Re: Religion and ethnocentrism

Marie K Conrad (mkconrad@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Tue, 9 Apr 1996 11:55:22 -0400

Dr. Kephart,
While I understand the concern about partial ethnocentrism and
religion, I would also offer that the idea that a master race could be
created genetically and that "certain people" should not be allowed
to reproduce because of the fear of perpetuating idiocy ("three generations
of idiots is enough") was supported by scientific theory,
and that it led to the enforced sterilization of many in institutions in our
country (Carrie Buck - The Mismeasure of Man) and to the Holocaust.
This smacks a little of religion as bastion of the ignorant and
prejudicial and science as the bastion of enlightened thought and equality.
I have observed anthropologists who wouldn't bat an eye at some ideas react
with no small intolerance and derision at religious interests
in their colleagues - as if the person had abrogated all sense of logic.
I find it surprising, and disturbing. What do you think?

> I think we should
> also tell them that to persist in the belief that their religion is the ONLY
> true one, and that all others are false, is (partial?) ethnocentrism which might
> ordinarily be harmless, like food preferences, but which has also led to things
> like the Inquisition.
> Ronald Kephart
> Dept of Language & Literature
> University of North Florida
> Jacksonville, FL USA 32224-2645
> Phone: (904) 646-2580