25 experts on anti-Asian hate and the religious communities’ response

Marchers call for an end to Asian hate. (Photo courtesy of Paul Becker via Creative Commons)

Members of religious communities and organizations are condemning acts of discrimination and violence against Asian Americans in the U.S. They’ve issued statements, attended rallies, prayed and advocated for solutions in support of this diverse group facing harassment, bias and violence across the country.

Concern is widespread. Nearly one-third of Asian Americans fear someone may physically attack or threaten them, an April 2021 Pew Research Center survey found. While anti-Asian bias is not new in America, the survey found that more than 80% of Asian adults say violence against them is increasing, and nearly half experienced an incident tied to their racial or ethnic background since the pandemic began.

In the last year, the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate tracked thousands of self-reported incidents of discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. The coalition released a national report on March 16, 2021, the day a gunman killed eight people — including six women of Asian descent — at three spas in the Atlanta area. Those fighting to end the hate say the anti-China pandemic hashtags and rhetoric of former President Donald Trump and others helped fuel anti-Asian hate.

Groups such as the Sikh Coalition, the Asian American Christian Collaborative and the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative are pushing for change. Many have advocated in support of legislation that is making its way through Congress: The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act passed the U.S. Senate on April 22, 2021, with overwhelming bipartisan support, and the House is expected to take it up shortly.

The latest edition of ReligionLink features experts to help you report on anti-Asian discrimination and violence in America and religious communities’ responses.

Background information


Between March 19, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021, nearly 3,800 incidents were reported to Stop AAPI Hate, according to the coalition’s national report. Women reported more incidents than men, and the largest ethnic group that reported experiencing hate was Chinese Americans (42.2%), followed by people of Korean (14.8%), Vietnamese (8.5%) and Filipino (7.9%) heritage. The report also noted that the self-reported incidents represent only a fraction of the harassment, discrimination, shunning and attacks that actually occur.

It is hard to prove whether incidents are motivated by hate, but The New York Times found examples of people of Asian descent being beaten, called slurs, kicked, spat upon and pushed since March 2020, according to the newspaper’s April report. Businesses and homes also were vandalized. The evidence of race-based hate was clear in more than 110 of these episodes, the report said.

National Asian-Pacific American organizations working on this issue include the National Council of Asian Pacific AmericansAsian Americans Advancing Justice, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.

Georgia shootings

On March 16, eight people were killed at three spas in the Atlanta area. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent. A 21-year-old man, whose church removed him from its membership rolls after the shootings, was charged with eight counts of murder.

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