Religion and ethnocentrism

Cliff Sloane (cesloane@MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU)
Wed, 10 Apr 1996 19:36:55 -0500

How could anyone doubt that a belief that one's own religion is true can
be anything other than ethnocentrism? This is not to say that this is
necessarily bad, nor that one needs to have no religion in order to do
anthropology. But if one believes one's own religion to be true, the
ethnographer would need to actively set aside this belief in order to
document religious practices that he/she does not believe in.

It seems so essentially Christian to leap to the next proposition--that
belief in the truth of one religion must lead to the belief in the
falsity of another. This is where the ethnocentrism of ANY faith veers
into doctrines of domination.

The comparison to food preferences is good, but I would suggest that
religion is better compared to food avoidances, in that one is seen as
individual choice, while another is based on more widely held social

Cliff Sloane