“Respect” is Religion’s Cover to do what it Wants
How many times have you been in an argument with a theist, either in person or via the Internet, and they’ve at some point spoken the magic words...
“If you’re an atheist that’s fine, but you should respect my beliefs.”
Argh! A nightmare situation! Political correctness is pulling us away; something tells us that for some reason, we have to respect their beliefs. It’s like kryptonite to us; it is their magic umbrella that they whip out the second a little drop of logic wets their heads. Through those words, they can strut about like a triumphant peacock, safe under their respect umbrella, knowing that polite social convention prohibits us from taking further action. Well I am here to pour acid rain on that umbrella, because I don’t think we do have to respect people’s beliefs, and the beauty of this is that most theists agree with me. They just don’t know they do.
Case in point: the Westboro Baptist Church, the largest collection of nutters that Kansas has to offer, is run by possibly the most hated family in the world. At what point do people, Christian or otherwise, stand up and say,
“Yes they think all soldiers are burning in hell, as is Ghandi. Yes they think homosexuals consume faeces, yes they honestly believe that Barack Obama is literally the antichrist but...You have to respect their beliefs.”
No one says that or thinks that! No, we all treat the WBC how they deserve to be treated, and that is with ridicule. However, I will say this about the Westboro Baptist Church, they actually follow the scriptures; they’ve read them, understood them and follow them as much as the law will allow. They are the least hypocritical Christians out there, which goes to show that you’d have to be bananas to actually follow the scriptures.
Do All Cults Deserve Respect?
Nazism is another example; it wasn’t just a political movement, it was an ideology. It could be described as quasi-religious, a belief that the Aryan race was the perfect race and social groups such as homosexuals, Jews, Blacks, Slavs were inferior and needed exterminating. It’s funny, I can’t quite recall Winston Churchill giving a speech on respecting Nazism. As far as I know, almost the entire world was highly critical of Nazism. It just didn’t float our boat. We just weren’t keen on it. I’m sure poor Adolf was heartbroken the second we started persecuting his beliefs. What about the Aztec religion? Should we respect that? What if a load of people suddenly converted to Aztec belief and started sacrificing people to appease the Sun God? Should we respect that? Their religion does say they are allowed to take the beating heart out of someone before killing them by decapitation if the Sun is angry. Who are we to say that is not okay? Is it too much? Who gets to say what acceptable behaviour is?
Don't let Them Guilt You into Leaving them Alone
The reason I bring this up is because religious leaders are hiding behind this invisible shield of undeserved respect whilst enforcing laws that prohibit the movements of non-believers. The situation in Russia is a fine example of this; Putin has managed to take away the rights of LGBT citizens on grounds of religion, and his blasphemy laws restrict any backlash. Islam is carrying out horrendous tortures of women and children on a daily basis under religion’s protective wing. Christians are marching on abortion, trying and successfully managing to make it illegal in places, and falling back on “respect my beliefs” when challenged on it—which only results in desperate women doing desperate things. What makes the Holy Trinity immune to criticism? Why can we challenge Nazism, bizarre cults like Scientology and the WBC, but not Islam? Why is Islam free to do what it wants? Why can’t we point out the flaws in Christianity? In each book of the Holy Trinity there are blatant passages of hate, untruths, and complete bullshit, but for some reason we are to respect that. Both major religions are very clear how they feel about homosexuals yet for some reason I have to respect that? No I don’t respect that...I don’t respect a book that says,
“If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. (Leviticus 20:13)”
And this little gem from the Qur’ran:
“Slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out... If they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.--2:191”
I don’t have to respect books that promote this. Is there good stuff in the Bible and the Qur’ran? Sure, but there was good stuff in Nazism too. For example, Hitler was very kind to animals. Nazis made the first highway. I liked Nazi attitudes towards the working man, too. But that doesn’t mean I have to respect Nazism, and it doesn’t mean I have to respect the Holy Trinity. A line must be drawn so that religions cannot back people into a corner, hiding safely and offensively behind their phalanx of respect. Too easily and too widely is that formation arranged.
Respect Humanity not Theocracy
We weren’t respecting religion when DOMA was broken as made clear by the Republican response nor were we respecting religion when we stopped burning witches and if we are going to continue to break down the restrictive walls religion has built, we need to do a lot more disrespecting. I am NOT saying we should get out our torches and set fire to churches while chanting “atheism rules!” We need to handle this calmly, rationally and politely. Education and debate; those are the atheist weapons, and it is only with those weapons can we make people see the folly of religion. We need to let the religious in power know they do not have the right to lord their religion over us. If they want to go without sex, alcohol or gambling, that is their choice—but don’t make it so other people have to do the same.
Because there is nothing quite like drunken fornication on a poker table...
Yes you have the right to a belief, and I have the right to criticise it.