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An ethnoreligious group (or ethno-religious group) is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common ethnic religion background. Ethnoreligious communities define their ethnic identity neither exclusively by ancestral heritage nor simply by religious affiliation, but often through a combination of both[citation needed] (a long shared history; a cultural tradition of its own; either a common geographical origin, or descent from a small number of common ancestors; a common language, not necessarily peculiar to the group; a common literature peculiar to the group; a common religion different from that of neighbouring groups; being a minority or being an oppressed or a dominant group within a larger community).[citation needed]

Examples of ethnic groups defined by ancestral religions are the Jews, the Druze of the Levant, the Copts of Egypt, the Yazidi of northern Iraq, and the Zoroastrians of Iran and India. The Sikhs in India, with the state of Haryana created in 1966 so Sikhs could be a majority in their own state of Punjab.

In an ethnoreligious group, particular 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.[citation needed] This adherence to religious endogamy can also, in some instances, be tied to ethnic nationalism if the ethnoreligious group possesses a historical base in a specific region.[citation needed]

Ethnoreligious group as a legal conceptEdit


In Australian law, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) defines "race" to include "ethnic, ethno-religious or national origin".[1] The reference to "ethno-religious" was added by the Anti-Discrimination (Amendment) Act 1994 (NSW).[2] John Hannaford, the NSW Attorney-General at the time, explained that "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."[3][4]

The definition of "race" in Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas) likewise includes "ethnic, ethno-religious or national origin".[5] However, unlike the NSW Act, it also prohibits discrimination on the grounds of "religious belief or affiliation" or "religious activity".[6]

Development of Definition from United Kingdom LawEdit

Main article: Mandla v Dowell-Lee

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 definition of ethnoreligious[7] group. Both Jews[8][9] and Sikhs[10][11][12] were determined to be 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 this case was that groups like Sikhs and Jews could be protected under the Race Relations Act 1976. This has led to some subsequent controversial court decisions.[13]

Examples of ethnoreligious groupsEdit

The term "ethnoreligious" has been applied by at least one author to each of the following groups: Template:Colbegin


See alsoEdit


  1. Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 Section 4.
  2. Cunneen, Chris; David Fraser, Stephen Tomsen (1997). Faces of hate: hate crime in Australia, Hawkins Press. URL accessed 2010-02-14.
  3. Anti-Discrimination (Amendment) Bill: Second Reading. Parliament of New South Wales. URL accessed on 14 February 2010.
  4. Gareth Griffith (February 2006). Sedition, Incitement and Vilification: Issues in the Current Debate, NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service. URL accessed 14 February 2010.
  5. ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ACT 1998 – SECT 3. Tasmanian Consolidated Acts. AustLII. URL accessed on 14 February 2010.
  6. ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ACT 1998 – SECT 16. Tasmanian Consolidated Acts. AustLII. URL accessed on 14 February 2010.
  7. policypaperdraft. Retrieved on 2010-12-23.
  8. Ethnic minorities in English law – Google Books. Retrieved on 2010-12-23.
  9. Edgar Litt (1961). Jewish Ethno-Religious Involvement and Political Liberalism. Social Forces 39 (4).
  10. Immigrant Sub-National Ethnicity: Bengali-Hindus and Punjabi-Sikhs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Retrieved on 2010-12-23.
  12. Ethno-Religious Strife Closes Bridge of Hope Center – Gospel for Asia. (2008-08-05). Retrieved on 2010-12-23.
  13. The Magazine | Standpoint. Retrieved on 2010-12-23.
  14. Minahan 2002, p. 52
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Thomas 2006
  16. 16.0 16.1 Harrison, p. 121
  17. Minahan 2002, p. 209
  18. Changing Contexts and Redefinitions of Identity among Bosniaks in Slovenia. Retrieved on 2010-12-23.
  19. Anti-Turkish obsession and the exodus of Balkan Muslims – Patterns of Prejudice. (2009-07-04). Retrieved on 2010-12-23.
  20. Minahan 2002, p. 467
  21. 21.0 21.1 Marty, Martin E. (1997). Religion, Ethnicity, and Self-Identity: Nations in Turmoil, University Press of New England. "[...] 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."
  22. Minahan 2002, p. 744
  23. Minahan 2002, p. 914
  24. (1997). The Diaspora Malay. Bethany World Prayer Center. URL accessed on 2008-07-28.
  25. Anthony Hearle Johns, Nelly Lahoud (2005). Islam in world politics, New York: Routledge.
  26. Barbara Watson Andaya, Leonard Y. Andaya (1984). A History of Malaysia, Lonndon: Palgrave Macmillan.
  27. Timothy P. Barnar (2004). Contesting Malayness: Malay identity across boundaries, Singapore: Singapore University press.
  28. Frith, T. (September 1, 2000). Ethno-Religious Identity and Urban Malays in Malaysia. Asian Ethnicity 1 (2): 117–129.
  29. Minahan 2002, p. 1194
  30. Arrington, Leonard J. (1994). History of Idaho, University of Idaho Press.. See also May, Dean (1980). Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, Harvard University Press. (describing Mormons as an ethnic group); Epperson, Steven (1999). A notion of peoples: a sourcebook on America's multicultural heritage, 411–27, Greenwood Publishing Group. (arguing that Mormonism has become an ethnicity in addition to a religion).
  31. Ehrlich, p. 315
  32. Ireton 2003
  33. Minahan 2002, p. 2030


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