Ethnoreligious Group
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Ethnoreligious Group
Yazidi girls in traditional dress

An ethnoreligious group (or an ethno-religious group), or simply an ethnoreligion, is a grouping of people who are unified by a common religious and ethnic background.[1]

Furthermore, the term ethno-religious group, along with ethno-regional and ethno-linguistic groups, is a sub-category of ethnicity and is used as evidence of belief in a common culture and ancestry.[2]

In a narrower sense, they refer to groups whose religious and ethnic traditions are historically linked.[3]


The elements that are defined as characteristics of an ethnoreligious group are "social character, historical experience, and theological beliefs".[4]

A closing of the community takes place through a strict endogamy, which is specifically for the community and that distinguishes an ethno-religious community, that is, as distinct from any other group.[5]

Defining an ethnoreligious group

In general, ethnoreligious communities define their ethnic identity not only by ancestral heritage nor simply by religious affiliation but normally through a combination of both. An ethnoreligious group has a shared history and a cultural tradition - which can be defined as religious - of its own. In many cases ethnoreligious groups are ethno-cultural groups with a traditional ethnic religion; in other cases ethnoreligious groups begin as communities united by a common faith which through endogamy developed cultural and ancestral ties.[6][7]

Some ethnoreligious groups' identities are reinforced by the experience of living within a larger community as a distinct minority. Ethnoreligious groups can be tied to ethnic nationalism if the ethnoreligious group possesses a historical base in a specific region.[8] In many ethnoreligious groups emphasis is placed upon religious endogamy, and the concurrent discouragement of interfaith marriages or intercourse, as a means of preserving the stability and historical longevity of the community and culture.



Prior to the Babylonian exile, the Israelites had already emerged as an ethnoreligious group, probably before the time of Hosea.[37]

Since the 19th century, Reform Judaism has differed from Orthodox Judaism on matters of theology and practice; however, toward the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century, the Reform movement has reoriented itself back toward certain traditions and practices it had previously relinquished (for example, wearing the tallit and/or the kippah; the use of Hebrew in the liturgy).[38] In the United States, the increasing rate of mixed marriages has led to attempts to facilitate conversion of the spouse, although conversion to facilitate marriage is strongly discouraged by traditional Jewish law.[39] If the spouse does not convert, the Reform movement will recognize patrilineal descent. Traditional interpretations of Jewish law only recognize descent along the maternal line. Many children of mixed marriages do not identify as Jews and the Reform movement only recognizes children of mixed marriages as Jewish if they "established through appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith and people."[40] In actual practice, most Reform Jews affirm patrilineal descent as a valid means of Jewish identification, particularly if the individual was "raised Jewish".[41][42]

Since the mid 1960s, Israeli national identity has become linked with Jewish identity as a result of Zionism.[43][44] In recent years some anti-Zionists have adopted a variety of theories intent on proving that contemporary Jews are descendants of converts, which in their view would render Zionism a form of modern irrational racism, while at the same time severing Jewish ties to the Land of Israel.[45] In Israel, Jewish religious courts have authority over personal status matters, which has led to friction with secular Jews who sometimes find they must leave the country in order to marry or divorce, particularly in relation to the inherited status of mamzer, the marriage of males from the priestly line, persons not recognized as Jewish by the rabbinate, and in cases of agunot. The Israeli rabbinate only recognizes certain approved Orthodox rabbis as legitimate, which has led to friction with Diaspora Jews who for centuries never had an overarching authority.


Other classical examples for ethnoreligious groups are traditional Anabaptist groups like the Old Order Amish, the Hutterites, the Old Order Mennonites and traditional groups of German speaking Mennonites from Russia, like the Old Colony Mennonites. All these groups have a shared German background, a shared German dialect as their everyday language (Pennsylvania German, Hutterisch, Plautdietsch) and a shared version of their Anabaptist faith, a shared history of several hundred years and they have accepted very few outsiders into their communities in the last 250 years. Modern proselytizing Mennonite groups, like e.g. the Evangelical Mennonite Conference whose members have lost their shared ancestry, their common ethnic language Plautdietsch, their traditional dress and other typical ethnic traditions, are not seen as ethnoreligious groups anymore.[46][47]

