Religion, Diversity and Tolerance

History & Cultural Heritage


Before we start:

A Webquest is a discovery tour, where the learner is his/her own guide! You decide where you will go to find results. Often, more than one answer is OK!

In this Webquest, we will look into Religion and Tolerance. You must have noticed that in recent years terrorist assaults have taken place as a result of religious intolerance and hate. We have seen examples on TV or read about it on the internet-based news media or classic newspapers.

Some people say that religion-based terrorism will have a major impact on daily life in Europe and elsewhere for years to come. It did when ISIS was a major political and military factor in the Middle East. Fundamentalist speech and violence against people with a different belief or world vision was prominent. Politicians and church leaders say this phenomenon will not disappear easily: we may have to live with it for decades or longer. Contrary to this, there are people who promote religious tolerance, mutual understanding and cooperation between leaders of different religions. They establish movements, striving for peaceful co-existence between various religious groups and they state that no religion or belief deserves a higher status than another.


In this WebQuest you will investigate aspects of religious intolerance versus co-existence; the search will take you back in history to acquire basic background knowledge: to the earliest times in human history and to different parts of the world. You will find out who was involved in those actions and how these events may still have an effect on our society today. This will help you understand actions of religious intolerance as they happen today, a fact acknowledged by influential politicians and religious leaders all over the world.


This task may sound simple and easy, but you will have to study very early periods in human history, documented long before the beginning of the Christian era. You must look for traces of the first known division of religions and the oppression of the beliefs of minorities.

We will start with a preparatory assignment, as we need to know what we are talking about:

What is ‘religion’: when do we call a person religious? What does he/she do or think? Sate your opinion “at first sight”, afterwards you will research the facts.

Your next task is to search for civilisations where the first clashes between religions started.

  1. What is the oldest instance of conflicting religions you can find? When did it happen? Who was involved? Were such conflicts common in that time?
  2. Diaspora is a term often used to describe the oppression of a specific religion. It is a Greek word, it literally means: “to scatter about”. Search for information about the Diaspora: it affects a specific religious group, so who are they and why were they seen as enemies or people who deserved to be oppressed? Where did the Diaspora lead those people: can you name some countries (not the continents as mentioned in the picture?


  1. Take one of the countries you found and give details about the situation of the dispersed people in that country. Describe developments and changes in their position or status.
  2. There is also a process called “the African Diaspora”. Does this refer to a dispersion of people as a result form religious oppression?
    Look at the image below. Does this “ring a bell”?


  1. Different religions ruled in Asia over the centuries. Practitioners of these beliefs had their conflicts at times. Look for examples in India or China and describe one of these.
  1. The Roman civilisation seemed not very creative when it comes to the gods they worshipped: all gods were simply copied from Greek religion. Name at least five important Greek gods and their equivalents in the Roman state. These gods represent different aspects of life. You have named five gods, now tell what they stand for.


  1. One Northern-Western European religion had a division of roles between Gods that looked a little bit like the Greek-Roman version. Name five Germanic (Teutonic) Gods and explain their function. What did the Germanic belief say about people dying: what would happen to them? Name a Nordic people that took the Germanic religion all over Europe to places it had not reached before[i].
  2. In later ages the Christian Church became the predominant religious organisation all over Europe, resulting soon in violent conflicts with other expansive religions, like that of the Moors in Spain. What was the religious faith of the Moors? Who fought to end their presence in Spain?
  3. In the early Middle Ages, a famous story tells about a decisive fight against the Moors; it was meant as a kind of report. Charles the Great (Charlemagne) plays an important role, but the star of the battle is a knight called Roland. Look for his story and summarize it in your own words. Here’s the story in a song. You may use it for the summary.
  4. A few centuries after Charles the Great, the Catholic Church was even more powerful in Western Europe and it turned its focus to the Middle East: Israel was considered the cradle of the Christian faith, but it had been taken by Islamic rulers. Pope Urban II became a strong protagonist of the movement to send an army to the Promised Land that would conquer Jerusalem and expel the Muslims.
    In what year did the first Crusade start; you may actually name 2 subsequent years since the army of the farmers started earlier than the army of the knights. One army reached Jerusalem and the other not. Tell what happened.
  5. A nobleman, whose name refers to a Belgian city, became the first king of the Holy Land, including Jerusalem. This kingdom lasted for 90 years Who is this Belgian knight and how long did he enjoy his victory?
  6. How many crusades were there? When was the last one and what happened after its end?


