Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: A Chorus of Faiths: A Program That Builds Interfaith Youth Leaders

Faith In Action: Religious Bullying

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Copy both handouts for all participants. Handout 3, Religious Prejudice Simmers, is for Part 1 of this activity. Set aside Handout 4, Anti-Bullying Resources, to distribute at a subsequent meeting when the group will do Part 2.
  • Plan a specific date and time for participants to return to the group with their completed research on bullying policies and complete Part 2 of this activity-ideally, the next workshop meeting.
  • Post blank newsprint.

Description of Activity

In this two-part activity, participants explore issues of religious prejudice in the local community through a story from Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core.

Part 1

Distribute Handout 3, Religious Prejudice Simmers. Ask volunteers to read the piece aloud, one paragraph per person. Then, engage participants in a conversation about the story, beginning with these questions:

  • Has an incident like this ever happened at your school? What did you, or others, do about it?
  • Have you ever felt bullied because of your faith? What was that like? How was it addressed by: you, friends, families, and/or authorities?
  • When the article originally appeared in USA Today, readers posted a variety of comments. (Share this sampling with the group.) How might you respond to people with these or similar opinions?
    • "The only way to change students' behavior is to change their perceptions of other faiths, and parents, rather than educators, hold the key."
    • "Often the world we live in offers difficult and unfair challenges. Learning to deal with them is a defining aspect of maturity. No amount of adult supervision or legislative tinkering will ever level the playing field."
    • "Until Muslims start speaking out against terrorism and the militancy of Islam they will get no sympathy here."
    • "The fact is that all religions are LIES, and that we would be better to simply get rid of all religions. They are nothing more than the likes and dislikes of people who lived ages ago, foisted upon the people out of the fear of a 'god' that never existed, doesn't exist, and never will exist."
  • What kind of policies on bullying does your school have? Do they include specific language about sexual harassment? Harassment based on race or ethnicity? Gender or sexual orientation? Religion? If you do not know, seek a volunteer from each school represented in the group and ask them to research the matter and bring back their findings. (If some participants are home-schooled, have them research local or state anti-discrimination laws.)
  • If your school does not have rules against acts of prejudice, what can you do to change that?

Have participants brainstorm some ideas and write them on newsprint.

Part 2

Gather the group and review policies on bullying they have obtained from their schools. Invite youth to lobby for bullying policies if their school does not have them or to strengthen them, if the policies seem insufficient. Have participants formulate a plan of action. Distribute Handout 4, Anti-Bullying Resources. Brainstorm allies and make plans to solicit their support. How will youth report on their actions and the results? Schedule an additional meeting devoted to anti-bullying action and/or plan to produce and share a written report.