Islamophiobia, antisemitism, and other forms of discrimination against religious minorities are a stain on society and they’re on the rise. Religious minorities need special protection in law and in social conduct generally.

Set against that, some religious claims can have enormous social impact, including religious businesses refusing to serve gay customers, schools being obliged to promote religious viewpoints, women being denied the same status as men, and so on. Atheists typically respond by wanting to grant no special status for religions.

How should we reconcile these two features?

I approach these questions from an atheist standpoint: theological doctrine is mostly false and so cannot be used to underpin special status or rights for religious minorities.

Rather, we have to see religious as social and cultural constructs, as much as they are lived embodiments of theological doctrine. We should also view race as a social and cultural construct. We can then draw meaningful parallels and view Islamophobia and antisemitism as forms of racism.

The conclusion I am tentatively working towards is that we should distinguish conceptually between religions qua religions and religions qua oppressed minorities (for those that are). This allows us to see why, in a predominantly Christian country, what counts as acceptable treatment and protection may differ between a Christian and a Muslim.

This is a project I hope to begin work on seriously in 2022.