Found in 2 comments on Hacker News
fusiongyro · 2017-04-12 · Original thread
Another data point, possibly unrelated: conversion to Judaism. I don't have a source for this, but I have heard (and it has been my personal experience as well) that religious observance is correlated to acceptance of converts. In other words, more religious Jews tend to be more tolerant of converts than less religious Jews. I think this is because you really can't "convert" to cultural Judaism, and the cultural Jews I have known have found the idea of it kind of repellant, similarly to this article about Rachel Dolezal I just read[1]. But in the case of Judaism, if you're culturally Jewish and don't see any value in the religion, all you have is your experience of day-to-day life as a Jew. You can't convert to being picked on for being Jewish. Or black, or Hindu. But I think that attitude is more about building walls than empathy. If someone comes to you saying they're a huge fan of your whole situation, kicking sand in their face and shouting "YOU DON'T KNOW ME!" doesn't make the world a better place.

The situation in Iran is complicated. Zoroastrianism is a protected group there, but it's extremely dangerous to be seen as welcoming converts in the Islamic republic. Simultaneously, to convert away is basically to accede a small amount of political power. I've heard (especially in Religion in Iran[2]) that there may be a Zoroastrian movement taking shape; as converts, those folks would certainly be welcoming of converts, but it's likely to make the established group anxious because if it gains too much attention it will lead to persecution of all Zoroastrians in Iran. So you have two overlapping marginal groups each trying to exaggerate the figures in opposite directions—which is sort of thematic for the kind of contradictions you see in Iran generally.



fusiongyro · 2016-11-15 · Original thread
I'm reading _Religions of Iran_[1] right now and getting a lot out of it. I think the reason Iran doesn't get talked about is simply because it's too complex and it doesn't boil down nicely. In addition to Zoroastrianism (the surviving type seems to be an entirely different branch from the one that was at one point a state religion), there have been huge numbers of Jews, Christians and Buddhists(!), to say nothing about religions that appeared and disappeared (Mithraism, Manichaeism) and tiny religions that were once larger (Mandaenism) or little ethnic religions that still exist in small pockets (Yezidism, etc.) Sometimes, the rulers were religiously tolerant; other times they were not. Even when they were not, they document their difficulties homogenizing the population; Iranians are apparently private enough about these things that they can exist as undercurrents for hundreds of years or longer. This, on top of the fact that there have been several Iranian empires over the millenia.

The author of the book is surprised it hasn't been studied in more depth, and I agree with him. It's a very interesting place.


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