The last crusader.



[i]The Vikings: they conquered land around the Mediterranean Sea (Sicily) and Travelled even as far as the Black Sea and the Russian mainland to settle there.

There are some dark periods in Western European civilisations when violence against people with a different faith was quite normal. Punishment of heretics and misbelievers could go as far as executions, some of which were extremely cruel. Inquiry procedures often involved torture for such a long time, that suspects would confess; not because they were guilty, but because they could no longer endure the torment and confessed, so they would die. In other cases, they got financial penalties, or they were forced to leave the country. We will look at some examples.

  1. Roman Empire: persecution of Christians.
    Just a few years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the new Christian faith reached Rome, the capital of the Empire. Emperor Nero is believed to have ordered severe persecutions and punishments of Christians. Facts and interpretations are still the subjects of discussion between scholars, but many Christians today believe that their fellows in ancient times were executed, only for being Christian. Nero in particular has a bad name: he would have ordered the cruellest forms of capital punishment.

According to these stories, a Christian leader who came to Rome was one of the first victims of these persecutions. He was a leading apostle and is considered to be the first pope: what’s his name and what happened to him?

Abraham Janssens van Nuyssen: Nero (1620)

  1. Inquisition: driving Sephardic Jews from Portugal to the Netherlands

Jews were also targeted by the Spanish-Portuguese Inquisition, many of them fled to the young Dutch Republic, renowned for its freedom of religion: “Amsterdam became one of the most favoured destinations for Sephardic Jews.

Because many of the refugees were traders, Amsterdam benefited greatly from their arrival. Many Jews supported the House of Orange and were in return protected by the “Stadhouder”. Migration to other places than Amsterdam allowed them to build a strong international trading network (like Brazil). Jews were among the founding fathers of the West Indian Company in the Dutch Republic. Their business and family relations helped to establish trading connections with the Levant (Middle East) and Morocco: immigrant Sephardic Jews were a driving force for the Dutch Golden Age. (Source:

On Wikipedia, you can also find this page:

Look it up and tell as much as you can find about the influence of Jews on the Golden Age in the Netherlands.

    1. List all the advantages you can think of, related to admitting immigrants in a country.
    2. And now the same for the disadvantages of admitting immigrants in a country.

  1. Inquisition: persecution of heretics, witches and sinners: The Roman Inquisition
    The Roman Inquisition was an initiative led by church institutions that originated in Spain and soon spread over a number of European countries. The aim was to find, interrogate and punish people who did not commit to the “True (Roman-Catholic) Faith”.
    Look for information about the Inquisition and answer (alone or with your team) the following questions:
    1. When did the Inquisition approximately end? You may find different years mentioned for different countries. Report these years and the countries they apply to.
    2. There are different kinds of Inquisition with different names (like the Spanish): make a list of these varieties of the Inquisition and state their specific goals or areas where they were active. You should also try to set up a timeline for the period during which these Inquisitions were active. Like:
      • Start in (year) in (country or area)
      • to achieve (goal),
      • most active or successful period (from .. to ..)
      • end of the initiative (year).
    3. Estimated number of people interrogated, convicted or executed.
  2. What do you think when you see these facts and numbers? Discuss it in your group or write down the main lines of what the group expressed.
  3. Some varieties of Inquisition targeted especially minorities, like the Jews in Europe. Name at least two other groups or minorities that were targeted more than others in the history of Inquisitions.
    Note: the Inquisition was also active in the colonies: every European country with a colony has extended the Inquisition to those overseas areas, such as Northern and Southern America, Africa, Asea etcetera.
  4. Have a look at the picture on the right: tell as exactly and completely as you can what kind of scene is shown here. Where did this likely happen and why? The lady in the picture is Mariana de Carvajal; why would she be executed during the Inquisition?


