Religious Imperialism is discrimination, prejudice, or stereotyping on the basis of perceived, or actual, religion and/or religious beliefs. It is the mistreatment of an individual or a group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs and/or affiliations (or their lack thereof) and it shows the tendency of societies or groups within societies to alienate or repress different subcultures as a recurrent theme in human history.
Eboo Patel author, founder, and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), in his video with Big Think, shares his experience of being in an interfaith friend group in high school. His Jewish friend called him out for being a bystander as he was called anti-Semitic slurs and did nothing, while his Muslim father told him how his faith encourages him to stand up for people who are hurting. Eboo using the most painful moment of his life as a lesson for all of us explains why it’s crucial to be positive and proactive about engaging religious identity towards interfaith cooperation.
“Our educational institutions, our health care facilities, our athletic leagues, and our businesses are religiously diverse and part of what every educated American needs is the ability to positively engage that religious diversity.”
Let us ask you this:
- What are your typical initial/first thoughts when you meet someone who has a different religion/religious belief from you? Do these first thoughts align with what you believe to be true about all people from different religions and/or belief systems?
- What is your current experience with Religious Imperialism? Have you, or someone you know, ever had a lived experience with Religious Imperialism? If yes, what impact did it have on you?
Today we would like to remind you that it is not necessary for people to believe in the same religion or in any at all to treat someone with kindness and respect. It is important that we acknowledge how we are all different and we encourage you to open your mind to understand not only your own beliefs, but that of others as well.
This is a reminder that every moment is an opportunity to continue learning and reflecting and that there is always room for growth in ourselves and in our communities.