Five Easy Ways to Tell If Your Post Is Bigoted

Religious intolerance can be sneaky. You may not even realize you’re being a bigot. Probably because someone said some line to you. They were sneaky and now you are the unlucky sucker passing this nastiness along without even realizing it!

A friend recently asked me to go to a well-populated Mommy Facebook group we both belong to and report a certain negative post to Facebook as being hate speech. Hate speech is against Facebook’s Terms of Service. (I know that seems hard to believe with all the crazy that goes on there!) And when I read the original post I thought, “Hey! That’s not so bad. What’s the big deal?” Well, it was asking anonymously, through the group administrator, if a certain school which was run by a Scientologist was okay. It had a fearful tone to it, but didn’t say anything specifically hateful. But some of the responses! Geez. None of them had anything to do with the school, only false hearsay about my religion, mixed in with a number of responses that the school was great.

Man typing on a lap top

I realized the group admin had been duped! And so had I! The post itself was indeed religiously intolerant and she had taken the bait. And here I was, about to reply to every comment on the thread because I yearn to save the world, one false, hateful comment corrected at a time. But if I responded to those falsehoods, Facebook’s algorithms would take over and more people would see all the other B.S. posted on it! I stopped, took a breath and reported it. Boom. Religiously intolerant. That’s it.

Social media is at its best when it makes us laugh, educates us, makes us feel better about our lives and brings us together.

So what can you do to make sure you don’t get sucked in and forward someone else’s intolerance? Well, I’m here to tell you, and I’m here to help! Here are five simple tests you can use to see if you are indeed bringing more intolerance into the world.

1. If you could substitute the word “Jew,” “Jewish” or “Judaism” with the current religion or religious member in your post and people would call you an anti-Semite, then your post is intolerant. In the above example, if the poster had substituted “Scientologist” with “Jew” it would have read something like this: “I like the Green Door School but it is run by Jews. Should I be worried?” Let’s face it: there would have been a public outcry and a figurative lynching of the original poster.

2. Does it make you cringe? Something just doesn’t seem right. If you knew there were people of that faith reading your post and you get a twisting feeling in your stomach, don’t do it! Step away from the iPhone!

3. Run it by a friend of that faith! I recently wrote a blog about finding out I am Jewish and asked my Jewish friend, “Hey, if I say [x, y and z] would I offend people?” She said it would. Delete, delete, delete.

4. Would you say it to the FACE of a Christian, Muslim, Scientologist, Jehovah’s Witness, etc. that you care about? In person? If your post says, “Christians drink stomach bile and worship potato chips!” and your best friend, a Christian, would throw a fit and not call you for two weeks—just don’t say it!

5. Finally, does your post bring about peace and understanding? Or does it divide people? If you can imagine that after you post this little ditty you will lose even one Facebook friend (whether you know them in real life or not) stop the presses!!! Would spreading hate be worth it?

So often, bigotry—religious or otherwise—comes from a lack of knowledge about what one is thinking or talking about. If you don’t know much about that religion, read a book! Explore. Talk to people who love that religion and use it in their everyday lives.

There are so many divisive things in this world. Social media is at its best when it makes us laugh, educates us, makes us feel better about our lives and brings us together. Do we have to agree on everything? No! But let’s agree not to bash each other, or our religions.

And Facebook deleted it. Boom!

Shannon Burwell
Actor known for her work on American Crime Story (2016) and Grey's Anatomy (2005) and mother of two.