As legal concept


In Australian law, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 of New South Wales defines "race" to include "ethnic, ethno-religious or national origin".[48] The reference to "ethno-religious" was added by the Anti-Discrimination (Amendment) Act 1994 (NSW).[49] John Hannaford, the NSW Attorney-General at the time, explained, "The effect of the latter amendment is to clarify that ethno-religious groups, such as Jews, Muslims and Sikhs, have access to the racial vilification and discrimination provisions of the Act.... extensions of the Anti-Discrimination Act to ethno-religious groups will not extend to discrimination on the ground of religion".[13][14]

The definition of "race" in Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas) likewise includes "ethnic, ethno-religious or national origin".[50] However, unlike the NSW Act, it also prohibits discrimination on the grounds of "religious belief or affiliation" or "religious activity".[51]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom the landmark legal case Mandla v Dowell-Lee placed a legal definition on ethnic groups with religious ties, which, in turn, has paved the way for the definition of an ethnoreligious[52] group. Both Jews[15][16][17] and Sikhs[53][54][55] were determined to be considered ethnoreligious groups under the Anti-Discrimination (Amendment) Act 1994 (see above).

The Anti-Discrimination (Amendment) Act 1994 made reference to Mandla v Dowell-Lee, which defined ethnic groups as:

  1. a long shared history, of which the group is conscious as distinguishing it from other groups, and the memory of which it keeps alive;
  2. a cultural tradition of its own, including family and social customs and manners, often but not necessarily associated with religious observance. In addition to those two essential characteristics the following characteristics are, in my opinion, relevant:
  3. either a common geographical origin, or descent from a small number of common ancestors;
  4. a common language, not necessarily peculiar to the group;
  5. a common literature peculiar to the group;
  6. a common religion different from that of neighbouring groups or from the general community surrounding it;
  7. being a minority or being an oppressed or dominant group within a larger community. For example, a conquered people (say, the inhabitants of England shortly after the Norman conquest) and their conquerors might both be ethnic groups.

The significance of the case was that groups like Sikhs and Jews could now be protected under the Race Relations Act 1976.[54]

