Bias against a victim’s religious tradition was the third largest basis for hate crimes in the U.S. during 2020, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data released in late August.
Religious bias was the basis for 13.4% of last year’s hate crime incidents, down from 20.1% of incidents in 2019.
Bias against the victims’ race / ethnicity / ancestry bias (61.9%) and sexual orientation (20.5%) was the basis for most of the 2020 incidents, with gender identity bias (2.5%), disability bias (1%) and gender bias (0.7%) accounting for the remaining incidents.
There were 7,426 hate crimes against people last year, with 53.4% involving intimidation, 27.6% simple assault and 18.1% aggravated assault.
Hate crime is defined by the FBI as “a committed criminal offense which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias(es) against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.”
Incidents are categorized as either single-bias or multiple-bias, and each incident might involve more than one offense, victim and/or offender. Victims can be individuals or entities (such as businesses, houses of faith or government facilities).
Anti-Jewish bias accounted for a majority 676 (57.6%) of the 1,174 religious bias incidents in 2020. This is down from the 995 anti-Jewish hate crime incidents in 2019, which represented 60.3% of the 1,650 religious bias incidents that year.
Anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias was the basis for 104 incidents (8.9 %) in 2020, followed by anti-other religion (69 incidents; 5.9%), anti-Catholic (68; 5.8%), anti-Sikh (67; 5.7%), anti-other Christian (48; 4.1%), anti-Eastern Orthodox (42; 3.6%), anti-multiple religions (37; 3.2%), anti-Protestant (19; 1.6%), anti-Buddhist (15; 1.3%), anti-Hindu (11; 0.9%), anti-atheism / agnosticism (7; 0.6%), anti-Mormon (6; 0.5%) and anti-Jehovah’s Witness (5; 0.4%).
A majority (76.4%) of hate crimes against property last year were destruction, damage or vandalism, while the other 23.6% involves a combination of offenses including robbery, burglary, arson and more.
Residences and homes were the location for 28.3% of all 2020 hate crimes, followed by public throughways (highways, roads, sidewalks, etc.) at 19.9%, other / unknown locations (8.6%), parking lots and garage (6.5%), schools (4.4%), parks and playgrounds (3.6%) and houses of faith (3.6%). Incidents at multiple locations accounted for the other 25.1% of incidents.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released in early September its data analysis of FBI hate crime data from 2010-2019, finding a 10% (686-incident) increase during this period. After a four-year decline in incidents to start the decade, there was a 25% (1,835-incident) rise from 2015 to 2019.
There were 12,720 religious bias incidents from 2010 to 2019, with anti-Jewish bias accounting for 7,640 (60%) of this total, the BJS analysis found.
Anti-Jewish incidents declined from 887 to 609 from 2010 to 2014, before steadily increasing to 953 by 2019. This makes the 676 anti-Jewish incidents in the FBI’s 2020 hate crime data report the lowest number since the 664 incidents reported in 2015.
The FBI data is available here. An interactive crime data explorer is available here. The full BJS report is available here.