Perceived Discrimination Among Muslim Americans: Examining the Role of Religious Identity and Authenticity
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This study examined whether religion provides an overall greater sense of well-being when the religion being practiced is Islam. Over 400 Muslims in the US completed a survey assessing perceived discrimination and a variety of well-being indicators. Results suggested that discrimination was positively associated with anxiety, but not significantly associated with religiosity. When examining the two subscales of the religiosity measure: God consciousness and formal practices (going to mosque, praying), discrimination was negatively associated with God consciousness, but positively associated with formal practices. There was no relationship between overall religiosity and anxiety, but overt religious presentation (wearing a hijab, being open about one’s faith) was positively associated with discrimination. These findings suggest that for Muslims in the US, outwardly expressing one’s faith is more strongly tied to experiences of discrimination than religious belief itself. Further analyses revealed that the relationship between experiences of discrimination and well-being outcomes such as anxiety and self-esteem was moderated by authenticity and religiosity. Overall, frequent experiences of discrimination were associated with low levels of well-being regardless of one’s authenticity or religiosity. In contrast, religiosity and authenticity were associated with higher well-being for people with less frequent experiences of discrimination.In addition to these findings, differences were found in both race and gender. Future studies would benefit by focusing on this segment of the population.