Race and Religion
To clarify before this starts, I’m a humanist and I can only speak from my experience in England, as that is where I’ve lived all my life. Around 7% of the British population are people from Asian countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Bangladesh, but in my school the percentage was much higher.
In primary school, (I’m not sure how the school system works in America but primary school is ages 4 – 11), my school had prayer time. Prayer time is a worship assembly, in this case for Muslims, so they could pray on a Friday, even though they were at school.
A new child had started school that week, he was white and British and most people in the class instantly presumed he was a Christian, because of his skin colour and nationality. On Friday he asked the teacher whether he could join in with prayer time. The teacher politely asked whether he was a Muslim and when the boy said yes, the teacher said that he could participate in Friday prayer.
When the new boy was about to enter into the assembly, he had to explain to everybody that he was a Muslim, and soon he was getting responses such as, “But you’re white,” and “Only Asian people can be Muslims.” It must have made the poor boy feel a bit isolated, as not only did his Christian / atheist classmates not accept that he was a Muslim, the Islamic children wouldn’t properly accept him into their prayer time.
Many assumptions are made about your faith based on the colour of your skin and the country you come from. In a way, these assumptions are valid, for instance, according to http://malaysiandigest.com/ a massive 96.4% of people living in Pakistan practise the religion of Islam. Here in England a big race – religion stereotype is that if you’re white, you are therefore a Christian, there is much evidence against this though.
Over here in Britain, two in every three white people identify as Christian, which makes the white = Christian presumption relatively reliable in Britain. Also it isn’t unreasonable to be surprised when a white British person practises the faith of Islam as only 0.5% of white Brits are Muslim. (Source: NSA)
In the USA, 70% of the population is Christian. And white Christians make up only 46% of the Christian population. (source: Pew Research Center). And after doing some maths I figured out that means 45% of white Americans are Christian.
It’s true that many people are constantly forgetting that presumptions are only useful when they don’t have information to tell them otherwise. If someone tells you that they identify as a christian or as a muslim etc believe them!
Even though there is some obvious links between people’s race and their religion, there should be no presumption that Asians cannot be Christians and that White Brits/Americans cannot practise the religions of Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and so on.
There may be a statistical link between race and religion, however it is important to judge each person as an individual, as the numbers and the stats don’t necessarily represent this individual.
Everyone has the right to freedom of religion, no matter what religion it is they want to practise and I think that religious groups and churches, temples, mosques etc should welcome people into their groups regardless of the person’s race or colour as long as they seriously want to follow the religion that this group worships.
Thanks for reading.