Religious harassment or discrimination occurs when a person or group of people malign or abuse a person or group of a different faith. It may include unequal treatment in the workplace or government, acts of terrorism or violence, verbal assault, and persecution [making certain religions illegal to practice]. Some religious harassment carries with it a long history of abuse (e.g. persecution of the Jewish people) while other harassment may be more localized based on cultural norms or customs.
Whether you believe, like Karl Marx, that religion is “the opium of the masses” and endangers society and human development and safety or you believe that religion is good and beneficial and maintains order in society (or you have no strong persuasion about what other people choose to believe), there is never an excuse to harass another person or group of people. It is very possible to celebrate and respect differences of belief without forfeiting your own beliefs of what is truth.
The terms “Christian”, “Muslim”, “Jew”, “Buddhist”, “Hindu” are general terms used to describe belief systems whose adherents vary – sometimes greatly – by personal convictions, views of deity, tenants, perceptions of truth, etc. In other words, just as each person and culture is unique, so the adherents and branches of each belief system are unique. For more information on the specific religions included in this infographic (and other lesser known religions), consider reading one of the following sources:
World Religions by Gerald McDermott
Neighboring Faiths by Winfried Corduan
The World’s Religions by Huston Smith
No Other Gods by Hendrik Vroom
World Religions by John Bowker
Reading the sacred books for each religion is also an important and simple way of understanding the different worldviews each group represents such as the Bible [Christianity], the Torah or Talmud [Judaism], the Quran [Islam], the Tipitaka [Buddhism], and the Vedas or the Bhagavad Gita [Hinduism].
Finally, the best way to find out about – and learn to appreciate – the different systems of faith in the world? Talk to people! Find people who profess Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc. and ask them to explain what they believe and why (not antagonistically but respectfully and with an open-mind). Beyond that, talk to more than just a few people from each group as you will find variations, different denominations and sects. Try to move beyond the stereotypes and straw-men that opponents to religion, the media [i.e. the misguided American notion that “Christian” is synonymous with right-wing conservative or “Muslim” is synonymous with terrorist], or your past experiences have formed.