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Posts for December, 2007

Announcing the Cameronesque Award: The Christian Defense Coalition

Jim Burroway

December 12th, 2007

A lot of groups and individuals put out piles of misrepresented statistics and bogus research. Few can match Paul Cameron’s audacity, but from time to time we run across something that surely must put a smile on Cameron’s lips. One such email blast reached my inbox yesterday, and it was so good I thought it might be time to inaugurate a brand new award.

The Cameronesque AwardAnd so I’m announcing the Cameronesque Award, given for the individual or group who engages in the most egregious manipulation, misuse, or misrepresentation of research or statistics that would make Paul Cameron proud.

For the first winner of this brand new award, I chose the Christian Defense Coalition. Headed by Rev. Pat Mahoney, the Christian Defense Coalition was formed to advocate on behalf of Terri Shiavo’s parents, and they’ve been involved with conservative Christian politics ever since. Yesterday, they put out a blaring press release claiming that the “shootings in Colorado highlight the fact that Christians and churches are the overwhelming target of hate crimes in America.”

Did you get that? Christians and churches are the “overwhelming target” of hate crimes in America. Not blacks, not gays, not Jews. Christians.

The Christian Defense Coalition goes on, citing statistics from the National Burned Churches Coalition:

For example, between 1997 and 2007 there were 3,500 acts of either arson, attempted arson, bombings and suspicious fires at churches according to the National Coalition for Burned Churches.

The group also reports that 600 churches were subjected to arson alone between 2000 and 2006.

The National Burned Churches Coalition was founded in 1997 in the wake of several church fires that occurred in the South. Since then, they’ve provided valuable aid and advice to churches recovering from arson, bombing or vandalism, and they do research for crime prevention. The NBCC does genuinely good work.

But not all of the acts that the NBCC tracks were hate crimes. According to their web site, some of these churches are damaged or vandalized as part of common criminal activity, and some are targeted by teens “just for the thrill of it.”

Don’t get me wrong. The NBCC is filling a legitimate need. But not all of the churches they assist were victims of hate crimes. And the NBCC doesn’t get involved with acts of hate directed at other groups. That simply is not their mission, which means it’s not possible to put their data into perspective against what other groups experience.

So who does track hate crimes nationwide against all legally-specified categories? Well, the FBI of course. And for 2006, here is what they reported:

Hate Crime Incidents, 2006
Race 4,737 52%
Anti-White 1,008  
Anti-Black 3,136  
Anti-Indian/Alaskan Native 72  
Anti-Asian/Pacific Islander 230  
Multiple Groups/Other 291  
Religion 1,597 18%
Anti-Jewish 1,027  
Anti-Catholic 81  
Anti-Protestant 62  
Anti-Islamic 191  
Anti-Other 140  
Multiple groups 88  
Anti-Atheist/Agnostic 8  
Sexual Orientation 1,415 16%
Anti-Male Homosexual 881  
Anti-Female Homosexual 192  
Anti-Homosexual 293  
Anti-Heterosexual 28  
Anti-Bisexual 21  
Ethnicity 1,233 14%
Anti-Hispanic 770  
Other 483  
Disability 94 1%
TOTAL 9,076 100%*
Percentages don’t add to
100% due to rounding errors.

Now the Christian Defense Coalition ignored the FBI data altogether. Using the NBCC data, they complained:

Most would believe that the groups or facilities most likely to be targets of hate crimes are persons of color, gays, Muslims or abortion clinics. The reason for that is the national press, media, elected officials and special interest groups focus, dramatize and over report when those groups and facilities are subjected to violent acts.

But let’s look at the FBI’s data, which is the only source for statistics of hate crimes against all of these groups (except abortion clinics). If you add the anti-Protestant and anti-Catholic reports of hate crime incidents, you’ll find that there were 143 hate crimes reported against Christian groups or individuals.

That’s a lower figure than for every other group that the Christian Defense Coalition mentions. That figure is minuscule compared to the 3,136 anti-Black hate crime incidents. It’s even blown away by the 1,008 anti-White hate crime incidents. It’s also tiny compared to the 1,366 combined anti-homosexual hate crime incidents and the 1,027 anti-Jewish hate crime incidents. It’s even lower than the 191 anti-Muslim hate crime incidents. In fact, even Asians and Pacific Islanders experience more hate crime incidents that Christians — and Christians make up the majority of the U.S. population!

A lot of people are lining up to exploit the Colorado shootings to advance their agenda. Monday, we cited the Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkin’s craven attack on the “secular media.” Today we have the Christian Defense Coalition trying to dress their claims with meaningless statistics. I have a feeling that somewhere in Colorado Springs, Cameron is smiling.