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FBI stats: LDS less frequently victims of hate crimes than other religions, but on rise

LDS conference 040619 Larry D Curtis KUTV 08.JPG
With FBI statistics that track crimes hate crimes by religion, it is far statistically safer to be LDS than Jewish, Muslim, or in other Christian churches. (Photo: Larry D. Curtis / KUTV)

(KUTV) With FBI statistics that track crimes hate crimes by religion, it is far statistically safer to be LDS than Jewish, Muslim, or in other Christian churches. Jewish people faced the steepest risks and were far more likely to be victimized than other religions.

In 2017, members of what the FBI defined as "Mormons" were the target of .9 percent of hate crimes in the U.S. The FBI recorded 15 individuals suffering "anti-Mormon bias" in crimes. That is the same as the number of people, 15, who suffered anti-Hindu bias, with approximately three times as many members. The same number of Hindus were attacked, but from a significantly smaller population.

Jehovah's Witnesses suffered a similar number of anti-religious hate crimes with 13 attacks, also from a smaller population than who the FBI defines as Mormons.

It is not clear if the FBI's use of "Mormon" refers only to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or if it includes other churches that also trace their roots to Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon. The Utah-based faith has more members by far than the other churches, making it statistically likely the 15 incidents were based on the church widely known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church. The church recently requested use of its full legal name, after previously using the shorter terms.

It is estimated there are 4.5 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the U.S., compared with an estimated 1.5 million adherents of Hinduism, according to the State Department. The Pew Research Center reports approximately 2.5 million Jehovah's Witnesses in the U.S.

On its website the FBI defines a hate crime:

For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.

The FBI said it is responsible to uphold the civil rights of the American people and offers support to law enforcement to do so. It also said it investigations, forwards results of investigations to the U.S. Attorney's Office for potential federal prosecution, engages in public outgreach and trains local law enforcement, minority and religious organizations along with training for agents and police officers nationwide.

But according to the FBI, of the religiously-motivated hate crimes in the U.S., "58.1 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Jewish bias." According to the Jewish Agency, there are 5.3 million Jews in the U.S. The date by religion shows:

  • 58.1 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Jewish bias.
  • 18.6 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias.
  • 4.3 percent were victims of anti-Catholic bias.
  • 3.3 percent were victims of bias against groups of individuals of varying religions (anti-multiple religions, group).
  • 2.3 percent were victims of anti-Protestant bias.
  • 1.8 percent were victims of anti-Other Christian bias.
  • 1.5 percent were victims of anti-Eastern Orthodox (Russian, Greek, Other) bias.
  • 1.5 percent were victims of anti-Sikh bias.
  • 0.9 percent (15 individuals) were victims of anti-Hindu bias.
  • 0.9 percent (15 individuals) were victims of anti-Mormon bias.
  • 0.7 percent (13 individuals) were victims of anti-Jehovah’s Witness bias.
  • 0.7 percent (12 individuals) were victims of anti-Buddhist bias.
  • 0.5 percent (8 individuals) were victims of anti-Atheist/Agnostic bias.
  • 4.9 percent were victims of bias against other religions (anti-other religion).

There are approximately 70 million Catholics in the United states.

Crime statistics with an "anti-Mormon bias" increased from 2016 to 2017, more than doubling from seven incidents to 15. According to available records, the FBI didn't track Mormonism as its own religious category before 2015. It is not clear if Mormon refers to other churches in the Latter Day Saint movement such as the Community of Christ, The Church of Jesus Christ or the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Mormon hate crimes by year:

Year — incidents — victims — known offenders

2015 — 8 — 8 — 8 — 6

2016 — 7 — 8 — 8 —3

2017 — 15 — 15 — 15 — 8

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