41% Of Americans Report Online Harassment Because Of Their Religious Affiliation

Some 41% of U.S. adults have been harassed online in at least one of six ways covered in a Pew Research Center survey conducted in September 2020. Those who have been subjected to these experiences cite a number of reasons for why they were targeted, and a notable share believe that the harassment they faced was due to their religious affiliation.

…This study shows there are some groups who are more likely to attribute their harassment to their religious beliefs than others. Of those who say they faced online abuse, 23% of Protestants say they believe they were the target of online harassment because of their religion, compared with 15% of Catholics and one-in-ten of those who are religiously unaffiliated.

Among Protestants, White evangelical online harassment targets (29%) are more likely than White non-evangelical targets (11%) to say they believe they were the target of harassment online because of their religion. There are also differences among those who describe themselves as having no religious affiliation. For instance, 21% of atheists who have been harassed say they were targeted with abuse online “as a result of their religion,” compared with smaller shares of targets who are agnostic (6%) or “nothing in particular” (8%). There are not enough respondents in the survey’s sample who are Black, Hispanic or Asian – or who are part of specific religious groups – to be broken out in a separate analysis for this question.

Other research has examined the online experiences of religious people. For instance, a 2014 survey by the Center found that one-in-five Americans share their faith online. Another study by the Cyberbullying Research Center found that notable portions of American teens have experienced cyberbullying because of their religion. Issues around online harassment have drawn the attention of the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism and the Vatican. Read more»

Brooke Auxier, “About one-in-five Americans who have been harassed online say it was because of their religion,” Pew Research Center (February 1, 2021)


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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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