Let us research some of the most important and recent instances of conflicts between religions: the perceived intolerance of the Islamic Faith against other religions, especially Christianity.

  1. Is there a specific reason for the animosity between Islamic and Christian believers that you can think of[i]?
  2. Although in many Western civilisations (Europe, both America’s, Australia) adhering to a religion is a free choice of the people, in some countries a state religion is mentioned in their constitution. Name at least five states around the world that have a state religion.
  3. Religions are not always related to a national constitution, also predominant groups may ensure that their religion is predominant in society, without posing legal restrictions on other religions. Can you think of a country where this is the case?[ii]
  4. Some countries are more or less explicitly against any religion at all, although they might tolerate these religions being practised by the people. In such cases, the state follows and promotes a dogma or the learnings of certain (previous) leaders and philosophers. Their position can be summarized as follows: “Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes“
    Who said this and when? What does it mean? Which political and social-economic system or form of government is related to or based on this statement?
    Name some states that have this specific political and social-economic system. Select one of these states: does it oppress or encourage religious freedom?
  5. Several religious fundamentalist groups with extreme opinions about other religious beliefs than their own, are active today or were so recently. Name five of them (at least one in the USA), their place of origin or where they are most active now. In what way is their specific religion different from others and what makes them a fundamentalist or extremist movement?


[i]Conflicts between Islam and Christianity go back to the days that Spain was conquered by the Moors. Ever since, even in times of peaceful co-existence, there was always an underlying mistrust or envy and it led regularly to conflicts. But this observation offers no explanation of how it started.

[ii]Israel would qualify for this, because of the dominant status of the Jews in this country. Some even say that the Palestinian Islamic part of the population lives under severe oppression; some people call that oppression a new form of Apartheid (that was predominant decades ago in South Africa).


All your sources can be internet-based: websites, social media, Wikipedia and any other online place where relevant information is stored. However, you may also use paper-based information: newspapers, books and documents in the local or school library or wherever you find them.

Make sure you check your sources: especially news media may publish “coloured” information which pleases the owners and the advertisers. The same applies to other media: some are biased because of personal preferences of the authors/journalists: they may favour some person (actor, musician, sports hero) and be inclined to choose their side when there’s a conflict of interests.

Whatever your source of information is, mention it.

You don’t need to be objective, although that would be highly appreciated. Everything you say is OK, if your reasons and the evidence you use, are transparent. Other people should be able to check your findings.

That is the basic rule in science: data and reasoning must be transparent.


What did you learn about religion? And what about (in)tolerance? Did this Webquest change your ideas about religion and tolerance and the importance of those issues? What historical facts did really surprise you?

Did the Webquest perhaps help to change you: the way you will think and act in the future?

After working on these tasks: what is the knowledge or the opinions you will take along with you? What do you think about religion-based violence?

Do you share the worries about religious intolerance in our own society?


Rating your results

The table below shows how the teacher will evaluate the results of your work. We advise that you sit together (you or your group with the teacher) and go through the remarks that were made during the evaluation. Joint evaluation can also be done in a full classroom setting, provided that the whole class has worked on the same Webquest.



not bad



Assignment 1: definition and history of religious intolerance

Answers to questions

max .. points

It seemed as if you hardly worked on the questions.

You provided some historic data with few comments to show how intolerance between religions started. If people didn’t know about religious intolerance, they wouldn’t be much wiser with your answers.

You worked a little bit on gathering information, but you clearly have not learned much about how intolerance between religions started, even though there’s much information on the internet.

It’s a start, but you can improve, by striving for more complete answers.

You worked pretty hard on gathering information and you clearly know a lot about how intolerance between religions started and its importance in society. You used the internet well. This was a very good start, but you still can improve the information you give.

Your work is a fine example of gathering and presenting information and you clearly know how to use various media, like the internet, as a source of information.

This is close to perfection: it is hard to see how you could improve your work on religious intolerance.

Assignment 2: Religious conflicts through the ages

Answers to questions

max .. points

It seemed as if you did little effort: you gave hardly any valid reasons why conflicts between religions happened.

Also, you did not tell much about the different religions and their main features, although the facts are available in publications, including on the internet.

