Religion and Prejudice

HideShow resource information

What is prejudice?


Thinking badly of someone because of the group he/she belongs to


Having an oversimplified mental image of people and applying it to everyone in the group


Actions as a result of prejudice and treating someone unfairly e.g. refusing to give them a job due to their religion

Positive Discrimination

Treating people more favourably because they have been discriminated against in the past e.g. giving wheelchair users front seats at the cinema or deliberately employing more women/ people from ethnic minority groups

Scapegoating - blaming certain groups for problems in society

1 of 21

Reasons/Causes/Origins of Prejudice

Ignorance - lack of education about people's cultures and backgrounds. Lack of understanding can lead to fear of different people from who individuals are used to.

Stereotyping - views based on oversimplified perceptions and expectations of what people from particular religions and religions are like. E.g. an old person who was mugged by a teenager may think of all teenagers as thieves

Scapegoating - fear and uncertainty may lead people to blame certain groups for society's problems to justify treating them badly e.g. Nazis persuaded people that the Jews were to blame for Germany's economic problems to justify their extreme discrimination against Jews.

Parental Influence - Growing up and hearing racist comments = children likely to imitate parents. Friends and neighbours may also reinforce this =comfortable around similar opinions. Outsiders

Media influence - important influence. Reinforce stereotypes or break them down e.g. Italians likened to gangsters, homosexuals shown positively as people like everyone else

Victims/personal experience of prejudice - easier to cope with being a victim

2 of 21

Effects of prejudice

Causes great harm:

  • feeling worthless, frightened and vulnerable
  • caused deaths of millions during Holocaust in WW2
  • Mass genocide in Rwanda and Yugoslavia
3 of 21

Different types of prejudice

Religion - happened throughout centuries. Now against the law e.g. Muslims facing prejudice due to 9/11 terrorists attacks. Islam  and Muslim community don't support it/ Jews - Holocaust

Genuine disagreements over beliefs -> arguments e.g. Quakers against war

Race and colour - separated into distinct categories - physical characteristics. Scientists agree that no human races are biologically distinct. Racism - skin colour determines ability/ some races are infereior to others. e.g. black footballers have suffered racist chanting, spitting, objects thrown

Gender - can be determined by sex (male/female), sexual identity, how ppl see themselves. Expectations of behaviour can lead to stereotypes. Non-conformity might lead to experience of prejudice and discrimination. Sexism - form of gender prejudice. Against the law. Some old attitudes still exist. Woman's rights - women ->men's work while away at war -> gained more respect & thought to be more competent in these work. Yet, women still get low pay, experience a glass ceiling, hard to get promoted

Age - ageism is based on stereotypes e.g. young people - rude, irresponsible. Younger people = better chance of being hired (considered healthy, full of energy, productive). Some employers recognise the wealth of experience from old people. Age discrimination - against the law.

4 of 21

Different types of prejudice (2)

Disability Discrimination

Ableism. Could be intentional or unintentional e.g. denied access to services like ramps, toiletries, lifts.These facilities only recently put in place. Might experience prejudice since ppl don't understant their problems

Class, Lifestyle, Looks

Social class (position in society) often determined by background, education, job, wealth. Social mobiliy is achievable today - move up/down classes. Many celebrities- great wealth but not much formal education/upper class backgrounds. Money influences lifestyle - A LOT e.g. interests, shopping habits, opinions, activities. Great attention - looks, clothes, body, fashion sense. Prejudice - non-conformity to this. Lifestyle choices influence health. Smoking, drinking, poor diet, lack of exercise - likely to have health problems. Media images e.g. models can encourage ppl to look down on weight problems. Discrimination here can also occur but it's harder to prove.

  • Disability - physical or mental handicap or impairment
  • Ageism - prejudice against someone because of their age, leading to discrimination
  • Lifestyle - the wat people live reflects their values and attitudes.
5 of 21

Religious attitudes to prejudice

Tolerance - respecting the beliefs and practices of others.

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights - 1948: all human beings are born dree and equal in dignity and rights. Everyone has the right to think what they want/express their opinions. Tolerance values people's contribution to society. They should be allowed to keep their own beliefs/practices/ways of life as long as they don't harm others or break the law. Not necesarilly agreeing with other beliefs. Respecting right to beliefs w/o oppressing or persecuting them. Limits: racism/other prejudiced view can't be tolerated.

