Collaborative Research: The Frequency and Patterns of Crime Against Religious Congregations

Project: Research project

Project Details


Places of worship are among the most prevalent and visible institutions in communities across the United States. This visibility, though, means that churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other religious congregations are often targets for street crime and ethnic- or even religiously-motivated hate crime. Indeed, it is easy to find hundreds of news reports each year about a religious congregation being victimized by vandalism, theft, arson, or some other crime. Yet, the victimization of religious congregations has received little attention by social scientists. Our research will contribute to the testing and extension of theories of crime and its relationship to community contexts, as well as theories of ethnic conflict and religious persecution.

This project will gather nationally representative survey data on the prevalence, pattern, and predictors of victimization of religious congregations along with in-depth interview data with congregational leaders and their experiences with crime. We will compare and contrast the factors that predict street crime victimization with those that predict religiously-motivated hate crime victimization. These data will not only allow social scientists to test theories of crime, ethnic conflict, and religious persecution, but they will also provide the foundation for law enforcement, community, and congregational leaders to prevent and respond to the victimization of places of worship.

Effective start/end date4/15/143/31/18


  • National Science Foundation: $262,525.00


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