You did some good efforts: you were able to give at least some reasons for conflicts between religions. You were able to find some information about different religions and their main features, but you could make better use of sources. It’s a start, but you still can improve.

You worked pretty hard on gathering information and you were able to explain why people wanted slaves.

You also wrote well about the information you found, mentioning different religions and their main features: a very good start.

Your work is a fine example of presenting the complex data that you got from your various sources.

You explained the relations and conflicts between different religions and their main features. This is close to perfection!

Assignment 3: effects of religious persecution

Answers to questions & argumentation

max .. points

Argumentation concerning the persecution of heretics or people with a different faith were not coherent; you hardly know who the main persecutors were, who the victims and what was done to them. It is doubtful that you know what persecution means.

Argumentation concerning the persecution of heretics or people with a different faith shows little coherence, you merely reproduced what information sources tell, but at least you were able to find them. It’s a start, open for further improvement.

Argumentation concerning the persecution of heretics or people with a different faith showed that you found relevant information and presented it well; you showed a good understanding of religious persecution. It’s a nice start; improvement is still possible.

Argumentation concerning the persecution of heretics or people with a different faith was coherent and complete. You found highly relevant data and statements.

You presented clearly what religious persecution is.

It’s close to perfection.

Assignment 4: Religious Intolerance and Violence between Religions today

Answers to questions & argumentation

max .. points

Facts concerning religious intolerance between people of different faiths were not presented clearly; you hardly know the main actors in conflicts and what the conflicts are about. It is doubtful that you are aware of what happens in the world around you.

Facts concerning religious intolerance between people of different faiths could be presented better; you named the main actors in conflicts and what these are about. You reproduced statements, but at least you were able to find them.

It’s a start, open for further improvement.

Facts concerning present-day religious intolerance between people of different faiths showed that you found the most relevant information and presented it well. You showed a good understanding of religious intolerance today. It’s a good start, but improvement is possible.

You told a coherent and almost complete story about present-day religious intolerance between people of different faiths. You presented highly relevant data and statements, showing clearly what religious intolerance these days is about.

It’s close to perfection.

Your leaner report:


argumentation of your personal achievements


max .. points


Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements was hardly specific, consisting of simple and unrelated statements. There is reasonable doubt that you learned much.

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements lacks solid coherence. At least you were able to name a few.

It’s a start, ready for improvement.

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements showed good coherence. You named a few things that you learned and what it means to you.

It’s a good start!

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements was complete. You were able to point out clearly what you learned, about the subject and about yourself! That’s what we wanted to see happening.

Teacher instruction

This Webquest is suitable for classroom work of small groups or for working in distant, online educational environments, where students work individually or again in groups. In the latter case, they will have to use modern communication facilities like web-conferencing (Skype, Zoom) in order to cooperate effectively. In the case of distant, online training, the progress in this rather long Webquest as well as the evaluation process both need extra attention and care. No doubt it will require online communication between teacher and pupil(s) to clarify certain issues; also, teachers need to be aware of a possible holdup, when learners do not understand a certain task and stop working.

The introduction is the only information online students will have when starting their Webquest. The historic orientation of the first question will take them straight to certain information that further clarifies the subject. In the classroom, the teacher can introduce the subjects of religious intolerance and conflicts or wars between religious groups and regimes in any way he/she likes, while the tasks for the students will remain the same.

Not all the questions and tasks will lead to straight and absolute true answers. In some cases, pupils will find different information, according to the sources they used, in other cases, learners are asked to tell “as much as they can”.

Comparison of the answers given by pupils in the classroom or online (using web-conferencing), as well as discussing the opinions given by the pupils, is an important part of the evaluation of this Webquest.

It is good for pupils to be aware of the discussions about different religions and the intolerance that the world witnesses at times, whether it is a problem in their direct environment or not. For some, this Webquest may be the start of developing their own opinion, for instance, young Dutch learners may start to think about why religious people should be fighting or discriminating against each other at all.

Some of the footnotes are meant to help the learners to find answers, but a few are giving away the results of the search that learners will have to do. Be sure to take those footnotes out before giving this Webquest to your learner

Evaluation of learning achievements

In this section we will not dive very deep into the underlying educational theories about evaluation and testing: there’s too much out there than we could possibly cover in this small project report.

Instead, we want to concentrate on procedures that enable both students/pupils and their teachers to establish if the learning goals of the Webquest were achieved and, if so, to what extent. We recommend teachers make use of a combined evaluation procedure, that consists of:

  1. Statements by learners (after being asked to do so)
    • telling what they learned about the subject (knowledge-oriented self-evaluation): now (after going through the Webquest) I know that …
    • telling what he/she learned about herself/himself (formative evaluation, in this case, diagnostic self-evaluation): now (after going through the Webquest) I know about myself that I …
      This pair of basic statements add up to a so-called learner report, in which the pupil/student reflects on what the Webquest brought him/her in terms of acquired knowledge and new personal views and attitudes concerning the subject.

    For instance:

    • ‘I learned that in medieval times the hygiene of people was hardly a concern which helped to let epidemic diseases like the Plague cause so many casualties’ Or:
    • ‘I learned the facts and I know the earth is warming, but I cannot understand why people were so stupid to pollute the world and let it warm up so much.
    • ‘I learned from the information about diseases that this subject is more appealing to me than I would expect in advance: maybe I should consider a medical career’. Or:
      ‘The Webquests confirms what I thought already: I could not care less about the climate and global warming. In fact, I thought it was all a hoax and I still do!’

    This kind of assessment seems more subjective than it actually is: in his standard work on testing and evaluation (and much more), simply called Methodology (1974), Prof. A.D. de Groot described how consistent the student’s self-evaluations appeared to be: when asked again after 5 or 10 years, their evaluation would almost be the same. De Groot advised teachers to use the learner report as a start for joint evaluations, striving for consensus between teacher and student/pupil about the learning outcomes and their value for the learner, but also compared with the learning objectives as stated in the curriculum.

  2. The learning achievements are visible in the output produced by the students: it is physical evidence: reports, answers to questions asked in the Webquest, presentations, and performance during presentations (preferably recorded). The teacher completes an evaluation grid stating clearly what the learning outcomes for the student/pupil are. The categories in the grid can be modified by the teacher to cover more precisely the content of a Webquest.

    >We advise teachers to use the grid to start a joint evaluation discussion, aiming at consensus or at least understanding between the teacher and the student/pupil about the learning outcomes: were they achieved (as planned in the curriculum and communicated before the Webquest started) and to what extent? To communicate the learning goals clearly before any learning activity starts, is a transparency requirement that is widely acknowledged in the educational community. The history of making learning objectives explicit goes back to the evaluation ‘Bible’ by Bloom, Hastings and Madaus: ‘Handbook on formative and summative evaluation of student learning’ (1971), a standard work that also served as inspiration for the earlier mentioned Prof. De Groot.


The procedure also applies when students/pupils have worked together on a Webquest. The teacher will ask questions about individual contributions: ‘What did you find? What part did you write? How did you find the illustrations? Who made  the final presentation?’

All the evidence (of learning efforts and outcomes plus joint evaluations) is preferably stored in the learning portfolio of the student, or in any other suitable storage system (folders with written or printed documents, online collection of files, etcetera ).

Changes in personal points of view and feelings are harder to value and here the consensus between teacher and student/pupil about experiences during the learning process provides essential insights.

The grid below gives an example of how the evaluation of the learning process and achievements can be shaped: what kind of reactions to the Webquest does the teacher expect and how valuable are they? Is the teacher capable to explain the value or score allocated to answers or presentations given by pupils? Does the pupil/student understand the evaluation outcomes, and does he/she agree? If an agreement (consensus is not possible, it is still the teacher who decides how to value the student’s work.

Please note that the text in the grid addresses the pupil/student directly: this is important and it is in fact a prerequisite for using such an evaluation grid: it is specifically meant to enable a discussion of learning results between teacher and student and not to communicate learning achievements of learners to others who had no direct role in the Webquest.

Evaluation Grid

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Funded by
sCOOL-IT erasmus logo EN

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

Funded by
sCOOL-IT erasmus logo EN

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

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