Justice - bringing about what is right, fair according to the law or making up for wrong doing

All religions teach: people are all equal - same value, worth, human rights to live and work freely and happy at peace. However, everyone isn't the same and don't have equal life oppurtunities. Religion: people should be treated with justice. Unjust laws must be changed.

Harmony - living in peace with others.

Requires acting justly, tolerance, understanding. Religious believers: sense of community, practice kindness, compassion generosity. Live in harmony with inner and wider community.

6 of 21

Religious attitudes to prejudice (2)

Value of the individual

Human rights - basic rights and freedoms everyone is entitled to. Similar beliefs anf value were present in ancient cultures and rligions to protect people against abuses of right to live freely/try to be happy. 

Religious context; human rights based on belief that everyone is created by God with special value to Him. Eveyone is unique and made in his iamge; humans should treat each other as equals regardless of race, colour, religion, gender etc and should have the same rights and oppurtunities.

7 of 21

Western attitudes to prejudice and discrimination


  • God created all men and women in his image
  • Parable of 'Good Samaritan' - teaches to love your neighbour as yourself
  • Jesus welcomed tax collectors, sinners, sick & disabled people and the servant of a Roman Centurion to his kingdom.
  • Galations "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus"
  • Fight against discrimination: 2005 - Anglicans elected their first black bishop John Sentamu. Some protestant denominations and Anglicans allow women to be priests or ministers


  • Allah created all ppl equal regardless of race, gender or background. Differences = wonderful variety of God's creations.
  • Muhammed preached against slavery and that tribe, race, colour and traditions didn't excuse mistreatment
  • hajj - pilgrimage to Makkah schows equality.
8 of 21

Western attitudes to prejudice and discrimination


  • hajj - Muslims wear garments regardless of race/social status
  • Islamic law: based on justice. Protects against rights of non- Muslims living in Muslim countries to practice their religion. Do-gooders will be rewarded
  • Women and men are equal but have different roles. Women - bring children up in faith. Mostly don't pray with men at mosques and can't become an imam. 


  • Humanity created in God's image; we're all equal in his sight
  • Torah - 'love your neighbour as yourself'. Treat foreigners and poor with compassion.
  • Prophets Amos and Isaiah taught that God was more pleased with social justice than religious ceremonies
  • Johah - Prophet whose narrow minded prejudice against people of Ninevah was punished.
  • Accepts converts from other races & African Jews
  • Orthodox Jews - women can't to sit with men in the synaguogue, handle Torah scrolls or become rabbies. Their responsibilities: bring up children in faith. Reform Jews don't follow these rules
  • "You are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt" - Deut 10:19
9 of 21

Eastern attitudes to prejudice and discrimination


  • The Buddha left his wealthy lifestyle as it didn't bring happiness and rejected the caste system which divided ppl into classes - thought divisions made people feel superior
  • The Buddha taught: everyone has equal potential for reaching enlightenment. Right Action, Speach and loving-kindness require Buddhists to treat ppl equally, avoid prejudiced talks, show tolerance and consideration. All members of sangha (community are equal
  • Buddha ordained women depite the social conditions. Buddhists welcome men and women of all races and nationalities. Women can become nuns in cultures that allow it.
  • Dalai Lama - Buddhist leader - believes people need to increase mutual understanding and repect regardless of culture or beliefs. They don't have to agree/go to the same temple to achieve it.
  • "The things which divide and separate people - race, religion, gender, social position ... are all illusory" - Dhammapada 6
  • "If we are full of good will, our own mind, our own heart, is the temple. Kindness, alone, is enough" - The Dalai Lama
10 of 21

