If one holds an event and says no Catholics allowed, that would surely be unlawful religious discrimination. But what if one said "no Tories allowed"? Or "no fascists allowed"? Would that be legally okay?

If one said that "Muslims are everything that's wrong in this world" then that is religious hatred. But what if one says that fascists represent everything wrong with the world?

With religious hatred one can insult or decry beliefs but not groups defined by their adherence to the beliefs. Presumably this hate the sun not the sinner principle is not extended to political beliefs because politics is understood to have an intrinsic impact on the society that we all live in while there seems to perhaps be a presumption that what and how one worships is a characteristically personal, private thing that "does not hurt anyone else," that ostensibly does not shape the broader social fabric of society as political orientations have as their purpose to do.

But is that really true? Many religious sects and organizations have beliefs to influence the world in a certain way, whether through charity work, outreach, proselytism or, more to the point, political organising and influence.

Someone who highly values the right to abortion for example, may intensely hate "Christians" as they tend to inherently be avowed opponents of that cause. Or one who finds it especially viscerally unsettling to see boys be circumcised might hate circumcision-observing Jews as much as other types of perceived child abusers for perpetuating the practice thereby shaping a world that that individual would not want to live in. Worse still if Jewish organizations make it their business to achieve political/legal protections for people's rights to circumcise their boys.

Someone else might hate jahovas witnesses or Mormons for preaching to and harassing them on the street.

Of course one may legally hate Mormonism for mandating it's adherents to do that, but is it not more natural to "hate" those individuals who see fit to follow a system of belief that urges them to engage in such conduct?

So we have a matrix of two distinctions basically, that between "hating"/decrying the perceived "sin" and "sinner," and so in cases of political and religious "sins".

Of course one can express antipathy and contempt for abstract sets of beliefs but they have no impact until they are collectively given force to by their adherents just as laws are merely inanimate words on paper with no force until a judge with a gavel prompts a policeman with shackles to give them effect.

Similarly they don't even exist as words on a page until some political force(s) organise to muster the will for them to be passed. So either before their passage or after their application it is rather pointless to hate laws themselves. But their proponents, it makes much more sense to.

How are these distinctions addressed by the law?

  • 2
    You should remove the united-states tag since the First Amendment substantially complicates the question. Or, remove england-and-wales: point is, there is no right answer that covers both jurisdictions. When there is no right answer, the question is too broad.
    – user6726
    Jun 30, 2022 at 23:42
  • 3
    @user6726 There is no need to cover both/all specified jurisdictions in one answer: each answer can be tagged by/limited to just one jurisdiction.
    – Greendrake
    Jun 30, 2022 at 23:49
  • In the US you can certainly hold a private event that excludes Catholics. For example services at a Mormon temple may only be attended by Mormons in good standing. I assume it’s the same in the UK. Jul 1, 2022 at 4:15
  • Yes @Greendrake, exactly. Jul 1, 2022 at 9:26

3 Answers 3


Hate whoever you want

The law doesn’t care who you hate, who you love and who you don’t give a rat’s behind about, nor does it care about your reasons for doing so.

Similarly, the law in most advanced countries doesn’t care if you express your hatred in words. Write as many social media posts as you like decrying the imagined depredations of your hated groups. Record music and videos expressing that hate. Stand on a soapbox in an area set aside for such purposes and shout your hate to the world. Just remember, no one is obliged to supply you with the soapbox (actual or metaphorical).

As an aside, there are some countries, which because of their history, have particular laws about what can and can’t be said about Nazis and Fascists (note the capital F).

What the law does care about

  • Violence - you can’t hurt people just because you hate them
  • Harassment and abuse - you can express your hate but you can’t get in someone’s face to do it
  • ”Hate speech” - which is not speech where you express hatred. It’s speech that incites or promotes violence against the hated group. Jurisdictions differ about where this line is. The United States requires the violence to be “imminent” meaning the speech has to be targeted to affect the audience to commit violence straight away. Other countries will crack down before that.
  • Anti-discrimination law - which only protects certain groups in certain situations. For example, it is perfectly legal to exclude non-Catholics from taking Holy Communion. Similarly, the Labour Party convention is a ticketed event and they are perfectly free not to issue invitations to Tories.
  • What is the significance of the capital F? Jul 1, 2022 at 9:27
  • There is a tension if not an outright conflict between your enthusiasm in encouraging one to stand on a soapbox but later warning against "getting in someone's face" to do it. (Neither of which concepts I suppose are meant strictly literally). Is it legal then to stand right outside the entrance of the national Scientology HQ and profess at the top of one's lungs that one hates Scientologists? Jul 1, 2022 at 9:30
  • There are laws about harassment and public nuisance, and possibly other local ordinances that would be contravened by a campaign of soap-box shouting. These aren't specific to beliefs or religion.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 1, 2022 at 9:54
  • Many continental Europe countries make Nazism hate speech by default and extra illegal.
    – Trish
    Jul 1, 2022 at 10:03
  • 1
    @JosephP. fascism is the ideology developed and implemented by the Fascist party of Italy on whom the Nazis consciously modelled themselves. Except they did is better, I mean worse, I mean more effectively for their really bad purposes.
    – Dale M
    Jul 1, 2022 at 11:23

In the US, the statement that:

If one holds an event and says no Catholics allowed, that would surely be unlawful religious discrimination.

is much too broad to be correct. It depends on what sort of event and who is holding it. A religious organization can limit its worship services and many of its other events to only adherents of their own religion, or limit it to those with belifs that they think "compatible".

