List of religious slurs

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The following is a list of religious slurs or religious insults in the English language that are, or have been, used as insinuations or allegations about adherents or non-believers of a given religion or irreligion, or to refer to them in a derogatory (critical or disrespectful), pejorative (disapproving or contemptuous), or insulting manner.

Christians[edit]

Non-denominational[edit]

Term Location of Origin Targeted Demographic Meaning Origin and Notes References
Bible beater also known as Bible basher North America Christian's Pentecostal denomination A dysphemism for people who believe in the fundamentalist authority of the Bible, particularly those from a Pentecostal or fundamentalist denomination.[1] It is also a slang term for an evangelising Christian. Commonly used universally against Christians who are perceived to go out of their way to energetically preach their faith to others. [1][2][3]
Bible thumper United States Christian people Someone perceived as aggressively imposing their Christian beliefs upon others. The term derives from preachers thumping their hands down on the Bible, or thumping the Bible itself, to emphasize a point during a sermon. The term's target domain is broad and can often extend to anyone engaged in a public show of religion, fundamentalist or not. The term is most commonly used in English-speaking countries. [4]
Cafeteria Christian United States Selection of Christian doctrines Used by some Christians, and others, to accuse other Christian individuals or denominations of selecting which Christian doctrines they will follow, and which they will not. [5]
Chuhra Punjab, Pakistan Lower-class Christians and menial workers; later used against Christians in general. Also used against Pakistani Hindu people. Derived from the name of the Chuhra caste, historically a Dalit caste whose traditional occupation was sweeping and cleaning. Most Christians in Punjab are from this community, and still they are the majority of street sweepers in Punjab province. The term became an abuse for all Christians. [6][7]
Fundie United States Christian fundamentalist Shortening of fundamentalist. Usually used to mean a Christian fundamentalist. [8]
Isai, Saai Pakistan Christian people From Isa, the name of Jesus Christ from the Qur'an as a prophet of Islam. The term literally means "[person/people] of Jesus", but it later meant "street sweeper" or "labourer". [9]
Rice Christian, Rice bag United Kingdom, India Material benefiting Christians

In India: Christians (especially those from the Northeast)

Someone who has formally declared themself a Christian for material benefits rather than for religious reasons. In India, the term has been extended to refer to any Christian convert. [10][11]

Protestants[edit]

Term Location of Origin Targeted Demographic Meaning Origin and Notes References
Campbellite United States Followers of Church of Christ Followers of the Church of Christ, from American Restoration Movement leaders Thomas Campbell and Alexander Campbell, the latter being one of two key people considered the founders of the movement. [12]
Holy Roller United States Christian people Named after Church services involving rolling on the floor in an uncontrolled manner.[13]
Hun United Kingdom, Ireland Christian Protestants, especially Glasgow Rangers supporters Used by Irish republicans against Protestant unionists, especially by Glasgow Celtic supporters against those of Glasgow Rangers
Jaffa United Kingdom Christian Protestants Named after a common orange-flavoured cake/biscuit in the ROI and UK. [14]
Prod, Proddy United Kingdom, Ireland Christian Protestants Particularly used by bullies to disparage a child who attends a Protestant school. "Proddywhoddy" and "proddywoddy" are used in children's school rhymes in Cork. [15]
Orangie Ireland Ulster Protestants Referring to the Orange Order
Russellite United States Jehovah's Witnesses Jehovah's Witness from American religious leader Charles Taze Russell. [16][17]
Shaker United States Christian people Member of the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing. Originated as "Shaking Quakers", in reference to their similarity to Quakers as well as their charismatic worship practices, which involved dancing, shouting, and speaking in tongues. The term was originally derogatory, but very early on was embraced and used by the Shakers themselves. [18][19][20]
Soup-taker Ireland Christian who sold their belief Person who has sold out their beliefs, referring to the Great Famine of Ireland when some Catholics converted to a Protestant faith in order to gain access to a free meal. [21]

Catholics[edit]

