Religious minorities’ rights and human rights in the USA

State and federal laws both protect the right to practice one’s religion, and although federal laws like the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act in some circumstances protect religious or belief minorities, domestic law does not always effectively prevent discrimination based on religion or belief, which is prohibited by international human rights treaties [1-3].

No federal law specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion or belief or, for that matter, language, two of the most significant forms of human characteristics under which discriminatory practices and policies frequently occur and negatively impact minorities. However, Title VII and the Fair Housing Act both prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion in employment and housing, respectively [4, 5].

The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Patriot Act had a negative impact on minorities, particularly Muslims and those with Arab or South Asian ancestry. The previous administration’s Muslim Ban may have unfairly targeted and adversely disadvantaged Muslims in the United States as well as Arab and South Asian Americans. Positive progress has been made with the Department of Homeland Security’s recognition that white supremacists and extreme right-wing terrorists constitute the greatest domestic terrorism threat in the nation [6-9].

The previous Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program has been replaced by the Biden Administration’s Center for Prevention, Programs, and Partnerships. The focus has shifted away from Muslims and toward a broader spectrum of individuals, including white supremacists. The Department of Homeland Security claims that CP3 is moving away from a strategy that is centered on law enforcement and is aiming for a public health and whole-society approach while working with local communities. According to civic society, the CVE program, which is ineffective and unfair, is only being pushed farther [10-12].

The National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism addresses both the importance of protecting civil rights and white nationalist violence, but worries remain. The Department of Justice has issued guidelines on profiling, but neither they nor the border are covered by them. This suggests that racial and religious profiling, commonly used against Muslims and Hispanics, is still legal in some places [13-15].

Discrimination based on religion or beliefs also affects humanists, atheists, and non-theists. Seven state constitutions continue to include illegal limits on the election of non-religious people to public office. In Tennessee, faith-based groups are allowed to decline adoptions to the “extent permissible by federal law” in Tennessee. Such a tactic is incompatible with international human rights law [16-18].

International human rights treaties forbid discrimination based on religion or belief, although domestic legislation does not always successfully prevent it. Religious discrimination is prohibited in both employment and housing under Title VII and the Fair Housing Act, respectively. It’s possible that the 2017 Muslim ban unfairly singled out and disfavored Muslims in the United States, along with Arab and South Asian Americans. The Biden Administration’s Center for Prevention, Programs, and Partnerships has taken the place of the prior Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program. The emphasis has changed from Muslims to a wider range of people, including white nationalists. Although the border is not covered by them, the Department of Justice has published rules on profiling. This implies that racial and religious profiling may still be permitted in some jurisdictions.


[1] M. A. Hamilton, “Federalism and the public good: The true story behind the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act,” Ind. LJ, vol. 78, p. 311, 2003.

[2] C. C. Lund, “Religious liberty after Gonzales: a look at state RFRAs,” SDL Rev., vol. 55, p. 466, 2010.

[3] C. L. Eisgruber and L. G. Sager, “The Vulnerability of Conscience: The Constitutional Basis for Protecting Religious Conduct,” U. Chi. L. Rev., vol. 61, p. 1245, 1994.

[4] R. Lippi-Green, “Accent, standard language ideology, and discriminatory pretext in the courts,” Language in society, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 163-198, 1994.

[5] T. Meron, “The meaning and reach of the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination,” American Journal of International Law, vol. 79, no. 2, pp. 283-318, 1985.

[6] S. Maira, “Youth culture, citizenship and globalization: South Asian Muslim youth in the United States after September 11th,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 219-231, 2004.

[7] S. M. Akram and K. R. Johnson, “Race, civil rights, and immigration law after September 11, 2001: The targeting of Arabs and Muslims,” NYU ann. surv. aM. L., vol. 58, p. 295, 2001.

[8] L. Cainkar, “The social construction of difference and the Arab American experience,” in Immigration, Incorporation, and Transnationalism: Routledge, 2017, pp. 225-256.

[9] F. Patel and M. Koushik, Countering violent extremism. Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law New York, NY, 2017.

[10] S. F. Aziz, “Losing the war of ideas: A critique of countering violent extremism programs,” Tex. Int’l LJ, vol. 52, p. 255, 2017.

[11] C. Agius, A. Edney-Browne, L. Nicholas, and K. Cook, “Anti-feminism, gender and the far-right gap in C/PVE measures,” Critical Studies on Terrorism, pp. 1-25, 2021.

[12] J. Guhl and J. Davey, “A safe space to hate: White supremacist mobilisation on telegram,” Institute for Strategic Dialogue, pp. 1-20, 2020.

[13] C. C. Joyner, “The United Nations and terrorism: rethinking legal tensions between national security, human rights, and civil liberties,” International Studies Perspectives, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 240-257, 2004.

[14] H. A. Giroux, “White nationalism, armed culture and state violence in the age of Donald Trump,” Philosophy & Social Criticism, vol. 43, no. 9, pp. 887-910, 2017.

[15] P. Wilkinson, Terrorism versus democracy: The liberal state response. Routledge, 2006.

[16] D. N. Feofanov, “Defining religion: an immodest proposal,” Hofstra L. Rev., vol. 23, p. 309, 1994.

[17] R. C. Blitt, “The Wolf Act Amendments to the US International Religious Freedom Act: Breakthrough or Breakdown,” U. Pa. JL & Pub. Aff., vol. 4, p. 151, 2018.

[18] J. T. Wilson, “Preservationism, or the Elephant in the Room: How Opponents of Same-Sex Marriage Deceive Us into Establishing Religion,” Duke J. Gender L. & Pol’y, vol. 14, p. 561, 2007.

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