Eastern attitudes to prejudice and discrimination


  • A Hindu's duty - regard everyone with respect since they were created by God. He is present in every living being and loves all creatures equally. All men and women of any caste can reach the spiritual goal of moksha (release) if they seek God. Hindus were traditionally divided into 4 castes.
  • People couldn't mix with or marry ppl of different castes. The untouchables were the lowest and not a part of the caste system with few rights. 
  • 1949 - Discrimination outlawed by Mahatma Gandhi's support. Yet, since one's caste is believed to reflect karma from a previous lide, prejudice against the lower castes and untouchables still exist
  • Hindus are tolerant of other people's religions - belief in many paths to God.
  • Men and women = equal but have different roles. 
  • Men - priests and perform religious ceremonies
  • Women - perform puja (prayer) at home. They have more rights to be educated, take up well paid jobs and own property. 1966 - Indira Gandhi became India's first female prime minister
11 of 21

Eastern attitudes to prejudice and discrimination


  • All men and women are equal and children of God their creator. God has no colour or form so it's wrong to discriminate on grounds of race/religion/gender. Tolerant of all religions. Guru Granth Sahib contains Muslim & Hindu writings
  • Guru Granth Sahib thought the idea of untouchable was a mere superstition. Banned custom of wife throwing herself on husband's funeral pyre. Women deserve respect - the human race continues through them
  • In the gurdwara - everyone sits on floor to show they're all equal. Men and women sit separately usually but women take full part in worship.
  • Non-Sikhs are made welcome, offered karah parshad (blessed food) and invited to sit at langar (kitchen). Vegetarian food is served so no one feels excluded. 
  • Sikhism is open to people of all races. People can marry members of other faiths as long as they can remain Sikhs.
12 of 21

Responses to prejudice

Society and the Law

  • Human rights and democracy were based on religious principles of justice and equality for all which are essential to combat prejudice and discrimination
  • British government (secular) laws (religious people still support laws promoting similar principles and beliefs):

Sex Discrimination Act - 1975

Race Relations Act 1976

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Equality Act 2006 (against discrimination and ageism)

  • These laws promote: equal rights at work, equal pay, equal chances for good education/healthcare.
  • People who think they are being discriminated against can take the person to court
  • Prejudice cse is harder to stop than discrimination - you can't arrest people for attitudes only actions. School and media play a part in messages of equal treatment
13 of 21

Responses to prejudice


  • Anthony Walker - sixth former - killed in 2005 by ice axe simply for being black
  • Anthonys mother Gee, a Christian said she felt no hate against the killers - brought up children to stand up for peace, love, forgiveness. Pain was no comparison but she felt that lack of forgiveness would dishonour her son's memory. She said parents & teachers must instil love, respect, tolerance and kindness. Her family set up a charity in Anthony's name to fight racism


  • Corrymeela community set up by Catholics and Protestants in Ireland during violence between the groups.
  • Christian community - promotes peace, tolerance and respect - different religons meet & talk freely
  • 8,000+ people annually try to find ways of removing violence and finding more constructive methods of working together
  • Politicians accepted their guiding principle that trusting relationships is the only way for real peace and reconciliaton. Since Good Friday Agreement - community is trying to break down religious barriers.
14 of 21

Mahatma Gandi

  • Hindu born in India 1869. Age 24 - Experienced racial prejudice and discrimination under apartheid laws. They kept blacks and non-white (coloureds) and whites separated in all areas of life.

South African Campaigns

  • Practiced non-violence. Believed truth = present each person's soul. Only way to treat others - love
  • Best way to fight prejudice - peacefully ie. Refusing to cooperate with discriminatory authorities. Campaign for rights on Indians in SA. Non-violent mass civil obedience - thousands refused to register for unfair poll tax. Many beaten/jailed/shot but after 7 years it was dropped. Legalised Indian Marriages.
15 of 21

Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi's Indian campaigns

  • 1915 - returned to India - peaceful methods to fight against British ruling. Campaigned to help poorest under caste system considered unclean during worship. Called them 'Harijans' - children of God. Hand led them to temples that had excluded them. Women/all castes into Indian National Congress. Nationwide campaign after massacre of unarmed civilians in Amritsar 1919 - boycotted British goods,  refused to pay taxes (especially salt) Led thoudans to sea - made salt by evaporating sea water. After 2 years + arrest/imprisonment - tax stopped

Final years and legacy

  • Began to where a dhoti (loincloth) like poor to show his equality and peace. Wanted to spritually identify with the poor. Fasted to purify himseld. His actions - better treatment for poor especially during India's independance. Assassinated by Hindu extremist. 2nd Oct - national holiday commemorating him. Continues to inspire for actions against injustice today.
16 of 21