Term Location of Origin Targeted Demographic Meaning Origin and Notes References
Left-footer United Kingdom Roman Catholics An informal phrase for a Roman Catholic particularly amongst the armed forces in the UK. [22][23]
Fenian United Kingdom Irish Catholics A term which was originally used to refer to the Fenian Brotherhood and the Irish Republican Brotherhood, organizations which supported a united Ireland. Today the term is used as a sectarian slur by Protestants, especially in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Australia. [24]
Mackerel Snapper North America Roman Catholics The term originated in the U.S. in the 1850s and refers to the custom of Friday abstinence. The Friday abstinence from meat (red meat and poultry) distinguishes Catholics from other Christians, especially in North America. [25][26]
Mick United Kingdom Irish Catholic Usually an Irish Catholic (a reference to the common "Mc'" patronymic of Irish surnames, or a hypocorism of Michael). [27]
Papist Northern Ireland Roman Catholic Usually Irish Catholic.[28] [28]
Red letter tribe North America Roman Catholics A name given to Catholics for their keeping so many holy days marked in their almanacks with red letters. [29]
Redneck Ireland Roman Catholics Roman Catholic person, now considered archaic due to its association with the better known American term. [30]
Roman Catholic England Roman Catholics Term brought into use by adherents of the Church of England in regard to Branch Theory as well as distaste to the Catholic Church’s association with the term Catholic. [31]
Romanist England Roman Catholics Term as used when anti-Catholicism was more common in the united states as well as in Northern Ireland by Ulster Protestants [32][33]
Shaveling Unknown Roman Catholics Usually disparaging: a tonsured clergyman, priest. [34]
Taig Northern Ireland Irish Catholics From tadhg, Irish for "Timothy". [35]

Latter Day Saint movement[edit]

Term Location of Origin Targeted Demographic Meaning Origin and Notes References
Mormon United States Latter Day Saint Term for a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) which was coined by early opposition and put into use by newspapers in Missouri and Illinois who didn't want to refer to the Latter-day Saints as Christians or Saints, and so used a word from one of their books of scripture, the Book of Mormon. Early leaders spoke out against this use of the term due to revelation given about the church's name,[36] but because of broad use in the press and by locals who opposed the church, it remained in colloquial use. To this day, many refer to the LDS Church as the "Mormon Church," though leaders have been asking to be referred to by their proper name since 1838. However, the term "Mormon" has been used in the church's television advertising to refer to its members. There has been a renewed effort starting in 2018 to avoid the use of the term. There is some disagreement within the LDS Church if the term is offensive, or just less preferred. Some style guides consider "Mormon" to be the appropriate term in many historical (Mormon pioneers, Mormon Battalion, Mormon Trail) and demographic contexts, as Mormons are not exclusively members of the LDS Church. There are other denominations in which the term is not offensive and may be preferred. (List of denominations in the Latter Day Saint movement) [37][36][38][39][40][41]
Molly Mormon United States Latter Day Saint Term for the stereotype of a "perfect" female member of LDS Church. [42]
Peter Priesthood United States Latter Day Saint Term for the stereotype of a "perfect" male member of LDS Church.[citation needed]
Jack Mormon United States Latter Day Saint A non-faithful LDS person or a non-Mormon altogether. Jack Mormon is usually used by non-Mormons to describe Mormons that do not follow the Word of Wisdom (dietary and health practices that exclude the use of tobacco or alcohol) and by Mormons to describe members that do not sufficiently follow practices. It is also used by Mormons to describe those who were Mormon but remain friendly to the church. It may be applied to ex-Mormons who have repudiated the church and its teachings but that is a rare usage. [43]

Jews[edit]

