religiocism

I teach English as a second language to international students at a local university here in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. The vast majority of my students are Saudis. They are Arab Muslims. Today we talked a little bit about racism because some of them have sadly experienced it in this city. We agreed that a racist is someone who believes his or her race, because of certain qualities, is superior to others. While we were talking about this (me a Christian in a room full of Muslims) I thought of the word religiocism. Could there be such a thing? Are there people who believe that their religion, because of certain qualities, is superior to others? One could argue that racism is based on something one has not chosen but is assigned. I did not choose to be Caucasian. My students did not choose to be Arab. Although one could also argue that the certain qualities of his or her race can be chosen. But one could also argue that I did not choose to be a Christian, just as my students certainly did not choose to be Muslim, even though we could happily choose to accept our assigned identities. So the question is: How does one happily choose to accept his or her racial identity without believing it is superior to others? Also: How does one happily choose to accept his or her religious identity without believing it is superior to others? For I would argue that just as racism increasingly threatens to erode and destroy human relations, so does religiocism.

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