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Over history various methods have been used to justify discrimination Although religion and race were both successful in instituting social hierarchies the implications of their characterizations were quite different Though similar in their origins the transition from religion to race as the basis for discrimination depicts a transition from a focus on changeable characteristics to impermeable differences to support the institution of segregated communities While religious stratification was often mutable hierarchies based on race were of a more permanent nature as illustrated by the use of both methods of discrimination on Jewish and African nations Both religious and racial hierarchies were instituted to maintain social stratification because of the dominant intellectual beliefs of the time This is extremely evident in the way Jews and Blacks continued to be oppressed with only the thought behind their oppression being changed Doctrine or ideology was used to justify or rationalize a range of policies depending on the circumstances and aims of the racializing group Fredrickson 11 Consequently the strength of the Church and the birth of the Enlightenment marked the use of religion and race respectively to institute social hierarchies in breast of economic and political change The use of religion to discriminate against Blacks was mainly due to the strength of the Church Christian doctrine reigned supreme during the period of imperialism and as a result was used to support social stratification Religion was used to defend the occurrence of the slave trade because it was economically profitable for the western world Since slavery was illegal in most societies religion was used to justify its prevalence amongst Christian countries Law in the seventeenth century regarded slavery as licit and as a proper condition for those who could be defined as captives of war particularly if they happened to be heathens Fredrickson 185 As a result Europeans used religion to characterize Africans as savages because of their failure to adhere to European standards of civilization Africans
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