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Religious discrimination is valuing or treating a person or group differently because of what they do or do not believe. Specifically, it is when adherents of different religions (or denominations) are treated unequally, either before the law or in institutional settings such as employment or housing.
Religious discrimination is related to religious persecution, the most extreme forms of which would include instances in which people have been executed for beliefs perceived to be heretic. Laws which only carry light punishments are described as mild forms of religious persecution or as religious discrimination.
Even in societies where freedom of religion is a constitutional right, sometimes adherents of religious minorities voice concerns about religious discrimination against them. Insofar as legal policies are concerned, cases that are perceived as religious discrimination might be the result of an interference of the religious sphere with other spheres of the public that are regulated by law (and not aimed specifically against a religious minority).citation needed
In a 1979 consultation on the issue, the United States Commission on Civil Rights defined religious discrimination in relation to the civil rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Whereas religious civil liberties, such as the right to hold or not to hold a religious belief, are essential for Freedom of Religion (in the United States secured by the First Amendment), religious discrimination occurs when someone is denied "the equal protection of the laws, equality of status under the law, equal treatment in the administration of justice, and equality of opportunity and access to employment, education, housing, public services and facilities, and public accommodation because of their exercise of their right to religious freedom."1
However, cases of religious discrimination might also be the result of an interference of the religious sphere with other spheres of the public that are regulated by law. Although e.g. in the United States the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", in Reynolds v. United States the U.S. supreme court decided that religious duty was not a suitable defense to a criminal indictment. In this specific case a law against bigamy was not considered to be discriminating against Mormons, who stopped practicing Polygamy in 1890.2
In Canada, during 1995-1998 Newfoundland had only Christian schools (four of them, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, and inter-denominational (Anglican, Salvation Army and United Church)). The right to organize publicly supported religious schools was only given to certain Christian denominations, thus tax money used to support a selected group of Christian denominations. The denominational schools could also refuse admission of a student or the hiring of a qualified teacher on purely religious grounds. Quebec has used two school systems, one Protestant and the other Roman Catholic, but it seems this system will be replaced with two secular school systems: one French and the other English.3
Canadian faith based university, Trinity Western University is currently facing a challenge from members of the legal and LGBT community to its freedom to educate students in a private university context while holding certain religious values.4 TWU faced a similar battle in 2001 (Trinity Western University v. British Columbia College of Teachers) where the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that TWU was capable to teach professional disciplines.5
In Greece since the independence from the Muslim Ottomans rule in the 19th century, the Greek Orthodox Church has been given privileged status and only the Greek Orthodox church, Roman Catholic, some Protestant churches, Judaism and Islam are recognized religions. The Muslim minority alleges that Greece persistently and systematically discriminates against Muslims.67
According to a Human Rights Practices report by the U.S. State Department on Mexico note that "some local officials infringe on religious freedom, especially in the south". There is conflict between Catholic/Mayan syncretists and Protestant evangelicals in the Chiapas region.8910
- Civil rights
- Islamic religious police
- OUT Campaign
- List of anti-discrimination acts
- Religious intolerance
- Anti-Christian sentiment
- Anti-Islamism, not to be confused with Islamophobia
- Anti-cult movement, people and groups who oppose cults and new religious movements
- Discrimination against atheists
- Religious discrimination against Neopagans
- U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1979: II
- "Polygamy". Mormonnewsroom.org. 2007-07-24. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
- "The Constitution Since Patriation". Parl.gc.ca. 2006-10-03. Archived from the original on 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
- Challenges to TWU law school application.
- Legal decision on TWU
- "Turkish Minority Rights Violated in Greece". Hrw.org. 1999-01-08. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
- "The Turks of Western Thrace". Hrw.org. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
- "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices". State.gov. 2002-03-04. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
- The requested URL /articles/other/mexico.shtml was not found on this server.dead link
- "U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999: Mexico". State.gov. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
- Stokes, DaShanne. (In Press) Legalized Segregation and the Denial of Religious Freedomdead link
- Stokes, DaShanne. (2001). "Sage, Sweetgrass, and the First Amendment." The Chronicle of Higher Education. May 18, 2001, sec. 2: B16.
- U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1979: Religious discrimination. A neglected issue. A consultation sponsored by the United States Commission on Civil Rights, Washington D.C., April 9–10, 1979