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White evangelicals most likely to say they've experienced online harassment because of their religion

White evangelicals most likely to say they've experienced online harassment because of their religion


A recent survey from the Pew Research Center found that white evangelicals are the most likely religious group to say that they have experienced harassment online for their religious views.

The survey, released Monday, was an addendum to an earlier report published on Jan. 13 that examined the state of online harassment in the United States as a whole. The new data focuses specifically on the Americans who said they have been harassed on the internet because of their religion. The survey was conducted between Sept. 8 and Sept. 13, 2020.

According to Pew, 19% of the American adults who said they had experienced online harassment attribute such harassment to their religion. Since 41% of U.S. adults claim to be victims of online harassment, the share of Americans who have experienced online harassment due to their religion amounts to 8% of the population as a whole.

Broken down by religious denomination, 29% of white evangelical Protestants said they had been targeted online for their faith, making them the most likely group to say that they experienced faith-based harassment. While 23% of Protestants as a whole experienced harassment on the internet because of their religion, mainline Protestants were significantly less likely to experience such harassment than their evangelical counterparts.

Just 11% of white non-evangelical Protestants reported faith-based harassment online. Fifteen percent of Catholics claimed to have experienced online harassment due to their faith, along with 10% of those unaffiliated with any religion.

Within the group of Americans who identify as unaffiliated, 21% of atheists, 6% of agnostics and 8% of those who claim "nothing in particular" when asked about their religion alleged that they were victims of online harassment. 

Republicans were more likely than Democrats to cite their religion as the reason for their online harassment, with 22% of voters who are Republicans or lean Republican claiming to have experienced faith-based harassment compared to 16% of voters who are Democrats or lean Democratic.

Among white voters, 21% of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters reported online faith-based harassment, as did 14% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters.

Twenty-one percent of men claim to have experienced harassment on the internet due to their faith, while 16% of women said the same. Eighteen percent of whites claimed that they had been harassed online because of their faith, along with 16% of blacks and 21% of Hispanics.

Additionally, the Pew survey asked Americans if they had experienced any online harassment. Harassment was broken down into two categories: Severe harassing behaviors such as stalking, physical threats, sustained harassment or sexual harassment and less severe behaviors. Although white evangelicals were the most likely group to claim that they had experienced faith-based harassment, religiously unaffiliated voters were more likely to say that they had experienced any form of harassment.

Among U.S. adults as a whole, 41% claim to be victims of online harassment. That number rose to 47% among religiously unaffiliated voters, with 53% of atheists and 52% of agnostics reporting online harassment.

By contrast, only 37% of white evangelicals said that they had experienced some form of online harassment. That figure dropped to 35% among white, non-evangelical Protestants and 33% among black Protestants, who are tied with white Catholics for the group with the lowest share of members who claim to have experienced online harassment.

Forty-six percent of Hispanic Catholics reported experiencing any form of online harassment, making them the most likely religious group besides the religiously unaffiliated to experience such harassment.

White evangelicals frequently find themselves as outliers regarding the issues facing the country. A poll conducted in September by the Public Religion Research Institute found that white evangelical Protestants had outlier opinions on every issue facing the country ahead of the 2020 presidential election, including abortion, same-sex marriage and their approval of former President Donald Trump.

White evangelicals, an important bloc in American politics, gave 76% of their support to the former president in the 2020 presidential election, according to CNN exit polling. Based on exit polling following the 2016 presidential election, which Trump won, 80% of white evangelicals supported him. 

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