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New poll looks at who is most likely to be harassed online

As the nation seemingly splinters over a growing lack of acceptance of differing views, a new poll finds a shocking number of people have been harassed online. The new uncivil war touches on everything from vaccinations to voter integrity, to mask-wearing and, of course, religion. In fact, a new poll finds that forty percent of all American adults say they have been the victims of online harassment.

But you may be surprised who has experienced the most harassment. White evangelical Christians are the group most likely to say they have been harassed online because of their religious beliefs. That’s according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

Three in 10 white evangelicals who have experienced online harassment believe it was a result of their religion, compared with 11 percent of white nonevangelical Protestants and 15 percent of Catholics. Atheists are the second-highest group surveyed to say the online harassment they’ve experienced was directly related to religion. “The study shows there are some groups who are more likely to attribute their harassment to their religious beliefs than others,” according to the Pew report.

harassed poll

The reported levels of online religious harassment have increased since a similar study conducted by Pew in 2017. At that time, 12 percent of those who had experienced online harassment cited their religion as the reason for the attacks.

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The study offered five possible motivations for the experienced harassment. In addition to religious reasons, they included a person’s political views, gender, racial or ethnic background and sexual orientation. Political views were the most common reason for which people said they were harassed, with half of adults who have experienced online harassment saying they believe it was a result of their personal political views.

harassed poll

Although the study did not take into account how vocal or upfront respondents were with their religion in their online lives, a 2014 Pew study showed white evangelicals were the most outspoken religious group online. One-third of white evangelicals in the study said they have shared their own faith online, compared with 15 percent of white mainline Protestants, 30 percent of black Protestants and 15 percent of Catholics.

When looking at political affiliation among those who say they have been harassed, Republicans and independents who lean Republican (22 percent) are more likely than Democrats and independents who lean Democrat (16 percent) to say the abusive online behavior was because of religion.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice