Survey: Muslims and Jews report the most religious discrimination

People wait in line for a free Halal meal for Iftar during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (Credit: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Although people of all faiths report growing religious discrimination during the past few years, the phenomenon is most common among Jews and Muslims, according to a new survey.

Jews and Muslims are also much more likely to become victims of violence because of their religious beliefs, the study shows.

“…religious discrimination is alive and well.”

The researchers included samples of religious groups that are in the minority in the United States (Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists) as well as Christians in their study.

About a quarter of those surveyed reported feeling hostility or disrespect toward their religion when interacting with other people, but over one-third of Jews and almost two-thirds of Muslims reported having such experiences.

Jews and Muslims were also more likely to report religious harassment, threats, and violence. While 8.7% of all the people surveyed reported being threatened with physical violence due to their religion, 16.7% of Jews and 20.3% of Muslims reported threats.

Muslims and Jews were also the most likely to report organizational discrimination. Only 1.7% of those surveyed overall reported being denied services in a place of business because of their religion, but 5.9% of Jews and 5.8% of Muslims did.

All of these discriminatory experiences occurred regardless of an individual’s race or ethnicity, national origin, and other characteristics, the researchers write in Socius.

The researchers found some noteworthy differences between the experiences of Jews and Muslims.

Muslim adults were much more likely to report being harassed by the police (21%), while only 2.2% of Jewish adults say they have experienced such harassment,” says Christopher P. Scheitle, an associate professor of sociology at West Virginia University. “This highlights that Muslim adults face some unique forms of discrimination.”

“I think that, at some level, leaders do not think of religious discrimination as a problem,” says Elaine Howard Ecklund, chair in social sciences and director of the Religion and Public Life Program at Rice University. “Unfortunately, our results show that religious discrimination is alive and well.”

The National Science Foundation and a grant from Rice’s Faculty Initiatives Fund funded the work.

Source: Rice University