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An interesting ABC News experiment about religious bigotry and hate

ABC News stages anti-Muslim bigotry and studies public reactions

Sam with Naif. Naif is studying for a degree in business management in the US.

My Saudi friend Naif showed me this ABC News video. Naif is an exchange student studying at a US southern university. While his overall experiences as a student in America have been positive, he says he’s often afraid for Americans to know he is a Muslim. While he has experienced first-hand discrimination and prejudice in the US, let it be known, Naif loves America. He is very appreciative of his time in the US, and speaks fondly of all the close friendships he has made there. He writes off the “crazy bigotry” as simply a few zealots who don’t have a good understanding of him or his faith.

Note that this video (below) is an ABC staged event using a professional actor posing as a business-owning bigot. The project took place some time ago, but was only yesterday brought to my attention. But watch these bakery shop customers re-act to his hate speech. Some of them defend the “shop owners” bigotry either verbally or through their silence. The good news is that others rightfully defend the Muslim woman who was facing abuse.

Certainly bigotry and religious discrimination, in America or any other country in the world, is evil and wrong. Such callous intolerance crushes the human spirit.

Watch this short ABC News video, and then note the consequences of bigotry and discrimination I’ve listed below. We all want to be appreciated and accepted by others. Indivduals (and groups of people) suffer from intolerance. Intolerance can, itself, breed terrorism.

Painful effects of discrimination, bigotry and intolerance

Negative Self-Image

People who experience prejudice often develop a negative self-image.  A person who has experienced discrimination will often believe the person who is prejudiced against him is right.  He will believe that society is right about him and that there is nothing redeeming about himself.  If the person is being excluded for something he cannot change, such as race, gender, or sexual orientation, then it is even more devastating because there is nothing the victim can do to help himself.  This leads to self-loathing and self-hatred.

Mental Illness

Due to the constant self-hatred that prejudice can cause, mental illness is often not far behind.  Depression and anxiety often come along with prejudice because victims cannot change who they are and conform with the notions of society.  Victims are always measuring themselves and coming up short, and this can lead to mental illness.  Some people who have been exposed to severe forms of prejudice even exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.  They may exhibit anxiety because they cannot please people or become an accepted member of society.


There is a lot of anger on the part of people who have experienced prejudice.  It is frustrating for someone to be told that she is not good enough, especially when she cannot change the offending circumstance.  For instance, in the case of race, a man cannot change the fact that he is black, Asian or Hispanic. He cannot fit in with what’s considered to be the accepted norm.  This can cause a tremendous amount of rage against those who are prejudiced and are not accepting. This rage can find outlets in violence in all of its forms. It can even breed what has become known as “home-grown terrorism.”


Some who have experienced prejudice find that they feel vulnerable in the world or fearful of society.  The world becomes a scary place for them, and it can be difficult for them to go out and face it daily life.  A victim of prejudice begins to fear that people will not accept him.  He begins to look at the world as a hostile and frightening place.  If a child experiences people constantly tearing him down, bullying him or shunning him because of the person he is, his outlook on people, especially the group of people that victimize him, is going to be one of fear and distrust.

Lasting effects

The effects of prejudice and racism are all around–constant fighting in Israel and Palestine, wars in the Middle East due to religion and politics–in big cities and small towns all over the world because of the color of  someone’s skin. This affects mankind on all continents and can lead to cynicism and  hopelessness, civil conflict and war.

People of faith can change the world one heart at a time

The maxim of the “golden rule” is exemplified in this painting by Vincent van Gogh of Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan.

Wars in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world, much of it is due to religious extremists and politics. In big cities and small towns around the globe, individuals are being alienated and segregated because of ethnicity or faith. Terrorism, bombings, war and strife–these actions affect all mankind deeply.

Preventing prejudice starts with one person–you. Changing hearts and hurtful feelings towards one another, one person at a time, is the best way to overcome racism and violence due to misguided thinking.

As a concept, the “Golden Rule” has a history that long predates the term . As a concept of “the ethic of reciprocity,” it has its roots in a wide range of world cultures and is a basic standard by which different peoples and faiths seek to resolve conflicts.

In our organizations, Sunday schools, churches, mosques, synagogues and temples we have a divine obligation to educate people about intolerance and prejudice.

In the Jewish Torah we read, “Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:18). Also, the New Testament and the Qur’an both, as well as the holy books of many other religions, teach that discrimination and bigotry are wrong.

Jesus taught us that we should treat others as we would like others to treat us. “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31 KJV).

This Golden Rule was also taught by Mohammad. It is said that a Bedouin came to the prophet, grabbed the stirrup of his camel and said: “O messenger of God! Teach me something to go to heaven.” Mohammad replied, “As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them. Now let the stirrup go! This maxim is enough for you; go and act in accordance with it!” (Katab al-Kafi, vol 2, p 146).

For some excellent classroom activities for educating your congregation or group about prejudice click here!


June 30, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. […] what happens when ABC news goes under-cover, documenting bystanders reactions when they see a Texas coffee-shop owner refusing to serve a […]

    Pingback by What Would You Do? - Middle East Experience | July 4, 2012 | Reply

  2. Reblogged this on Landfallprods's Blog.

    Comment by landfallprods | July 4, 2012 | Reply

    • Thank you!

      Comment by Sam Shropshire | July 10, 2012 | Reply

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