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Religious oppression

Brief description of events involving
governmental, social, & education policies

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Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, lists brief descriptions of events considered by some to be examples of religious discrimination by governmental, social, and educational policies.

The ReligiousTolerance.org web site does not normally publish extensive passages from other web sites. However, the following is a wide-ranging list of events that may be deleted from the Wikipedia web site at any time. Wikipedia's policy is that "Lists of miscellaneous information should be avoided" and relocated elsewhere.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

  • The Eagle Feather Law, which governs the possession and religious use of eagle feathers, was officially written to protect then dwindling eagle populations while still protecting traditional Native American spiritual and religious customs, of which the use of eagles are central. The Eagle Feather Law later met charges of promoting racial and religious discrimination due to the law’s provision authorizing the possession of eagle feathers to members of only one ethnic group, Native Americans, and forbidding Native Americans from including non-Native Americans in indigenous customs involving eagle feathers—a common modern practice dating back to the early 1500s.
  • Charges of religious and racial discrimination have also been found in the education system. In a recent example, the dormitory policies at Boston University and The University of South Dakota were charged with racial and religious discrimination when they forbade a university dormitory resident from smudging while praying. The policy at The University of South Dakota was later changed to permit students to pray while living in the university dorms.
  • Religious organizations such as the Seventh-day Adventist Church make it clear in their university catalog that they have the right to discriminate on the basis of religion. They discriminate against non-Adventists in hiring practices, disciplinary action, and promotions. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has made many anti-Catholic statements stating that the Bible identifies the Pope as the Anti-Christ. Today, the church has softened these statements, explaining that they interpret the biblical passages as referring to the papal institution and not to a specific person. Recently, they have also taken measures against church members who have publicly attacked the pope, especially those who claim that it is in the name of the church.

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  • During 1995-1998 Newfoundland [in Canada] 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 ... [until 1998 when this system was]... replaced with two secular school systems: one French and the other English.
  • In Greece since the independence from the Muslim Ottomans rule in the 1800s, 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.
  • 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.
  • In some U.S. jurisdictions legal restrictions exist which require a religious test as a qualification for holding public office, for instance in Texas an official may be "excluded from holding office" if he/she does not "acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being." (i.e. God) Thus Atheists, Agnostics, [Humanists], Buddhists, most Satanists, some Unitarian Universalists, [Wiccans, other Neopagans,] and New Age followers, who do not believe in a supreme being would be excluded from public office. [Such laws have been annulled by federal Constitution; however, their existence is seen as oppressive by many religious minorities].
  • In 2004, a case involving five Ohio prison inmates (two followers of Asatru, a minister of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, a Wiccan witch and a Satanist) protesting denial of access to ceremonial items and opportunities for group worship was brought before the Supreme Court. The Boston Globe reports on the 2005 decision of Cutter v. Wilkinson in favor of the claimants as a notable case. Among the denied objects was instructions for runic writing requested by an Asatruer. Inmates of the "Intensive Management Unit" at Washington State Penitentiary who are adherents of Asatru in 2001 were deprived of their Thor's Hammer medallions. In 2007, a federal judge confirmed that Asatru adherents in US prisons have the right to possess a Thor’s Hammer pendant. An inmate sued the Virginia Department of Corrections after he was denied it while members of other religions were allowed their medallions.
  • Religious discrimination has also been documented in employment, such as an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) law suit alleging discrimination against an Iranian-Muslim employee by the Merrill Lynch company in US.


The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Religious discrimination," Wikipedia, 2008-JUL-09, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/

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Home > Religious hatred & conflict > Conflict > Specific events > here

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article cited above.
Originally posted: 2008-SEP-04
Posted by: B.A. Robinson

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