See also


  1. ^ Raymond Taras; Rajat Ganguly (7 August 2015). Understanding Ethnic Conflict. Taylor & Francis. pp. 31-. ISBN 978-1-317-34282-3.
  2. ^ Müller, Marion; Zifonun, Darius (2010-08-05). Ethnowissen: Soziologische Beiträge zu ethnischer Differenzierung und Migration (in German). Springer-Verlag. pp. 102-103. ISBN 978-3-531-92449-6.
  3. ^ Valerio-Jimenez, Omar; Vaquera-Vasquez, Santiago (2017-06-30). Latina/o Midwest Reader. University of Illinois Press. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-252-09980-9.
  4. ^ Greer, Joanne Marie; Moberg, David O.; Lynn, Monty L. (2001-04-01). Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion. BRILL. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-55938-893-1. Historically, each ethnoreligious group had its own social character, historical experience and theological beliefs. (Robert P. Swierenga 1990, p. 149)
  5. ^ Asatrian, Garnik S.; Arakelova, Victoria (2014-09-03). The Religion of the Peacock Angel: The Yezidis and Their Spirit World. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-54428-9.
  6. ^ a b c Yang and Ebaugh, p.369: "Andrew Greeley (1971) identified three types of relationships in the United States: some religious people who do not hold an ethnic identity; some people who have an ethnic identity but are not religious; and cases in which religion and ethnicity are intertwined. Phillip Hammond and Kee Warner (1993), following Harold J. Abramson (1973), further explicated the "intertwining relationships" into a typology. First is "ethnic fusion," where religion is the foundation of ethnicity, or, ethnicity equals religion, such as in the case of the Amish and Jews. The second pattern is that of "ethnic religion," where religion is one of several foundations of ethnicity. The Greek or Russian Orthodox and the Dutch Reformed are examples of this type. In this pattern, ethnic identification can be claimed without claiming the religious identification but the reverse is rare. The third form, "religious ethnicity," occurs where an ethnic group is linked to a religious tradition that is shared by other ethnic groups. The Irish, Italian, and Polish Catholics are such cases. In this pattern, religious identification can be claimed without claiming ethnic identification. Hammond and Warner also suggest that the relationship of religion and ethnicity is strongest in "ethnic fusion" and least strong in "religious ethnicity." Recently, some scholars have argued that even Jews' religion and culture (ethnicity) can be distinguished from each other and are separable (Chervyakov, Gitelman, and Shapiro 1997; Gans 1994)."
  7. ^ a b c d Hammond and Warner, p.59: "1. Religion is the major foundation of ethnicity, examples include the Amish, Hutterites, Jews, and Mormons. Ethnicity in this pattern, so to speak, equals religion, and if the religious identity is denied, so is the ethnic identity. [Footnote: In actuality, of course, there can be exceptions, as the labels "jack Mormon," "banned Amish," or "cultural Jew" suggest.] Let us call this pattern "ethnic fusion."
    2. Religion may be one of several foundations of ethnicity, the others commonly being language and territorial origin; examples are the Greek or Russian Orthodox and the Dutch Reformed. Ethnicity in this pattern extends beyond religion in the sense that ethnic identification can be claimed without claiming the religious identification, but the reverse is rare. Let us call this pattern "ethnic religion."
    3. An ethnic group may be linked to a religious tradition, but other ethnic groups will be linked to it, too. Examples include Irish, Italian, and Polish Catholics; Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish Lutherans. Religion in this pattern extends beyond ethnicity, reversing the previous pattern, and religious identification can be claimed without claiming the ethnic identification. Let us call this pattern "religious ethnicity""
  8. ^ Andreas Wimmer. "Democracy and ethno-religious conflict in Iraq" (PDF).
  9. ^ a b Simon Harrison (2006). Fracturing Resemblances: Identity and Mimetic Conflict in Melanesia and the West. Berghahn Books. pp. 121-. ISBN 978-1-57181-680-1.
  10. ^ Allison, Christine (20 February 2004). "Yazidis i: General". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2010.
  11. ^ Arakelova, Victoria. "Ethno-Religious Communities Identity markers". Yerevan State University. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ Paul R. Ehrlich; Anne H. Ehrlich (30 June 2008). The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment. Island Press. p. 315. ISBN 978-1-59726-096-1.
  13. ^ a b "Anti-Discrimination (Amendment) Bill: Second Reading". Parliament of New South Wales. 2007-05-12. Retrieved 2010.
  14. ^ a b Gareth Griffith (February 2006). Sedition, Incitement and Vilification: Issues in the Current Debate (PDF). NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service. p. 52. ISBN 0-7313-1792-0. Retrieved 2010.
  15. ^ a b "Are Jews a Religious Group or an Ethnic Group?" (PDF). Institute for Curriculum Services. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  16. ^ a b Ethnic minorities in English law - Google Books. Retrieved on 2010-12-23.
