Religions of Iran: From Prehistory to the Present

Category: Religious Studies
Author: Richard Foltz
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by fusiongyro   2017-08-19
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.