Religious Intolerance


Religious intolerance has emerged as prevalent issue throughout the years. The issue of religious intolerance has received a significant amount of scholarly attention because of the challenges pluralism for community integration. Nevertheless, it is a personal belief that the issue has become major in the modern times as it was during the rise of Christianity. In simple terms, religious intolerance is scenario of one or a group not being capable of withstanding another religion with its beliefs and practices among other things. According to Adams, et al., it is a situation where one or group sees another other people as different from themselves, and often at lower level of humanity, because of the variations in religious beliefs. A perfect historical example of religious intolerance is the burning of non-Christians, or what others would believe to be witches, during the 1500s and 1600s in Europe. This paper discusses religious intolerance, why it qualifies as a social problem, and its impacts on individual and the society as a whole.


Religious Intolerance as Social Problem

Many people believe that they accept and understand the religious beliefs of others for them to get along with them. According to Coffey, respecting the choice of another person to practice their religion does not essentially imply that one must believe in that religion. In the present society, people are faced with choices of whether to tolerate the actions and practices of those around them. Most frequently, people tend to ignore the actions or practices of those around them when they are not personally affected by these actions. For instance, if an individual dresses in unpleasant manner or uses inappropriate conduct to another individual, most often, such individual is ignored or simply overlooked. However, this might not be true for religion. This is because most societies will rarely ignore the religious differences, and this has been a major cause of hatred, violence and deaths around the universe. When people argue concerning tolerating other religions and the beliefs, it implies that the need for tolerance in general is not as significant as the impact of religion intolerance. A society of individuals never simply decides overnight to commit genocide. They begin by differing, belittling the stature of those sticking to dissenting beliefs.

Sociological Theories

One of the straightforward ways of justifying intolerance resides in pragmatic theories, and individuals endorsing pragmatic justification of tolerance. According to these theories, the society might not approve the practices or beliefs of other religion, and collectively, it might not be capable of preventing intolerance from taking place. Several defenders of religious tolerance have revealed pragmatic justifications to be too weak for their liking. This is because it is not dependent on circumstances, which can change.

Another sociological theory explaining religious intolerance is minority theories. According to this theory, tolerance refers to an attitude of the mind implying non-judgment acceptance of different races. Nussbaum pointed out that it seems that the society will be warranted in being intolerant towards religious practices of minorities if the only basis for tolerating the practices of minority is calculating the costs of suppressing minority groups.

Religious persecution theories also explain religious intolerance. Historically, people were persecuted for not believing in certain faith. Certain countries, especially extremist Islamic ones, exhibit persecution. These theories are conventionally construed as arguing for religious toleration on grounds that religious persecution is not effective, and therefore irrational. By arguing in this manner, this theory assumes that the major point of religious persecution is instilling certain beliefs in people instead of changing their practices. Nevertheless, the claim that intimidation cannot be efficient in changing religious beliefs is an assertion not explicitly based on relevant psychological evidence.

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Implications of Religious Intolerance

Religious intolerance and persecution, which frequently follows it, is not a new issue. In Europe, the rise of nationalism was followed by state actions which resulted in evictions and persecutions of communities that had not subscribed to any established religion. In the 19th century, throughout Eastern and Central Europe, religious minorities, such as Jews, Turks Hungarians, Serbs and Macedonia were driven out of their homes. In several ways, what is witnessed in Africa and Asia is a re-enactment of the same tide of religious intolerance, which once swept Europe.

Religious intolerance has resulted in the death of millions of people all over the world. The Anti-Christian violence, which was incited by religious extremists, took the form of killing of Christians in the tribal Gujrat region in India. In Nigeria, many people have lost lives in the hands of extremist sect referred to as Boko Haram. One cannot talk about religious intolerance and fail to point out the wars waged over religious intolerance between the Islam and Israelis. This was have left untold suffering to innocent civilians to children, and displaced millions of people.

Another implication of religious intolerance is discrimination. People facing this social problem are likely to be affected by being excluded from social activities. This is because they are marked as different and sociably inacceptable due to their beliefs. Small communities, especially those with a religion that differs from the majoritys religion, are also likely to face discrimination, and might be denied recognition.

Views of Social Science Experts Concerning Religious Intolerance

Most social science experts believe that religious intolerance has become more prevalent. Most believe that it is an issue that can be solved through liberal-mindedness. According to Aosved & Long, liberal-mindedness is what social workers require in order to guarantee social advance. Liberal-mindedness requires having an open mind and an outreaching heart. According to Adams, et al., social workers have to teach communities concerning liberal-mindedness. This is because it is the most important issue the entire world has stood for, and should stand for in the future.

Solutions to Religious Intolerance

The first solution to religious intolerance is acceptance. According to Aosved & Long, acceptance and disagreement are two extremely different things. It is possible to disagree with a certain belief, and to accept it as valid for others. Different religions all seem to teach a type of non-judgment. Nevertheless, the same people taught by these religions continue engaging in judging. It almost appears like if one accepts another religion as legitimate then his or her own religion diminishes. This is actually wrong, and fuels intolerance. Acceptance of other religion, even if it is not appealing to oneself, can significant demystify intolerance.

Dialogue can be another solution to religious intolerance There are no doubts that religious conflicts in certain regions of the world still go on because dialogue channels have not been opened. Governments should devote themselves to promoting composite dialogue between conflicting religions across the universe. This is because it can be non-partisan, and has the capability to listen the views from both sides. Without opening these channels, the disagreeing religions cannot promise to coexist peacefully.


Religious intolerance is a situation where one or group sees another other people as different from themselves, and often at lower level of humanity, because of the variations in religious beliefs. Religious persecution theories and minority theories explain religious intolerance. Religious intolerance has resulted in the death, discrimination and persecution of millions of people all over the world from time immemorial. Opening dialogue channels and encouraging people to accept, even if not agreeing with, other individuals choice of religion are the solutions to religious intolerance.

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