Martin Luther King

Born in Georgia, Atlanta USA 1929. Became Christian minister like father at 18

Segregation/Discrimination during civil rights movement

  • Black people - terrible prejudice/discrimination. Segregation (policy separating blacks & whites)
  • Black children - different schools - poorer facilities, books, equipment than 'white-only' schools
  • Couldn't use the same swimming pools/go in same restaurants as white people
  • Earned 1/2 as much as whites / not allowed to vote
  • Ku Klux Klan (KKK - racist group) used violence against black people or any sympathisers

Challenging prejudice & Discrimination

  • The injustices went against MLK's Christian beliefs. Wanted black people to be fairly treated. Set out to change laws through persuasion and argument. Inspired by Jesus and Gandhi to challenge/fight racism w/o violence
  • Rosa Parks arrrested for refusing to give up bus seat to a white man
  • Organised a 'bus boycott' - thousands of black people refused to travel on buses until law was changed over a year later.
17 of 21

Martin Luther King

Despire being arrested, having his house bombed and recieving death threats the boycott was a success and earned him great respect. He led the civil rights movement:

  • campaigns for black voter registration
  • desegregation of public facilities and better housing/education for blacks. Sat down in restaurants refusing to serve him/others and waited to be arrested
  • TV pictures- people and children attacked by police dogs- did a great deal to persuade many Americans of the unjust laws
  • hundreds of thousands of ppl in protest marches e.g. Selma.
  • Washington DC - gave a famous speech ' I have a dream' - main points:
    • people would judge his children on content of character rather than skin colour
    • hope that people of all races would join hands and thank God for freedom at last

Final years and legacy

  • Awarded Nobel Prize Award
  • US Supreme Court gave equal voting tights to blacks. (2008 - Obama elected)
  • Assassinated at 39 in 1968. Commemorated for fight against prejudice on Martin Luther King Day.
18 of 21

Desmond Tutu


  • Means 'separateness' - Previous SA policy keeping blacks and whites apart. Black people: not allowed to vote despite majority/unequal access to jobs, housing, education, couldn't marry non-whites. Injustices made by Dutch Reformed Church - taught that God made whites superior to other races. Many Christians agreed arguing the Bible was misused to keep whites in power. DRC publicly apologised many years later accepting their racist views as anti-Christian

Anti-apartheid campaigns

  • Desmond Tutu - first black general secretart  1978 of the SA Council of Churches. Used his position to campaign for equal civil rights for all & a common system of education for children. Worked to get rid of unfair 'pass laws'. People separated into poorer rural 'homelands'. Arrested if they left w/o their pass
19 of 21

Desmond Tutu

Non-violent protests

  • 600 young Soweto ppl killed by police for refusal to learn Afrikaans. Tutu - lead peaceful march in Soweto protesting police actions. Threw himself over a black policeman almost stoned to death and saved his life. Organised petitions/other countries to support the economic sanctions (penalties)
  • This pressurised the SA govt. to change the Apartheid lawes. Outspoken critic of racist laws in preaching & writing. Awarded Nobel Peace Prize  - 1984 for leadership & 'courage and heroism shown by black SAs in their use of peaceful protests... against apartheid struggle.

After apartheid

  • Became the firsh black Archbishop of Cape town - leader of Anglican Church in SA. Led the Truth Reconciliation Commision. Looked into human rights abuses during apartheid and protected people from being taken to court for willingness to confess wrong actions. Report strongly criticised violence of both sides. Described new SA as the 'rainbow people of God'. Believes that Christianity involves working for justice and equality.
20 of 21

Final quote

  • "True Christian worship includes the love of God and the love of neighhbour. The two must go together or your Christianity is false. St John asks... how can you say you love God whom you haven't seen if you hate your brother who you have. Our love for God is tested and proved by out love for our neighbour" - Desmond Tutu
21 of 21



wow, these ones are amazing too!!

Harmen Gill

amazing like ommmmmmgggggggggg!!!!! 

Harmen Gill

amazing like ommmmmmgggggggggg!!!!! 

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Religion and Life Issues resources »