Anti-discrimination laws in the US apply specifically to "places of public accommodation". Many priestly-ownmed places are not "places of public accommodation" (PoPA). Anti-discrimination laws also apply in the employment context. One may not discriminate against a person because of a protected category in hiring, firing, or conditions of employment. But religious organizations such as churches have a specific. limited exemption from the US Anti-discrimination laws.

At events and locations that are not PoPAs, one may lawfully discriminate on religious grounds if one so chooses. Many people would consider this unethical, and many religions teach that doing so is wrong, but there is no bar to doing so in US Federal law, nor in the law of most US states.

42 U.S.C. §2000a (a) provides that:

All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin. [Emphasis added]

Note that "political views" is not listed, nor is philosophical belief, nor anything similar. Some sytate laws include additional protected groups.

42 U.S.C. §2000a(b) defines "place of public accommodation", providinf that:

Each of the following establishments is a place of public accommodation within this title if its operations affect commerce, or if discrimination or segregation by it is supported by State action:
(1) any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests, other than an establishment located within a building which contains not more than five rooms for rent or hire and which is actually occupied by the proprietor of such establishment as his residence;
(2) any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including, but not limited to, any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment; or any gasoline station;
(3) any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment; and
(4) any establishment (A)(i) which is physically located within the premises of any establishment otherwise covered by this subsection, or (ii) within the premises of which is physically located any such covered establishment and (B) which holds itself out as serving patrons of any such covered establishment.

The question goes on to say:

But what if one said "no Tories allowed"? Or "no fascists allowed"? Would that be legally okay?

In the US, political party membership is not a protected class, nor is political or philosophical belief, nor any similar characteristic.

Under the federal anti-discrimination laws (and I understand under most if not all statue anti-discrimination laws) one may lawfully exclude "fascists", or "greens", or "Republicans", or "Democrats" as one pleases, however one defines them, from an event, or indeed a shop pr a hotel.

If one said that "Muslims are everything that's wrong in this world" then that is religious hatred. But what if one says that fascists represent everything wrong with the world?

Expressing religious or political hatred is a protected right in the US, although many disapprove of doing so. It is in no way criminal nor unlawful.


Paradoxically, US constitutional law (First Amendment) is at odds with statutory law (42 USC 2000a, the public accommodations discrimination where you cannot discriminate in public accommodations on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin, because the government is not allowed to define what constitutes a "religion". This page gives an overview of attempts to distinguish religions from other kinds of viewpoints. Belief in the existence of one of more gods is not a requirement for being a "religion". Conscientious objector exceptions to the draft figured prominently in expanding the scope of "legal religion". Un US v. Seeger, SCOTUS asked

[w]hether a given belief that is sincere and meaningful occupies a place in the life of its possessor parallel to that filled by the orthodox belief in God of one who clearly qualifies for the exemption.

Welsh v. US, w.r.t. to the same law (military service) characterised "not a religion" as

those beliefs are not deeply held and those whose objection to war does not rest at all upon moral, ethical, or religious principle but instead rests solely upon consideration of policy, pragmatism, or expediency.

In Wisconsin v. Yoder, SCOTUS may have back-pedaled, declaring that

Although a determination of what is a "religious" belief or practice entitled to constitutional protection may present a most delicate question, the very concept of ordered liberty precludes allowing every person to make his own standards on matters of conduct in which society as a whole has important interests. Thus, if the Amish asserted their claims because of their subjective evaluation and rejection of the contemporary secular values accepted by the majority, much as Thoreau rejected the social values of his time and isolated himself at Walden Pond, their claims would not rest on a religious basis. Thoreau's choice was philosophical and personal, rather than religious, and such belief does not rise to the demands of the Religion Clauses.

In other words, it has to be not just a belief, but a deep-seated fundamental belief. See also Thomas v. Review Board for similar reasoning that simply says "it can't just be a philosophical belief".

The flip side of the First Amendment coin is that "free speech" also precludes "compelled speech". The law cannot compel you to express a viewpoint (of any kind) and cannot forbid you from expressing a viewpoint. A law forbidding hating a person is unconstitutional, so a lot of your question is based on a false premise.

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