Catholic sentiments among protestants have been on-going since the reformation. The right wing upped the attacks against members of the Catholic faith, after Pope Francis was sworn in March of 2013. In November, the Washington Post reported that groups of protestant ‘Christians’ had descended on services at several Catholic churches, disrupting mass by storming inside the churches, shouting through bullhorns and handing out fundamentalist literature. Rev. Mike Jones of St. Pius Catholic told the Washington Post:
“We don’t have to go to the other side of the world to experience religious extremists.
“We were assaulted by shouting and hatred being spewed by protesters standing at both our driveways. Armed with megaphones and brandishing signs, these ‘christians’ ranted for more than 30 minutes about everything they view as ‘evils’ of our Catholic faith. They attacked our dogmas, teachings, practices and leaders, including Pope Francis! Who are they? We don’t yet know.”
According to Pew Research, more than 78 percent of people in the US say they’re Christian. Of those, more than 50 percent are protestant and just under 24 percent are Catholic. Yet, attacks against Catholics occur almost twice as often as attacks against protestants, the group that consistently claims to be under attack in the United States.
Attacks against protestant Christians made up just 3.8 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes. Yet, all we hear about is this supposed “war on Christianity.”
This chart from the Washington Post provides a visual reality check. If you were to stack the bars representing each group that is not protestant Christian on top of each other, and then compare that single bar to the small bar representing protestant Christians, then you’d have an even better representation of the non-existent war on Christianity.
A closer look at the hate crime data shows that in far more cases than not, right wing Christians are the instigators or even the perpetrators of a very large majority of the hate crimes committed in the US.
The ‘war on Christianity’ is a propaganda war. It’s a war that is being waged in the minds of the people who listen to hate radio and watch Fox News. In 2013 there were 7,242 hate crimes committed in the US. In total, crimes against protestant Christians amounted to .0051 percent, a tiny fraction of a percentage point.
Right wing fear and hate-mongering makes people believe that they’re under attack, when it’s clear that they’re not. It makes them believe that others are threatening them, even when the facts tell a very different story. A large compilation of research released over the summer showed that conservatives have a much larger negativity bias than other people. The research also showed that conservatives also have a greater tendency to ‘perceive threats,’ whether real or imaginary.
The question of whether it is nature or nurture is hard to answer. Are conservatives naturally fearful, even paranoid? Do they gravitate toward right wing media because of some trait or traits that they were born with? Or does being exposed to right wing media on a regular basis actually cause increased feelings of fear, along with exaggerated perception of threats?
If you listen to right wing radio or expose your brain to Fox News on a regular basis, and if you believe that everything you’re told is the “God’s truth” you would quickly start to also believe that almost everyone in the world is out to get you – from liberals to atheists, to the illuminati, to lizard people and possibly even big foot. The world is a great big giant conspiracy, run by the corrupt, God-hating government. Education is a liberal plot to destroy America and reading or listening to anything that isn’t generated and endorsed by the right wing is equal to risking your immortal soul’s damnation.
A quick search of youtube will give you an idea just how often the right wing media pushes the “war on Christianity” narrative to their followers.
Since other studies have demonstrated that low intelligence adults tend to gravitate to conservative ideology, it makes sense that some people just don’t have the mental capacity to think critically about the things they see, hear, or read. That makes them victims of the right wing misinformation network. But the fact that they may be victims, doesn’t make them any less dangerous to society.
There’s no doubt that there are many people on the right who absolutely believe there is a war on Christianity. What the statistics show us, however, is that the attacks are being waged by the right, not against them. It’s a perpetual cycle. The more they believe that everyone else is out to get them, the more they will continue to attack others in what they perceive as “self-defense,” or “patriotism” or even service to God.
*Featured image credit: video screen capture, Fox News via Mass Tea Party on youtube