How does today's stereotyping, bias, and racial profiling intersect with religion?

The intersection of stereotyping, bias, and racial profiling with religion occurs primarily as a remnant of past cultural attitudes based on religion. These phenomena are often only implicitly derived from religious ideas. They do not generally occur in the form of a direct connection with religion that the practitioners are explicitly aware of or are acting upon. Nevertheless the roots of many of these negative tendencies lie at least partly in religious belief.

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In today's society, at least in the US and the West generally, religion is a less powerful force than it was previously. If there is a connection or intersection between religion and bigotry, it is mostly on a subliminal level, and in the majority of cases it's a product of...

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In today's society, at least in the US and the West generally, religion is a less powerful force than it was previously. If there is a connection or intersection between religion and bigotry, it is mostly on a subliminal level, and in the majority of cases it's a product of the legacy of past religious attitudes rather than current ones.

In the past, Christian fundamentalists often invoked the Bible to attempt justifying slavery and the general oppression of black people that occurred in the US. The claim was that Africans were descended from the biblical figure Ham, whose children and children's children were "cursed" and were supposedly destined to be servants and inferiors. Few people today, even among those who interpret Scripture literally, still believe this, or if they do, they don't say it openly. But the unfortunate, and tragic, legacy of this idea can be seen as having been indirectly perpetuated in the institutionalized racism that still exists.

A different issue, perhaps more explicitly connected with religion, is the xenophobia against non-Christians, especially Muslims, which occurred in the aftermath of 9/11 and has been more recently encouraged by people at the highest levels of government in the US. Similarly, right-wing groups in Europe wish to marginalize, or ultimately to exile, non-white and non-Christian people. The Nazis, from 1933 to 1945, attempted to exile and annihilate the Jewish population of Europe. Though the Nazis themselves were not Christians for the most part, it would probably not have been possible for them to carry out the Holocaust without the tacit support of many ordinary Germans (and Europeans in general) whose anti-Jewish bias was partly rooted in Christianity.

That said, those professing Christianity do not have a monopoly on religious bigotry. Extremists in the Ottoman Empire persecuted and killed non-Muslims such as Greeks and Armenians, and similarly would probably not have been able to do this without the traditional belief of many Muslims that Christians are inferior and cannot be allowed equal status with Muslims.

In India, religious hatred between Hindus and Muslims resulted in fratricidal violence and mass killings at the time of the Partition and later. These are historical examples, and despite the use of religion to justify violence, most people of any religion today do not endorse such bigotry. Religious texts such as the Torah, the Christian New Testament, and the Koran can, hopefully with more validity, be interpreted as justifying peace and brotherhood rather than violence and hatred.

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