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Recognize It

  • Walking past a mosque being built, two young men roll their eyes at one another and one says, "Great, another terrorist training ground."
  • A woman decides to stop going to her corner pharmacy, because she's sick of its owner's poor work ethic. She tells a friend, "No place of business can expect to keep customers when they are routinely closed on odd days."
  • Forced to adhere to a strict school dress code, a young girl is asked to remove her cross necklace.

Are these discriminatory acts?

One of the most violent forms of discrimination throughout history has been religious discrimination. From the Crusades to the Holocaust, people have used religion as a reason to commit incredibly violent acts against religious minorities and people of various faiths. Millions of people have been persecuted and killed because of judgments made about their religious beliefs. To complicate matters, the terrorists that used religion as their reasoning for September 11th have enabled some people to say that all Muslims are potential terrorists, that everyone with a different religion is capable of committing an extreme act of hatred. Religious discrimination is not a thing of the past, it is occurring right now, even as you read this.

Why do people discriminate others based on religion? Oftentimes, it is because people are unfamiliar with other religions and are afraid about what they do not know. Many people grow up learning that any other religion that is not their own is the wrong one, and that is a good enough reason to treat people of different faiths badly. Either way, to discriminate against people based on their religion shows that the person committing the act is in some way ignorant: Ignorant of the religion they are defacing, and ignorant of the people that they are mistreating.

People can escape the cycle of religious discrimination by reaching out to people of different faiths, to learn more about various religions, and to understand why all religions have a place in this world. Tolerance through understanding and peace through acceptance: these are some of the ways that will help prevent future acts of religious-based terrorism from occurring. Everyone can do their part in creating a society that is more religiously-tolerant.

Define It

Question It

  • As you were growing up, did you have contact with people of different faiths?
  • Are you aware of your own attitudes and behavior towards people of different religions?
  • Are you willing to take unpopular stands to support the rights of all people, not just people in groups you belong to?


Check Yourself. Ever wonder whether you have hidden biases? Click here to take a test and find out.

Key Statistics
  • There are 6 million Muslims in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, however, only 33% of Arab-Americans are Muslim. (Source: National Conference for Community and Justice)
  • Buddhism is now the fastest growing U.S. religion with approximately 750,000 members. (Source: National Conference for Community and Justice)
  • There are approximately 800,000 Hindus in the United States. (Source: National Conference for Community and Justice)
  • WIn 1999, 39 states and the District of Columbia reported 1,547 anti-Semitic incidents to the Anti-Defamation League. (Source: Anti-Defamation League)


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