Term Location of Origin Targeted Demographic Meaning, origin and notes References
Abbie, Abie North America Jewish male A Jewish male. From the proper name Abraham. Originated before the 1950s.[44] [44]
Christ-killer Jews In reference to Jewish deicide. [45]
Feuj (verlan for juif) France Jews A corruption of the French word for Jewish "juif". Originating from the French argot Verlan. [46]
Heeb, Hebe United States Jews Derived from the word "Hebrew". [47][48]
Hymie United States Jews Derived from the Hebrew Chaim ("life"). Also used in the term Hymietown, a nickname for Brooklyn, New York, and as a first name. [49]
Ikey, Ike United States Jews Derived from Isaac an important figure in Judaism and common Hebrew given name. [50]
Itzig Nazi Germany Jews From Yiddish איציק (itsik), a variant or pet form of the name Isaak (alternatively Isaac). The Nazis before World War 2 (but after they took power in 1933–1934) started persecution and imprisonment of Jews before escalating to genocide, resulting in the Holocaust. [51]
Jewboy United States Young Jewish boy For a young Jewish male, originally young Jewish boys who sold counterfeit coins in 18th century London. [52][53]
Jidan Romania Jews From jid, Romanian equivalent of yid. [54]
Kike United States Jews From the Yiddish word for "circle" is kikel, illiterate Jews who entered the United States at Ellis Island signed their names with a circle instead of a cross because they associated the cross with Christianity. [55][56]
Mocky United States Jews First used in the 1930s, possibly from the Yiddish word makeh meaning "plague". [57][58]
Red Sea pedestrian Australia Jews A Jew, from the story of Moses leading the Jewish people out of Egypt in the Book of Exodus [59]
Rootless cosmopolitan
(Russian: безродный космополит)
Russia Jews Soviet epithet as an accusation of lack of full allegiance to the Soviet Union [60]
Sheeny Europe Jews From Yiddish sheyn or German schön meaning 'beautiful'. [61]
Shylock England Jews Jewish people as shrewd and money-loving; derived from the character in Shakespeare's play "Merchant of Venice". [62]
Yakubian North America Jews Jewish people; it is often mistaken as describing white people, as the Nation of Islam believes all white people are descended from Yakub, the biblical Jacob. Therefore, white people and Jewish people are considered one and the same. [63]
Yid Europe Jews Yiddish word for Jew. [64]
Zhyd Russia Jews From Russian and other Slavic languages, originally neutral, but became pejorative during debate over the Jewish question in the 1800s. Its use was banned by the Soviet authorities in the 1930s. [65]

Muslims[edit]

Term Location of Origin Targeted Demographic Meaning Origin and Notes References
Abdul India Muslims Derives from the common Muslim name Abdul. [66]
Jihadi India Muslims, especially fundamentalists Derives from jihad. [67]
Kadrun [id] Indonesia Islamic fundamentalists Portmanteau of kadal gurun meaning "desert lizard". Originated as a social media political insult, the term is used for close-minded Muslims influenced by Islamic extremism and fundamentalism from the Middle East. [68][69]
Katwa, Katua India Muslim men Derives from the Hindi/Urdu for 'cut' referring to circumcision, which is a common practice among Muslim men [67]
Muzzie Australia Islamic people A shortened version of the word 'Muslim'. [70]
Mullah India Muslims Derives from mullah, a common title for Islamic religious scholars. [66]
Miya Assam, India Bengali Muslims, especially those seen as from Bangladesh Derives from the honorific Mian. [71]
Namazi India religious Muslims Derives from Namaz, the Persian word for salah: obligatory Islamic daily prayers [67]
Peaceful, pissful India Muslims Derives from the common statement that Islam is a "religion of peace". [66]
Osama North America Islamic men From Osama bin Laden. [72]
Qadiani Pakistan Ahmadiyya The term originates from Qadian, a small town in northern India, the birthplace of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement. The use of Qadiani is primarily in Pakistan. The term has even been used in official Pakistani documents. It is also known as the Q-word. [73][74][75]
Rafida/Rawafid Arab peninsula Shīʿi Muslims (regardless of race) used by Sunni Muslims to refer to Shīʿi Muslims who reject (rafḍ) the caliphates of Abu Bakr and ʿUmar. [76]
Raghead North America Islamic turban wearers From Islamic wearing of turbans. [72][77]
Terrorist United States Muslims used by radical anti-Islamists, due to anti-Muslim sentiments following September 11 attacks and subsequently ISIS attacks. [78]

