What is prejudice and discrimination?
Prejudice: to prejudge someone unfairly, usually based on a stereotype.
Discrimination: acting on a prejudice. This can involve treating someone unfairly or preventing them from having equal chances in life.
Stereotype: having an over simplified mental image of people and applying it to everyone in that group.
Scapegoating (scapegoat): blaming certain groups for problems in society.
Why are people prejudiced?
There are many reasons why people are prejudiced. Some key reasons are listed here:
- Unfamiliarity with certain groups
- Lack of education
- Fear and uncertainty
- They were nurtured (brought up) in a prejudiced environment
- Bad experiences with certain groups
- The media have shown certain groups in a bad light
Some of the effects of prejudice resulting from the above reasons include:
- Genocide (i.e. the holocaust)
- Riots and social unrest
Types of prejudice
Racism: prejudice based on race. This is the belief that the colour of someone’s skin or ethnicity determines their ability or characteristics.
Sexism: a form of gender prejudice. It means treating people unfavourably because of their gender.
Religious prejudice: prejudice towards people of a particular religious group. An example is anti-Semitism (prejudice of Jewish people/Judaism) or Islamophobia (prejudice of Muslims/Islam).
Homophobia: prejudice based on sexuality, such as prejudice against homosexuals.
Ageism: prejudice concerned with the age of a person (e.g. old people can’t drive, teenagers are criminals).
Disability discrimination: discrimination towards the disabled. This can be through the calling of names but also denying disabled employees access to services (e.g. a lack of ramps, lifts and toilets).
Prejudice can also be based on social class, lifestyle and looks.
Society and the law
Democracy and human rights are based on religious values of equality and justice for all. Britain has a number of laws against discrimination. These include the:
- Sex Discrimination Act 1975
- Race Relations Act 1976
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995
- Equality Act 2006
Prejudice and human rights
Article 1 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone should have the same rights and duties. Article 2 says that you have these rights regardless of race, religion, age, disability, language, sex (gender) or sexuality.
Religious attitudes to prejudice
Most religious groups teach the following:
- Tolerance: respecting the beliefs and practices of others.
- Justice: bringing about what is right, fair, according to the law or making up for what has been done wrong.
- Harmony: living in peace with others.
- Value of the individual: the belief that each individual is created by God and has a special value.
- Human rights: the basic rights and freedoms that everyone is entitled to.
Christian beliefs about racism
Christians agree that discrimination goes against the idea of God’s design. All humans are ‘made in God’s image’ (Bible) and deserve respect. As Christians believe that God created men and women in his own image, they should respect all ethnicities and genders.
Christians believe that “Love thy neighbour” (Bible) means to help and love everyone around you. For many, but not all, Christians this includes those of…