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How can we learn to become more tolerant and respectful of each others’ faiths and beliefs?

Religion can be a fundamental aspect of a person’s identity, often closely tied to their cultural background and personal beliefs, often a deeply personal and meaningful aspect of their lives. Sadly, it can also be the source of much conflict and division between individuals and among populations, where religious intolerance and discrimination lead to harmful consequences, such as prejudice, violence, social exclusion, and even genocide.

In this blog post, we will explore why religious tolerance and respect are crucial to developing inclusive and diverse communities, and to building fair and just societies. We’ve also got some practical tips to help individuals and communities wishing to develop these values. So, let’s dive in!

Religion: a protected characteristic

Protected characteristics are personal attributes or characteristics that are protected by law from discrimination and unfair treatment. These characteristics are typically considered to be intrinsic to an individual and are often associated with their identity, background, or physical traits. The protected characteristics vary depending on the country or region, but some of the most common ones include:

  1. Age: Protection against discrimination based on age, whether this be younger or older persons.

  2. Disability: Protection against discrimination based on physical or mental disability, including access to employment, goods, and services.
  3. Gender reassignment: Protection against discrimination based on gender identity, including individuals who are transitioning or have transitioned to a different gender.

  4. Marriage and civil partnership: Protection against discrimination based on marital status, whether a person is single, married, or in a civil partnership.
  5. Pregnancy and maternity: Protection against discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or maternity leave..
  6. Race: Protection against discrimination based on ethnicity, skin colour, nationality, or ancestry.
  7. Religion or belief: Protection against discrimination based on religious beliefs, practices, or affiliation.
  8. Sex: Protection against discrimination based on biological sex or gender, including discrimination based on sexual orientation..
  9. Sexual orientation: Protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation, whether someone is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual.
a group of diverse children holding hands and dancing and singing in a circle

Protecting each of these nine characteristics promotes a culture of inclusivity and diversity and is crucial for building fair and just societies. They are essential for ensuring that everyone has the same opportunities and access to resources, regardless of their personal characteristics.

Discriminating against individuals based on their religion has a substantial impact on their lives, often resulting in limited access to education, employment, housing, and other essential opportunities. Fortunately, with religion and belief now protected characteristics, it is illegal to discriminate against individuals because of their religious beliefs, practices, or affiliation. This protection is recognized in many legal frameworks, such as human rights laws, employment laws, and anti-discrimination laws. Safeguarding religion in this way acknowledges the significance of diverse religious beliefs and practices and creates a framework for individuals and communities to coexist peacefully, irrespective of their religious background.

What are the benefits of being tolerant and respectful of one another’s religions?

  1. Promotes peace and harmony: Religious tolerance and respect can promote peaceful coexistence and harmony among people of different religions. When people respect each other’s beliefs and practices, it reduces the chances of conflict or misunderstandings.

  2. Fosters understanding: When people are tolerant and respectful of each other’s religions, it helps to foster understanding between different cultures and traditions. This can lead to increased empathy and compassion for people from different backgrounds.

  3. Encourages diversity: Religious tolerance and respect encourage diversity by allowing people to express their religious beliefs and practices freely themselves, whilst it inhibits the forced imposition of religious beliefs on others. This creates a rich tapestry of cultures and traditions that can enhance the social fabric of a society.
  4. Reduces discrimination: Tolerance and respect for different religions can help to reduce discrimination based on religion. It can create a more inclusive and equitable society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
  5. Promotes cooperation: When people are tolerant and respectful of each other’s religions, it can promote cooperation and collaboration between different groups. This can lead to greater social and economic benefits for everyone.

Simple steps to help us be more tolerant and respectful of each other’s religions:

  • Learn about different religions: Educate yourself about the beliefs and practices of different religions. This can help you understand and appreciate the diversity of religious traditions and practices..

  • Avoid making assumptions or stereotypes: Don’t assume that people of a particular religion hold certain beliefs or practices. Avoid making assumptions or stereotypes about people based on their religious background.
  • Be respectful: Show respect for other people’s religious beliefs and practices, even if you don’t agree with them. Avoid using derogatory or offensive language when talking about someone’s religion.Simultaneously, we also work to stretch the learning participants, so they feel suitably challenged and inspired to keep actively engaged in their studies.
  • Listen actively: When talking to someone about their religion, listen actively and show interest in what they are saying. Don’t interrupt or dismiss their beliefs.
  • Don’t impose your own beliefs: Avoid imposing your beliefs on others. Respect people’s right to their own religious beliefs and practices, even if you don’t agree with them.
  • Build bridges: Look for opportunities to build bridges between different religions. Attend interfaith events or seek out opportunities to collaborate with people of different religious backgrounds.
  • Stand up to discrimination If you witness discrimination against someone based on their religion, speak up and take action to support them. This can include reporting incidents of discrimination or standing up to prejudice when you encounter it.

By following these simple steps, we can quickly learn to be more tolerant and respectful of each other’s religions, as well as contributing to the promotion of more peaceful and harmonious societies.

To accommodate generational diversity, e-learning platforms like ours needs to continually provide a variety of up-to-date learning options, such as video tutorials, interactive simulations, gamification, and social learning communities. As new technologies and virtual methodologies develop at a (frighteningly!) quickening speed, please feel free to inform us of any new tools you come across that may be of benefit to our development!


Dr Clare Seymour
Clare has spent much of her professional career (over 30 years) in international settings. Part of her Doctoral research involved exploring the often hidden aspects of institutional racism. As a result she has a longstanding interest in, and passion for, promoting positive Diversity.

In addition to school music-teaching, Clare also has over 10 years’ experience working as an international music examiner – an understanding and respect for Diversity is so crucially important in every aspect of her practice.