Review of Religious Research

, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 95–113 | Cite as

Religious Congregations’ Experiences with, Fears of, and Preparations for Crime: Results from a National Survey

  • Christopher P. ScheitleEmail author
Research Note


Although anecdotal evidence suggests that crimes involving religious congregations are relatively common, data and research on congregations’ experiences with victimization, fears of victimization, and security preparations is sparse. This research note provides an overview of a new survey of over 1300 congregations that was focused on these issues. In addition to providing an introduction to the data, the note provides a descriptive overview of results with a particular focus on differences across religious traditions. Exterior vandalism is the most common crime experienced, with 19% of respondents reporting such an incident in the past year. Jewish and Muslim congregations report a higher rate of receiving threats and are more likely than respondents overall to report a perception that an experienced crime was hate-motivated. Jewish and Muslim congregations also report a higher level of fear of experiencing violent crimes and, overall, have adopted more security measures compared to respondents overall. The note concludes by outlining directions for future research expanding upon these initial patterns.


Crime Congregations Security Victimization Fear Bias Places of worship 



The author thanks Jeff Ulmer and Ezekiel Kaufman for their feedback and assistance with this research.


This research was made possible by support from the National Science Foundation (Awards #1349738 & #1349728).


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Copyright information

© Religious Research Association, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

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