Religion has had its ups and downs. Now that social media outlets have become more popular, people have more to say. Things like stereotyping, bias, racial profiling, are talked about in social media outlets for reasons like spreading awareness, support, or even bullying and racism. Media in general, have always used their platform to spread news whether their good or bad, to create stereotypes, whether their true or not. Personal opinions are most definitely fueled by social media outlets, regardless of their intentions. It most definitely affects how we view and understand religious beliefs because we are listening to someone talking about it. People join a religion for many reasons like family culture, support, help, etc. For many, religion brings cultural values, beliefs, ritual practices, meaning, and much more (Religion in Contemporary Society, 2017).
2. Religious profiling, like racial profiling, perpetuates negative stereotypes held by the public. In a recent Gallup poll, most Americans held an unfavorable view of Islam. Many state legislatures are considering “anti-Sharia” legislation that would come close to criminalizing the practice of Islam. American Muslims’ efforts to build mosques where their families and communities can gather have encountered protests, lawsuits, and even zoning law changes. Most disturbing, the FBI reports that there were over 1,500 hate crimes against Muslims between 2001 and 2009. The brutal murder of Shaima Alawadi, a mother of five, is only the most recent example. Our law enforcement agencies have a solemn responsibility to keep us safe. Nevertheless, religious profiling, like racial profiling, betrays our values without any benefit to our security. Instead of relying on stereotypes, law enforcement officials should focus on signs of actual criminal conduct. Furthermore, they should build solid and trusting relationships with American Muslims communitiesrelationships that will enable us to fight our common enemy. In today’s society, stereotyping, bias, and racial profiling intersect with religion in that religion is often the cause of discriminatory stereotypes. For example, people who practice Islam often face discrimination because of false stereotypes about the religion’s connection to terrorism. Religion is also used to justify discriminatory behavior, such as how some Christians cite the Bible to discriminate against same-sex couples Religious profiling is also ineffective. Terrorists come from diverse backgrounds and, as law enforcement officials acknowledge, are aware of profiles and how to avoid them. As they comprise a miniscule fraction of any given religion or ethnicity, it is unlikely that programs focusing on entire communities will be successful in identifying terrorists. For example, there is no evidence that the NYPD’s infiltration of mosques uncovered any terrorist plots that did not originate with the police themselves. Moreover, as with racial profiling, religious profiling alienates those profiled, in this case, American Muslims. This is a step backward for counterterrorism efforts, as the cooperation of Muslim communities has been crucial to foiling some 35 percent of recent terrorist plots.
Currently, there are multiple ways in which religion intersects with stereotyping and bias. For the most part, these obstacles arise at times when the differences between community members are too challenging and require additional effort to overcome the problem. According to Maydell (2018), mass media is one of the key generators of stereotypical thinking and biased worldviews due to the magnitude of its force. Even a person’s religious beliefs could be altered by the media if the required ideas are conveyed compellingly and in a rather persuasive manner. This intangible agenda helps the media control how certain societal cohorts are portrayed and perceived. Irrespective of a person’s outlook on certain sensitive topics, they could become a victim of prejudice and firmly delivered lies or misconceptions.
The first example of how mass media operates bias and dishonesties to address religion is the level of treatment received by minorities. According to Shamilishvili (2019), religious minorities are practically enslaved by stereotypes because different roles in society are rather hard to break or amend when they intertwine with religious convictions. This is a significant problem for the contemporary community because it forces people to remain unaware and only pick one side when looking at ethical and socio-economic dilemmas. A similar idea is also covered in Luqiu and Yang’s (2018) article, where the authors addressed the imminent power of mass media in terms of covering terrorism or association with a certain group. In China, for instance, Islam is often displayed as a threatening religion in order to maintain domestic social stability (Luqiu & Yang, 2018). Thus, mass media could be utilized to oppress followers of specific religions in order to give more power to the local government.