Religious discrimination implies a restriction of people’s rights on the basis of their religious affiliation.
In some countries, where there are several religious communities, religious discrimination is usually accompanied by religious stratification, i.e. the social ladder communities have higher or lower status relative to each other.
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In the ancient world, religious affiliation usually coincided with ethnic. The foreigners did not have to worship local gods, as they were considered only the patrons of the local population. The attitude toward foreign gods was different: in some cases, they were perceived as demons (thus, the Sanskrit word “Deva” is a deity has the same origin as the Persian “Devas”- Devil), in others, as simply “not their own,” but the real gods (such was the attitude of the ancient Greeks to the gods of neighboring peoples, such as Thracians, Phrygians, etc.), which in some cases could be used as their own, in third, they could be identified with the local gods (so, Etruscan and Roman gods, initially having their own origins and cults, were identified with the Greek, and associated mythology adapted to Greek views, for example, Zeus to Jupiter, Hera to Juno, etc.). Religion of slaves was usually a subject of interested for the owner.
In ancient Rome, syncretism was widespread, when the gods of defeated peoples joined Roman pantheon.
The Bible is one of the most ancient religious texts, proclaiming zero tolerance on religious rather than ethnic principles. The ancient Jews destroyed Jericho residents and several other cities on the grounds that the Lord gave them the promised land, and the pagan heterodoxies held her improperly.
With the spread of monotheism, religious discrimination had spread and was legitimized. It was a progressive step that other peoples were to be perceived not as aliens in principle, but as potential targets for the conversion. However, the refusal of the conversion imposed number of restrictions related to taxation, basic rights, etc. Large communities of infidels were either not possible, or they were separated from the rest of the population (ghetto). Conversion to another religion was generally regarded as the gravest crime. On the other hand, the community of the infidels was not under the jurisdiction of the dominant Orthodox Church, the infidel could not be condemned for heresy (but could be convicted of the attempt of conversion to their belief).
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