Maya Z. Massachusetts

Religious Descrimination

How religious discrimination is on the rise in America

Dear Future President,

My name is Maya. I am an eighth grader at Meridian Academy and one of the 6 million Jews living in America. I live in a town with a large Jewish population in greater Boston. However, a couple months ago, when going on a walk through a park, I noticed swastikas and phrases like "Hitler Was Right" spray-painted on benches and trees. The next week, I learned that the public high school in my town was forced to repaint certain parts of the buildings due to the amount of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic propaganda covering the walls. Just last week, my mom showed me a New York Times Article stating how antisemitism and Islamophobia was on the rise in New England. As I've come to notice the growing amount of religious discrimination in my town, I have began to see it as a problem we must all discuss.

In this country, we talk about religious discrimination being a relic of the past, gone after Hitler was defeated. In fact, a couple days ago, a classmate of mine asked if religious discrimination was even a problem in America. To most, it appears that there isn't. If you walk down a street in Boston, it's likely that at least one person you see is Jewish or Muslim. However, due to multiple terrorist events, there has been a sudden growth of religious discrimination in America.

Today, Muslims are often viewed as money-stealing terrorists who have a bomb in their pockets and their hands in the federal taxes. I myself have often been told this myth. That isn't to say that the people that believe this are racist, sexist whites living in the South. Instead, they are usually scared people, trying to find someone to blame for terrorism. However, blaming 1.7 billion people for actions done by a couple individuals is very wrong. Having not studied the writings of the Prophet Muhammad, I can't preach about the Islamic Religion. However, I can confidently say that by what I have read and researched, nowhere in the Qur'an does it condone killing or any type of terrorist action. The Qur'an actually says the opposite. Most of its teachings are positive messages and advice to help people navigate through life in a modest and rightful way.

There also is a common misunderstanding of Judaism. After Christianity became a widespread religion, its ties to Judaism were quickly revoked. Jews were quickly banned from society, killed, or forced to convert. The government of many countries described Jews as greedy, selfish, thieves that should be excluded from society. Although this happened many years ago and countless strides have been taken to eliminate antisemitism from society, from what I have experienced, there is a long way to go.

Firstly, it would be helpful if social media platforms would eliminate any users who post anti-Semitic or Islamophobic content onto the internet. A New York Times article published a story in which they interviewed countless Jewish journalists who had been criticized about their religion for hours on many social media platforms. The Republican nominee once posted on Twitter, a picture that compared his opponent to a "Jew". He was blatantly comparing Jews to thieves and crooks, a popular misconception. However, a number of his supporters afterwards responded with anti-Semitic and Islamophobic slurs and encouraged him to put out more of this content. Twitter took charge and forced the post to be deleted. Many people were outraged. How could a country be free if they don't let their people have the freedom of speech? However, what they don't understand is that although there is freedom of speech, there are certain things that should never be said.

As the next President of the United States, I advise you to consider choosing a Supreme Court Justice that will not suppress their thinking in an anti-Semitic or Islamophobic way. I also believe that children should be taught the main teachings of different types of religions. When going to public schools, I was often taught the principles of Christianity while the rest of my class didn't even know what Judaism signified. This caused many of them to be inconsiderate when talking about different religions. If they had been educated on this topic, they would realize how the things they said could hurt someone’s feelings and could make them feel discriminated against.

I hope while you are in office, you will shed some light on this usually unspoken problem. Religion over the years has become a confusing mess, and as we continue to grow as a society, we must consider what part religion will play. Will it separate us, or will it unite us? Will it make us stronger or will it destroy us all?


Maya Z.