New Poll Reveals White Christian Evangelicals Believe They’re Discriminated Against More Than Muslims

A new Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) poll reveals that most white evangelical Christians in the United States believe they’re discriminated against more than American Muslims are.

The poll revealed that among white evangelical Protestants, 57 percent believe that discrimination against Christians in the U.S. today is high, while 44 percent believe the same about Muslims. According to the poll, this was the only religious group that reported they believed American Christians face discrimination that’s comparable to the discrimination American Muslims endure.

Of other religious groups mentioned: White Catholics, white mainline Protestants and others were “roughly twice as likely to say Muslims face discrimination compared to how they see the Christian experience.”

And according to previous surveys, these new results suggest that white evangelicals now actually perceive even less discrimination against Muslims than they did a few years ago. This comes despite the fact that Muslims are victims of 22 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes in the U.S., compared to 13.6 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes affecting all Christian denominations combined.

While discrimination is not valid no matter what group is targeted, as Emma Green of The Atlantic notes: “Considering that Muslims are estimated to make up less than 1 percent of the American population, compared to Christians’ 70 percent, these numbers are even more stark.”

When PRRI asked the same question about religiously motivated discrimination in December 2013, 59 percent of white evangelicals reported that they believed Muslims deal with significant discrimination. In October, that number dropped to 56 percent, and now, it’s at 44 percent.

A new survey highlights how some religious groups perceive discrimination.

This comes at a time when President Donald J. Trump is issuing Muslim bans and religiously motivated immigration discrimination policies. Trump won the presidency with huge support from white evangelicals, and a recent PRRI poll revealed that the Muslim ban is widely unpopular among most groups in the U.S. – except white evangelicals. (Seems like a trend.)

This doesn’t come as a surprise, despite white evangelical Christians being a majority that enjoys a lot of privilege. When I attended the Values Voter Summit (VVS), a Religious Right gathering, last year, I saw this mentality. As I wrote then: “If I were to write a synopsis about the VVS, it would be: ‘Highly privileged majority members of society gather to debate whether they’re oppressed due to their legally limited power to oppress other people.’”

Unfortunately, it seems as though that mentality hasn’t wavered, as the survey results noted that one of the factors that makes white evangelicals perceive discrimination includes social progress such the advance of LGBTQ rights.

Of course, not all white evangelicals’ views are reflected in this survey, but it’s still disappointing to see results like this. As we’ve noted many times, the idea that one’s religious freedom rights are being infringed upon because other marginalized groups are gaining more rights is not true. That distorts the meaning of religious freedom.

Religious freedom means people are free to believe, or not, as they see fit. That concept doesn’t grant you the power to discriminate against others or cause them harm. Yet across the country, Religious Right activists are pushing legislation that would allow them to do just that.

You can learn about these latest threats – and how to stop them – at AU’s Protect Thy Neighbor site.