Rick Santorum's Stat About Violence Against Jews and Muslims? It's True—With One Major Caveat

The FBI's hate-crime records largely corroborate the presidential candidate's claim.

Rick Santorum speaks during a CNN Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

In the midst of a presidential debate over Islam, civil liberties, and President Obama’s national security policies on Tuesday night, Rick Santorum rolled out a notable statistic.

“There's four times as many acts of violence against Jews than there are against Muslims. I never hear the president talk about that.”

It’s a surprising figure—particularly as the Muslim community has been hit by a rash of hate crimes after the San Bernardino attacks earlier this month—but it’s one that’s grounded in federal data.

In 2014, the FBI recorded 1,092 hate-crime “offenses” against particular religions. Of those, 58 percent were against Jews, while 16.3 percent were against Muslims. That’s not quite four times higher, but it’s close.

What that does not account for, however, are the different numbers of Jews and Muslims in the U.S. According to a Pew Research report released in May, Jews comprised almost 2 percent of the U.S. population in 2014, whereas Muslims made up nearly 1 percent. So while Jewish people are still hit by hate crimes at a higher rate, when measured on a per-capita basis the disparity is smaller.

Overall, the FBI recorded 6,418 hate-crime “offenses” in 2014.

While more than a thousand of those were aimed against religion, there were far more (3,081 offenses) hate crimes committed on racial grounds. Nearly two-thirds of those (1,955 offenses) were aimed at African Americans.