Discrimination in America

Jasmine - East Lansing, Michigan
Entered on December 3, 2008

America is the land of the free, the home of the brave, and place to practice religious freely. However, how “freely” can religious groups practice their religion without causing conflict with other people? I believe that there is discrimination toward religious groups in the United States.

In most religions, there is a certain way one dresses. Buddhists wear a type a robe, the Muslim women wear a type of scarf on their head, Jewish wear a type of cap and the Sikh have turbans and beards. In A New Religious America, Diana Eck proclaims that people that look different can strike an uneasiness or fear to Americans, because he or she does not know that person who looks different or for the fear that the face of the United States is changing. Some religious groups are discriminated from different opportunities that an “ordinary” American can get. In Eck’s book a Sikh man described his experience of going for a job interview. The Sikh man ended up changing his persona from a bearded, turbaned, Sikh man to a clean-cut businessman. He said this change was necessary to even be thought about getting the job.

A person ignorant to another religion can play a factor on religious discrimination. Most people that do not know about a particular religion have this stereotypical idea of what it is about. People in the United States develop these religious stereotypes through the media. In A New Religious America, Diana Eck describes stereotypes to be the pictures in our heads, images that are created by one group to describe, label, and caricature another. Stereotypes can lead to prejudice. Eck also defines prejudice to be prejudging people and groups on stereotypical images. In the media, Muslims have been given a negative connotation. When people look at Muslims, they are terrified because they connect Muslims to terrorism. Eck talks about one of her Muslim friends in her book. Her Muslim friend tells her story about how she went to the toy store to buy some toy guns for her sons. While she was picking out the toys for her sons, a boy looked at her terrified. Misinterpretation of another religion causes religious discrimination. Because of stereotypes, people are fearful of other religious groups. Most of all stereotypes of religious groups often lead to hate crimes in America. Hate crimes is a result of religious tension in America. It has been shown in Eck’s book that some of the hate crimes that have happened were beatings and desecration of churches.

Even though America is the land of free religious practice, there is still discrimination toward different religious groups. There is discrimination based on what one wears as apart of their religion. Discrimination is the result of stereotype and prejudice. In essence, the United States does not have true religious freedom.