Religious Oppression: Readings and Resources

Sharon Raz

In this page, we look more closely at religion and religious oppression. Religion is a system of faith and worship that is shared by a group of believers. Throughout American history religion has influenced our beliefs and values and has influenced and impacted our institutions and systems. However, as religious diversity continues to grow, we are now facing a new wave of religious oppression in the US. But as much as we think the world is changing it is also staying the same. The following article by the Pew Research center breaks down religious diversity  in the US. It tells us that if data was simplified to 100 people, 71 would be Christians, two would be Jewish and 1 would be Muslim. For more information about religions in the US, you are invited to visit The Pew-Research – Religious Landscape Study.

Religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or a group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs or affiliations or their lack thereof. The tendency of societies or groups within societies to alienate or repress different subcultures is a recurrent theme in human history. Moreover, because a person’s religion often determines his or her morality, world view, self-image, attitudes towards others, and overall personal identity to a significant extent, religious differences can be significant cultural, personal, and social factors. For more information about religious persecution research, please visit The Pew Research – Restrictions on Religion, America’s True History of Religious Tolerance – The Smithsonian. In addition, you are invited to watch this video that examines how religious groups are radicalized. Think about how easy it is to begin to categorize others based on their religion: Video: We are all Muslim; see also, TedTalk Video: Islamophobia killed my brother.

You can find a discussion about religious oppression in part 2 of Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice (2016):

Chapter 8 (pages 255-298) focuses on religious oppression. Another collection of resources can be found in Tanenbaum Center of Interreligious Understanding.

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