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Religiously motivated fear, hatred,
animosity, intolerance, conflict, oppression, etc.

Definitions of "Religism:" a
new English word to mean

"intolerance of a religion."
A study on how new words are created.

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We recommend a new word:

In the early years of the 21st century, this website started to recommend the creation of a new word in the English language to describe bigotry/hatred/discrimination/ridicule/a desire to limit the civil rights, etc. of another religion, or belief system, or its adherents. The word would be in the same general class as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and other forms of prejudice and bigotry.

We first suggested "relism" as the new word. But a visitor to this web site felt that it would be too easily confused with "realism." So we changed our recommendation to "religism."

Anti-semitism seems to be among the longest lasting form of religism. In 19th century America, the most prevalent forms of religism probably also included hatred of Native Americans, of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) and of Roman Catholics. Today the most common forms of religism are probably aimed at Agnostics, Atheists, Muslims, Wiccans, and other Neopagans.

Our definition was, and remains:

Religism: "the expression of fear towards, hatred towards, or discrimination against, persons of a specific religion affiliation, usually a minority faith." More information about "religism"

A Google search for "religism" produced about 1,340 hits on 2010-JAN-09, and 6,100 on 2012-OCT-10, and 10,200 on 2018-OCT, although not all refer to this specific meaning.

Some definitions of "Religism" on the Internet:

Spelling and grammar has been corrected in the following definitions:


Wikipedia: Originally, they define "Religism" as a synonym of "Religious Intolerance." However, it has been changed so that as of 2018-OCT, it is defined as:

"... the tendency to believe in religious ideologies as opposed to rational facts." 1

This is a meaning totally different from our original proposal.  

bulletInterReligion: Religism:
  1. "Any attitude, action or institutional structure that systematically treats an individual or group of individuals differently because of their religion."
  2. "The belief that persons who follow one religion are inherently superior to those of other religions." 2

Urban Dictionary: Religism:

"The practice of disliking anyone that is not a member of your religion. Same definition as racism or sexism but with religion."

" 'He's a religist. Anyone who hates people of a religion other than your own is practicing religism'." 3


Ask.com: Their service Reference.com once defined Religism as a synonym for religious discrimination:

"... valuing or treating a person or group differently because of what they do or do not believe." 4


AllExperts: Religism: Encyclopedia:

"Religism refers to beliefs, practices, and institutions that discriminate against people based on their perceived or ascribed 'religion'. Primarily, it refers to an assumption that the religious beliefs of a person, or the absence of such beliefs, can or should determine the way such a person is to be treated in societal and/or private life."

"Some use the word 'religism' more narrowly to refer to a system of oppression, as in institutional religism; a nexus of religist beliefs, whether explicit, tacit or unconscious; practices; organizations and institutions that combine to discriminate against and socially marginalize a group of people who are 'non-believers'."

"Religism can be defined as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on religion which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public and private life."

All religions, including atheism, distinguish between 'believers' and 'non-believers'; they however differ in the extent to which they prescribe discriminatory behavior. 5



"Religism refers to beliefs, practices, and institutions that discriminate against people based on their perceived or ascribed 'religion'. Primarily, it refers to an assumption that the religious beliefs of a person, or the absence of such beliefs, can or should determine the way such a person is to be treated in societal and/or private life." 6


Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Religion:

This is a book by Ramesh Chopra that copied part of this website's Glossary of Spiritual and Religious Terms verbatim, without acknowledging either the source or author. The first sentence's use of "we" reads very strangely in a book that was written by a single author. The reference to genocide refers to a stated desire by a fundamentalist teleminister to have the government execute Wiccans, and to a plea by a fundamentalist pastor in Texas to have the U.S. Army round up and napalm Wiccans.

"Religism: A word that we have created that is non-existent but badly needed in the English language: any attitude, action or institutional structure which systematically treats and individual or group of individuals differently because of their religion. The most common form of religism in North America is in the form of discrimination against non-Christians, up to and including the promotion of genocide against them. However, it also surfaces often a discrimination against conservative Christians. A secondary meaning is the belief that persons who follow one religion are inherently superior to those of other religions." 7


WikiAnswers: In answer to the question: "What is the word for religious discrimination?" they posted two answers.

  • The first stated that "I don't think there is one. ... It's odd, because religious discrimination is probably much more common than any other kind: certainly it has caused more wars than anything else. I suppose that religions have their own words for describing their *own* discrimination, though. In Christianity, these would be words such as "heretic", "pagan", "heathen" and so forth. ..."

  • The second answer is a quote from this website's glossary's entry under Religism. 8

HighBeam™ Research once reported on "The week's best invented words" in the Toronto Star newspaper, but does so no longer. Included was:

"Religism, n: The expression of hatred towards, or discrimination against, persons of a specific religion, usually a minority faith." 9


Globe-Guardian.com is an exception. They have a totally different definition for "religism," They define it as: any religion that is without merit; i.e. phony religion or pseudo religion:

"Religism (ri-líj-iz-em) noun:

1.  system of professed theological beliefs that doesn't quite qualify as a bona fide religion, yet seems nearly plausible

2. large group of loosely organized individuals abnormally devoted to an object or concept which appears to be without exceptional merit to the general populace." 10

Almost two decades have passed since we first suggested that "religism" be created to refer to religious discrimination against persons of a religion -- a word in the same class as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia. We hope that English-speakers and writers will eventually settle on a single definition -- preferably ours.


  1. "Religism," Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. "Religism," InterReligion, at: http://www.interreligion.co.uk/
  3. "1. Religism," Urban Dictionary, at: http://www.urbandictionary.com/
  4. "Religism," Reference.com, a service of Ask.com, at: http://www.reference.com/
  5. "Religism," All Experts, at: http://en.allexperts.com/
  6. "Religism." Freebase, at: http://www.freebase.com/
  7. Ramesh Chopra, "Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Religion," Gyan Publishing House, (2005). Page 651. Online at: http://books.google.com/
  8. "What is the word for religious discrimination?," WikiAnswers, undated, at: http://wiki.answers.com/
  9. "The weeks' best invented words (ideas)," The Toronto Star, Toronto, ON, 2008-SEP-14
  10. "Dogma," The Globe-Guardian, 2009-JUL, at: http://www.globe-guardian.com/

Copyright © 2009 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published on: 2009-JUL-12
Last update: 2018-OCT-31, Halloween
Author: B.A. Robinson

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