Religious Discrimination Etiquette 6 Rules: How To Avoid It Best

The crucial religious discrimination etiquette rules. The appropriate behaviors to avoid the most common forms of religious discrimination. Follow these rules to be inclusive and avoid offending others.

What religious discrimination etiquette is

Religious discrimination etiquette is the set of rules to be inclusive and avoid discrimination based on someone’s religion and religious beliefs. Such rules include:

  • How to train yourself to avoid religious discrimination.
  • The inappropriate behaviors to avoid.
  • How to deal with religious discrimination.

Everyone should respect religious discrimination etiquette to avoid discriminatory behaviors, respect others, and be inclusive.

If you experience or witness discrimination based on religion, follow the etiquette rules to appropriately deal with the offending party.

General religious discrimination etiquette principles

People tend to feel more comfortable with someone who is similar to them. Such as someone with the same gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, ideas, and so on. Thus, when people perceive diversity, they may get uncomfortable or defensive.

Religious discrimination etiquette is based on three main principles:

  • Help people positively perceive religious diversity and avoid prejudice.
  • Ensure equal treatment.
  • Avoid any behavior that can offend others based on their religious beliefs.
how to avoid discrimination based on religion

Religious discrimination etiquette rules

1) Train yourself to get comfortable with religious diversity

Instead of focusing on the perceived diversity across groups of people by their religion, it is best to train ourselves to focus on the similarities. The things that we have in common with other people are disproportionally more than the differences. We all eat, drink, breathe, spend time with someone we love, have fun, work, expect fair compensation for our work, and so on. Our religious beliefs do not affect such similarities at all. Thus, they are not as relevant as one might think.

While there might be some behavioral and cultural differences across people who follow different religions, such differences do not affect our basic rights and values as individuals. Try your best to respect other people’s religious customs, such as prayer time, religious holidays and traditions, and dietary restrictions.

2) Avoid generalization based on religion

Never generalize. People can choose one religion over another based on multiple elements. Such as cultural background, age, personal values, personal experience, education, and so on. The same person may strictly respect some religious principles while interpreting other rules in a more flexible way.

3) Adopt an inclusive and neutral language 

Never refer to someone by their behaviors, values, or religious beliefs. Similarly, avoid any term that can be perceived as derogatory based on someone’s religion.

Avoid words, thoughts, or sentences that imply segregation. Such as “we” as opposed to “you” (your group) or “they”.

4) Challenge your own prejudice toward religion

Prejudice leads to racism and discrimination. Thus, to avoid religious discrimination, we need to fight our own prejudices.

Train yourself to challenge your own prejudice. Ask yourself whether your opinion about someone is based on your experience or on what other people say. It is best to base our opinions on our own first-hand experience. We cannot rely solely on what others may say or may have experienced, as they might be biased.

Similarly, ask yourself whether your opinion about someone would change if the person followed a different religion. Are there objective facts that informed your opinion? Or is your opinion based mostly on perceived factors?

5) Avoid sensitive topics

Avoid conversation topics that can be controversial, too personal, or at risk of misinterpretation. People that have experienced significant discrimination based on their religion may be particularly sensitive to some topics. Politics, history, or controversial subjects may be inappropriate, as they often depend on personal preferences and interpretations.

It is most appropriate to make small talk to get to know other people. Small talk help build rapport, understand boundaries, and avoid venturing into conversation topics that may be sensitive.

6) Be tolerant of religious discrimination mistakes

Discrimination based on religion is wrong and it should be prevented. However, it is the best etiquette to avoid confrontation. Instead, when possible, choose tolerance and dialogue.

People are generally good and want to be good. Religious discrimination often comes from a lack of education about equality or exposure to diversity. Thus, the best cure against religious discrimination is to patiently educate people and expose them to diversity in a non-threatening way.

When someone makes an offensive remark, do not confront them. Instead, patiently make them aware that their remark or behavior can be offensive to you. Briefly explain your reasons.

Try your best to not sound judgemental or self-righteous. Instead, consider yourself privileged because you received education about equality or exposure to diversity, while the other person clearly did not.

Do not expect immediate results. People need time to learn, absorb experiences, understand their mistakes, and learn from them. Be tolerant and have faith in others and their goodwill.

How to deal with religious discrimination

Religious discrimination etiquette in your social circle

Help friends, relatives, and people you care about to correct their mistakes. Make them aware of what religious discrimination is and why it should be avoided. Be tolerant and non-confrontational about their views. Try to start a dialogue and help them understand what behaviors to avoid and why. If the other person does not show any sign of improvement over time, it may be best to reconsider your relationship with them.

Religious discrimination etiquette at work or in the office

Every employer has the duty to create a work environment that is welcoming and inclusive. While a tolerant attitude is most appropriate in informal and social circles, religious discrimination should not be tolerated in any professional or institutional setting.

If you experience or witness religious discrimination at work, you can politely correct the offending party. If the issue persists, avoid confrontation. Instead, involve your human resources function. When you find yourself in a work environment where religious discrimination is endemic, do not start a crusade and leave.

Religious discrimination etiquette at schools and universities

Educational institutions have the duty to educate people about equality. Thus, any discriminatory behavior in such venues cannot be tolerated and must be corrected.

If you experience or witness religious discrimination in an educational institution, you should report it immediately to the institution’s governing bodies. If the issue persists, it is perfectly appropriate to escalate it to any supervisory institution.

religious discrimination worst mistakes

Religious discrimination equality etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst religious discrimination etiquette mistakes. 

  • 10/10. Discriminating based on religion
  • 10/10. Tolerating persistent religious discrimination.
  • 9/10. Making generalizations based on religion.
  • 8/10. Speaking in a non-inclusive language.