  17. ^ a b Edgar Litt (1961). "Jewish Ethno-Religious Involvement and Political Liberalism". Social Forces. 39 (4): 328-332. doi:10.2307/2573430. JSTOR 2573430.
  18. ^ Ireton 2003
  19. ^ "Part I - Mormons as an Ethno-Religious Group - University Publishing Online". Retrieved .
  20. ^ Janzen, Rod; Stanton, Max (2010-09-01). The Hutterites in North America. JHU Press. ISBN 9780801899256.
  21. ^ a b c Thomas 2006
  22. ^ Thiessen, Janis Lee (2013-06-17). Manufacturing Mennonites: Work and Religion in Post-War Manitoba. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9781442660595.
  23. ^ a b Desplat, Patrick; Østebø, Terje (2013-04-18). Muslim Ethiopia: The Christian Legacy, Identity Politics, and Islamic Reformism. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137322081.
  24. ^ Dekmejian, R. Hrair (1994). "Reviewed Work: Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust by Robert F. Melson". The International History Review. 16 (2): 377. JSTOR 40107201. ...both victimized groups [Armenians & Jews] were ethno-religious minorities...
  25. ^ For Assyrians as a Christian people, see
  26. ^ Zemon, Rubin. "The development of identities among the Muslim population in the Balkans in an era of globalization and Europeanization: Cases of Torbeshi, Gorani and Pomaci".
  27. ^ "Kalash Religion" (PDF).
  28. ^ Ponna Wignaraja; Akmal Hussain, eds. (1989). The Challenge in South Asia: Development, Democracy and Regional Cooperation. United Nations University Press. p. 278. ISBN 9780803996038.
  29. ^ a b c Marty, Martin E. (1997). Religion, Ethnicity, and Self-Identity: Nations in Turmoil. University Press of New England. ISBN 0-87451-815-6. [...] the three ethnoreligious groups that have played the roles of the protagonists in the bloody tragedy that has unfolded in the former Yugoslavia: the Christian Orthodox Serbs, the Roman Catholic Croats, and the Muslim Slavs of Bosnia.
  30. ^ 2016 Report on International Religious Freedom - Somalia
  31. ^ Ladykowski, P., Estonian Cottage. Setu - ethno-religious borderland group., Warsaw University Press
  32. ^ Hunt, Stephen (13 May 2016). Contemporary Christianity and LGBT Sexualities. Chapter 7: Christians and Gays in Northern Ireland. ISBN 9781317160922. Retrieved 2017.CS1 maint: location (link)
  33. ^ Byrne, Sean (2000). Social Conflicts and Collective Identities. p. 94. ISBN 9780742500518. Retrieved 2017.
  34. ^ It's never too late for 'us' to meet 'them': prior intergroup friendships moderate the impact of later intergroup friendships in educational settings. Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford. Retrieved 2017.
  35. ^ Ó Lúing, Seán (1953). Art Ó Griofa. Dublin: Sairséal agus Dill. p. 217.
  36. ^ NI Curriculum, Teachers' Notes, p. 54
  37. ^ Kenton L. Sparks (1998). Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Israel: Prolegomena to the Study of Ethnic Sentiments and Their Expression in the Hebrew Bible. Eisenbrauns. pp. 146-148. ISBN 9781575060330.
  38. ^ "History of the Reform Movement". My Jewish Learning. 70/Faces. Retrieved 2021.
  39. ^ "Conversion and Marriage".
  40. ^ "How does Reform Judaism define who is a Jew?". 6 June 2013.
  41. ^ Kaplan, Dana Evan. "Who Is a Jew: Patrilineal Descent". My Jewish Learning. 70/Faces. Retrieved 2021.
  42. ^ Fischman, Sylvia Barack. "Fathers of the Faith? Three Decades of Patrilineal Descent in American Reform Judaism" (PDF). JPPI. JPPI. Retrieved 2021.
  43. ^ Waxman, Dov (2006). The Pursuit of Peace and the Crisis of Israeli Identity: Defending/Defining the Nation. Springer. p. 115. ISBN 9781403983473.
  44. ^ Shlomo Fischer. "Israelis Are Divided Over Whether They Are 'Jewish' Or 'Israeli.'". Forward. Retrieved 2018.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  45. ^ Shlomo Sharan, David Bukay (2017). Crossovers: Anti-zionism and Anti-semitism. Routledge. pp. 161-163. ISBN 9781351524827.
  46. ^ John H. Redekop: A People Apart: Ethnicity and the Mennonite Brethren, 1987.
  47. ^ Royden Loewen: The Poetics of Peoplehood: Ethnicity and Religion among Canada's Mennonites in Paul Bramadat, David Seljak: Christianity and Ethnicity in Canada, 2008.
  48. ^ "Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 Section 4".
  49. ^ Cunneen, Chris; David Fraser; Stephen Tomsen (1997). Faces of hate: hate crime in Australia. Hawkins Press. p. 223. ISBN 1-876067-05-5. Retrieved .
  50. ^ "ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ACT 1998 - SECT 3". Tasmanian Consolidated Acts. AustLII. 2 February 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  51. ^ "ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ACT 1998 - SECT 16". Tasmanian Consolidated Acts. AustLII. 2 February 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  52. ^ policypaperdraft. Retrieved on 2010-12-23.
  53. ^ Immigrant Sub-National Ethnicity: Bengali-Hindus and Punjabi-Sikhs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Retrieved on 2010-12-23.
  54. ^ a b "Mandla (Sewa Singh) and another v Dowell Lee and others [1983] 2 AC 548" (PDF).
  55. ^ Ethno-Religious Strife Closes Bridge of Hope Center - Gospel for Asia Archived 2009-10-17 at the Wayback Machine. (2008-08-05). Retrieved on 2010-12-23.


External links

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