A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning Americans believe evangelical Christians face equal amounts or more discrimination in society than women, Muslims, and black, Latinx, and LGBTQ people, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, published Monday.
According to the survey, there is a broad consensus that certain groups in America face persistent discrimination. Approximately 82% of the 1,503 respondents said Muslims face at least some form of discrimination. That number was around 80% for black Americans; 76% said Latinx people suffered some form of discrimination in society, and 75% said LGBTQ people faced at least some form of discrimination as well.
Broken down by party affiliation, however, responses were vastly different. Only 34% of Republicans or those who are Republican-leaning believed Muslims experience “a lot” of discrimination in society, compared with 75% of Democrats or those who are Democratic-leaning. Sixty-nine percent of Republican or Republican-leaners believed Muslims faced “some discrimination,” compared with 92% among Democrat or Democratic-leaners.
Only 19% of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents said they believe black Americans faced “a lot” of discrimination. Sixty-six percent said black Americans faced “some” discrimination. Approximately 22% of Republicans and Republican-leaners said “gays and lesbians” faced “a lot” of discrimination, while 60% said they faced “some” form of discrimination.
Ten percent and 52% said women faced “a lot” or “some” discrimination, respectively, and 16% and 59% said the same of Latinx people.
By contrast, among Democrats and Democrat-leaning respondents, 69% and 92% said they believe black Americans faced “a lot” or “some” discrimination, respectively. Fifty-seven percent said “gays and lesbians” faced “a lot” of discrimination, while 87% said they faced at least “some.” Approximately 44% and 84% said they believe women faced “a lot” or “some” discrimination. Among Democrats, 58% also said Latinx people faced “a lot” of discrimination while 89% said the group faced at least “some” discrimination.
Asked about evangelical Christians, Republicans and Republican-leaners said the group faced the most discrimination of any in the United States, with 70% saying they faced at least “some” discrimination and 30% saying they faced “a lot.”
Among Democrats, only 32% said evangelical Christians faced “some” discrimination. Just 8% said evangelicals experienced “a lot” of discrimination. (The poll did not break down evangelicals by race.)
Republican fears over evangelical discrimination appear at odds with the statistical rise in hate crimes, which increased for the third year running from 2016 to 2017, under the Trump administration. The vast majority of this violence — as exemplified by the Tree of Life synagogue attack in Pittsburgh, the recent spate of arson attacks targeting historically black churches in Louisiana, and a foiled 2016 plot by Kansas militiamen to attack a housing complex where Somali Muslims lived — has targeted minority groups.
Compounding problems, the FBI’s collating of hate crimes has been repeatedly criticized as woefully incomplete.
Reporting hate crimes to the Bureau is currently voluntary, meaning that many police departments don’t bother to submit reports or, when they do, vastly under-report the number of incidents occurring in their jurisdictions. As The New York Times noted last November, for instance, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department initially reported zero hate crimes for all of 2017, before later claiming the report had been made in error and adjusting the figure to 61.
The perception of who faces discrimination in the United States has remained relatively unchanged since 2016, when Pew last conducted the survey. One noticeable change was a 20-point jump in the number of participants who said that Jews faced discrimination, rising from 44% in 2016 to 64% in 2019.
Correction: This article has been updated to state that the Pew Poll surveyed general members of the public, not registered voters. The first paragraph was also updated to clarify that the majority of Republicans believe Evangelical Christians face equal amounts or more discrimination than minority groups. A previous version only stated that they believed Evangelicals faced “more” discrimination than other groups.