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.

Related research

Surveys, studies and fact sheets

Journalist resources

Potential sources

  • Gail Song Bantum

    Gail Song Bantum is the lead pastor at Quest Church in Seattle. In April 2021, she spoke on a Vanderbilt Divinity School panel about Asian American experiences.

  • Raymond Chang

    Raymond Chang is president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative. Chang, a pastor and a writer, also serves as a campus minister at Wheaton College in Illinois.

  • David C. Chao

    David C. Chao is director of the Asian American Program at Princeton Theological Seminary.

  • Laura Mariko Cheifetz

    Laura Mariko Cheifetz is the assistant dean of admissions, vocation and stewardship at Vanderbilt Divinity School and a contributing editor to Inheritance, a magazine that focuses on stories of Asian American and Pacific Islander Christian faith. She also is an ordained Presbyterian minister.

  • Cynthia Choi

    Cynthia Choi is the co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action and a leader of Stop AAPI Hate. For media inquiries, email stopaapihate@fenton.com.

  • Jung Choi

    Jung Choi is co-director of the Asian House of Studies at Duke Divinity School. She participated in a Duke Divinity School panel on anti-Asian racism.

  • Keith Ellison

    Keith Ellison is the attorney general of Minnesota and the first African American and first Muslim to be elected to statewide office in Minnesota. In March 2021, Ellison co-authored a USA Today column titled “Stand together to fight anti-Asian hate. We all have a stake in a more inclusive America.

  • Jonathan Greenblatt

    Jonathan Greenblatt is the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights watchdog organization with Jewish roots.

  • Chenxing Han

    Chenxing Han is the author of Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists and studied chaplaincy at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, California. Contact Han via her website, or her publisher’s email is jsadowski@northatlanticbooks.com.

  • Margari Hill

    Margari Hill is the executive director of Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, a faith-based human rights education organization. For media inquiries, contact info@muslimarc.org.

  • DJ Ida

    DJ Ida is the executive director of National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association and a clinical psychologist.

  • Pardeep Singh Kaleka

    Pardeep Singh Kaleka is executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. He’s also a member of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, the site of a 2012 mass shooting. Kaleka lost his father in the shooting.

    Contact: 414-276-9050.
  • Scott Kennedy

    Scott Kennedy is senior adviser and trustee chair in Chinese business and economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The media contact is H. Andrew Schwartz.

  • Mihee Kim-Kort

    Mihee Kim-Kort is an ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister and serves as co-pastor with her spouse of First Presbyterian Church in Annapolis, Maryland. She wrote a March 2021 column in The New York Times called “I’m a Scholar of Religion. Here’s What I See in the Atlanta Shootings.

  • Daniel D. Lee

    Daniel D. Lee is the academic dean for Fuller Theological Seminary’s Center for Asian American Theology and Ministry. Lee is also an assistant professor of theology and Asian American studies.

  • Brian Levin

    Brian Levin is director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, a nonpartisan research and policy center at California State University, San Bernardino. Levin is also a professor of criminal justice at the university.

  • Paul C.H. Lim

    Paul C.H. Lim is an associate professor of the history of Christianity at Vanderbilt Divinity School. In April 2021, Lim spoke on a Vanderbilt Divinity School panel about the histories of racialized and gendered violence.

  • Mae M. Ngai

    Mae M. Ngai is a professor of Asian American studies and history at Columbia University. Her area of study is U.S. legal and political history with a particular interest in immigration, citizenship and nationalism. She wrote an April piece in The Atlantic titled “Racism Has Always Been Part of the Asian American Experience.

  • Linh Thủy Nguyễn

    Linh Thủy Nguyễn is an assistant professor of American ethnic studies at the University of Washington.

  • Sumie Okazaki

    Sumie Okazaki is a professor of applied psychology at New York University. Okazaki researches the impact of immigration, social and culture change, and race on Asian and Asian American teens, young adults and parents.

  • Soong-Chan Rah

    Soong-Chan Rah is a professor of church growth and evangelism at North Park University in Chicago. He spoke on a Vanderbilt Divinity School panel on anti-Asian racism in evangelicalism.

  • Josh Scott

    Josh Scott is associate pastor at Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta. He helped organize a prayer walk after the March 2021 spa shootings.

  • Lok Siu

    Lok Siu is an Asian diaspora studies associate professor at the University of California Berkeley.

  • Nikki Toyama-Szeto

    Nikki Toyama-Szeto is the executive director of Christians for Social Action.

  • John C. Yang

    John C. Yang is the president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. For media inquiries, contact Michelle Boykins.