Hindus[edit]

Term Location of Origin Targeted Demographic Meaning Origin and Notes References
Cow piss drinker, piss drinker Western countries Local Hindu people Referring to the practice of drinking gomutra, or cow urine, as a folk medicine advocated by some Hindu groups. [79]
Dothead Western countries Local Hindu people, especially women Referring to the practice of applying bindis, a dot-like marking used by married women. Also the namesake of a terrorist group from New Jersey that murdered Indians known as the Dotbusters. [80]
Malaun Bangladesh Hindus, especially those from Bangladesh "Malaun" is derived from Bengali মালাউন (maalaaun), which in turn was derived from Arabic "ملعون" (mal'un), which means "cursed" or deprived from God's mercy. [81][82][83]

Sikhs[edit]

Term Location of Origin Targeted Demographic Meaning Origin and Notes References
Raghead North America Sikh turban wearers In reference to Sikh headgear (usually turbans), often used in the belief that Sikhs are connected to terrorism. Also used against anyone wearing turbans or keffiyehs. [84][77]

Scientologists[edit]

Term Location of

Origin

Targeted

Demographic

Meaning Origin and Notes References
Clam United States Scientologists Referring to a passage about clam engrams in L. Ron Hubbard's 1952 book, What To Audit, later renamed Scientology: A History of Man. [85]

General non-believers[edit]

Giaour
Word for a person who isn't Muslim, but especially for a Christian. Adapted from the Turkish gâvur. In the Ottoman Empire, it was usually applied to Orthodox Christians.[86][87]
Heathen
A person who does not belong to a widely held religion (especially one who is not a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim) as regarded by those who do.[88]
Infidel
A term used generally for non-believers.[89]
Kaffir
A person who is a non believer.[90] Widely used in Muslim majority countries.[citation needed]
Pagan
A person who holds religious beliefs that differ from main world religions. Synonymous with heathen.[91]
Shiksa (female), Shegetz (male)
(Yiddish) A non-Jewish girl or boy or one who is of Jewish descent, but does not practice Orthodox Judaism.[92][93] Also used to refer to non-Jews.

Religious practitioners in general[edit]

Cult, Cultist
Used as an ad hominem attack against groups with differing doctrines or practices.[94][95][96]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

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    - "Archbishop calls on Costa Ricans to abandon "cafeteria Christianity" and defend life". San Jose: Catholic News Agency. 29 March 2005. Archbishop Hugo Barrantes Urena of San Jose, Costa Rica, told Costa Ricans in his Easter message to embrace the faith without conditions or short-cuts and to defend the life of the unborn against efforts to legalize abortion. The archbishop warned that “based on a relativistic understanding of the Christian faith and a conditional adherence to the Church, some Catholics seek to construct a Christianity and, consequently, a Church to their own liking, unilateral and outside the identity and mission that Jesus Christ has fundamentally given us.”[permanent dead link]
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  89. ^ "Infidel". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). HarperCollins.
  90. ^ Sevinç, Kenan; Coleman, Thomas J.; Hood, Ralph W. (25 July 2018). "Non-Belief: An Islamic Perspective". Secularism and Nonreligion. 7: 5. doi:10.5334/snr.111.
  91. ^ Peter Brown (1999). "Pagan". In Glen Warren Bowersock; Peter Brown; Oleg Grabar (eds.). Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World. Harvard University Press. pp. 625–626. ISBN 978-0-674-51173-6.
  92. ^ "shegetz". Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
  93. ^ "shiksa". Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
  94. ^ Compare: T.L. Brink (2008) Psychology: A Student Friendly Approach. "Unit 13: Social Psychology". pp 320 [2] Archived 26 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine - "Cult is a somewhat derogatory term for a new religious movement, especially one with unusual theological doctrine or one that is abusive of its membership."
  95. ^ Chuck Shaw – Sects and Cults Archived 25 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine – Greenville Technical College. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  96. ^ Bromley, David Melton, J. Gordon 2002. Cults, Religion, and Violence. West Nyack, New York: Cambridge University Press.

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