Examples of misrepresentation of religion and/or of religions

Here are a few examples of the type of input we are after...

Source: BBC World Program broadcast in New Delhi; Dec. 28, 1995, around 12:30 p.m.

Instance: During a segment on Buddhism in Thailand, Buddhist monks were shown blessing money held out by the disciples in the hope that it would thereby increase. The broadcaster referred to this practice as a Buddhist "superstition".

Reason: The use of this word betrays an anti-Buddhist bias. The practice should have been described by the more neutral word "belief".

Source: The New York Times , December 9, 1973, Sec. 10, p. 1

Instance: The article declared that "according to orthodox Islam, women do not have souls".

Reason: This statement is erroneous and directly contradicts the Qur'an (see 4:124). For more discussion, see Jane J. Smith and Yvonne Y. Haddad, "Women in afterlife: The Islamic view as seen from the Qur'an and tradition", Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 43:1 (March 1975), pp. 39-50.

Source: Globe and Mail , August 27, 1996, p. A7

Instance: Shiva is described as the Hindu god of destruction.

Reason: Shiva should properly be described as the Hindu god of cessation. The description of Shiva as the god of destruction involves both a bias and an error. The bias consists of an excessively negative portrayal of the god who also destroys illness, death, ect. The error consists of the fact that there is no final destruction in Hinduism. The universe undergoes periodic manifestation. Shiva is only the curtain-caller for the show.

Source: Gazette (Montreal), August 25, 1996, p. A7, report entitled: "Muslims Help Stranded Hindus"


The report goes on to say, in the last paragraph: "In a rare spirit of religious tolerance, Muslim residents...offered food and shelter to...Hindu pilgrims."

Reason: In associating a "rare spirit of religious tolerance" with Islam, the report betrays an anti-Islamic bias.

Source: New York Times , August 27, 1996, p. A3, report entitled: "Rescued from Himalyas"

Instance: The stalactite of ice, the report states, which is the object of veneration, "the Hindus believe to be a manifestation of the phallus of Shiva."

Reason: The Hindus call the object linga , which means a distinguishing mark. It is so called because it is a distinguishing mark of Shiva. Lina means phallus in certain contexts because the phallus is the distinguishing mark of the male. To call shiva-linga the phallus of Shiva is tantamount to describing Jesus as born out of wedlock.

Source: Globe and Mail , August 21, 1995, "Indian Rail Crash Kills 300"

Instance: The article contains the sentence: "Cows are sacred to Hindus, who make up most of India's 900 million people."

Reason: There is no reason to refer to the sanctity of the cow in Hinduism, since according to the articles "apparently the train had stopped because it hit an animal". Irrespective of the animal being a cow or a buffalo-- or even a zebra-- the train would have stopped.

Source: Globe and Mail , June 21, 1995, article headlined "Muslim Forces threaten Canadians"-- as identified by Wilfred Cantwell Smith in Globe and Mail, July 5, 1995, p. A21.

Instance: In its coverage of the developments in former Yugoslavia, the June 21 article , "Muslim Forces threaten Canadians", refers to other parties in terms of nationalities-- as Serbs and Croats-- while referring to the Bosnians as Muslims.

Reason: Apart from the assymetry, the prevailing prejudicial association of Islam with terrorism is reinforced-- especially in view of the nature of the headline.