Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Social Science Quarterly. 2023;1–12. DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.13271


Open access.


Objective: Combining insights from socio-criminological theories of (hate) crimes and the moral communities perspective, this article examines how the religious makeup of a county— evangelical Protestant, mainline Protestant, and Catholic adherence rates—affects county-level hate crime patterns.

Methods: Zero-inflated negative binomial regressions were conducted on a unique county-level data set that included reported hate crimes, religious adherence rates, and related correlates of hate crimes for three distinct temporal periods: 2003–2007, 2008–2012, and 2013–2017.

Results: Results demonstrate that a county’s total adherence rate, mainline Protestant rate and, to a lesser degree, Catholic adherence rate are associated with fewer hate crimes. We find no evidence that the evangelical Protestant adherence rate is associated with the number of hate crimes.

Conclusion: These results support the moral communities hypothesis, extend research on the religion–crime nexus, and highlight the distinction between religious and secular organizations in community-level crime patterns, particularly hate crimes.