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Sectarianism often means different things to different people. 

Sectarianism is a word which conjures up many different emotions, opinions and perspectives. The term can take on different meanings depending on how it is used. ​


Dictionary Definition of Sectarian


1.   Of, relating to, or characteristic of a sect.

2.   Adhering or confined to the dogmatic limits of a sect or denomination; partisan

3.   Narrow-minded; parochial.


Nil by Mouth’s campaign focuses mainly on challenging sectarian hatred, abuse and discrimination between Catholics and Protestants. The prejudice which stains Scottish culture fuels an alarming reality that you need not belong to a particular faith to be a victim of sectarianism. The school you attend, the community you belong to, your name, your accent or the colour of your clothing can all mark you out as a target for discrimination and abuse. There are many many examples of where this has been the case.

We define sectarianism as:

“Narrow-minded beliefs that lead to prejudice, discrimination, malice and ill-will towards members, or presumed members, of a religious denomination.”

A denomination – or sect – is a division or grouping within a faith eg Protestants and Catholics within Christianity, Sunni and Shia within Islam, Orthodox and Reform within Judaism. Denominations within one faith share the same fundamental elements of the faith but have different practices or different interpretations of specific elements of that faith.

Sectarianism in Scotland is typically related to Protestant/Catholic divisions but it is helpful to understand that sectarianism also occurs within other faiths and is a feature of religious intolerance.

Although sectarianism is rooted in religion it is often linked to cultural, historical and political differences. It is frequently argued that in recent years this type of intolerance of others has little link with history or association with religion itself.

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