Definition of Discrimination
This definition was taken from an Army EO Training Paper and is the accepted definition for MPN.
Religious discrimination definition:
Any action, intended or unintended, that unlawfully or unjustly results in unequal treatment of a person or groups based on religion and for which distinctions are not rational considerations.
Elements of Religious Discrimination
- discounting the beliefs of others
- religious jokes or slurs
- compulsory services
- exclusionary prayer
- stereotyping people by their religion
- nonassociation due to religion
- failure to provide alternative services
- lack of concern
Religious discrimination, like other forms of discrimination, can take place in many ways. Some of the most common elements of religious discrimination are:
- Discounting the religious beliefs of others. If a person doesn't have strong religious views, or if they have strong religious views different from yours, then it's really easy to say "My beliefs are important, yours really aren't." Or saying "You know that group over there, that's not really a religion." This type of discounting also occurs when an individual with weak religious beliefs criticizes or discounts the strongly held religious beliefs of others.
- Religious jokes/slurs. Religious jokes and slurs are no different than ethnic, racial, or sexist jokes. It is important to be aware that religious jokes can harm unit cohesion. An example of a religious slur may be: "Bible Thumper", "Holy Roller", "Jewing somebody down", "bottom of the totem pole".
- Compulsory services. Religious services cannot be compulsory. A unit prayer breakfast, for instance, might be categorized as a compulsory religious service if attendance is mandatory. If a soldier dies, the commander must consider whether to honor that soldier with a memorial service or a memorial ceremony. A memorial service is a religious gathering, and must be voluntary. A memorial ceremony is a unit gathering with a patriotic focus. It is a time where the unit can express its closure, grief, and appreciation for a fallen comrade. While Scriptures and prayers may be included, the ceremony must have a military or patriotic in focus and design. A memorial ceremony may be mandatory.
- Exclusionary prayer. Another way that one may discriminate is through exclusionary prayer, for example, closing a public prayer "In Jesus Name".
- Stereotyping people by their religion.
- Not associating with people because of their religious beliefs.
- Not making arrangements to provide alternative services. This is the failure to consider the religious or worship needs of all individuals in the unit.
- Lack of concern. Often times, individuals who belong to religious minorities are overlooked when scheduling or posting services. Also, at times, leaders may neglect their duty to provide for the religious needs of soldiers within the constraints of the mission.