I find myself having mixed feelings about this idea of “criticize the ideology, not the person” when discussing religion.  I guess it’s politically correct to look at it that way, but I wonder if it’s unintentionally disrespectful.  On the one hand I get that people are usually born into their religious communities, indoctrinated from a young age, and experience serious difficulties rethinking that whole worldview.  I have been through that, as have many people on this site.  We have used evidence and reason to arrive at the conclusion that belief in gods cannot be supported.

But on the other hand, if we did it, why can’t they?  Why do we not credit them with the same capacity for reason and self-examination and change, and therefore hold them responsible when they don’t use it? 

When we say we should criticize the ideology and not the person, aren’t we in effect saying, “Don't blame them; blame their holy book instead.  Those poor simple people just don’t have the mental ability we have or the strength to follow through.  They are unable to think for themselves or act on their own behalf.  They are victims.”?

It seems condescending.  It seems arrogant.  It seems like a back-handed way of congratulating ourselves for being more clever and superior. 

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I've run into that with people of all flavors and am glad you pointed it out. 

However theists are far worse about it than others with people holding far left or right political ideologies coming in tied for second.  At times the rhetoric of all three is almost identical and  lacking in reason.

Theists and christians in particular are required to hold reason below faith which renders most of them incapable of reason all together.  People who hold on to political ideologies with blind quasi-religious zeal are prone to do the same.

I think you're mixing up our fundamentalist/Baptist friends with all the rest of the theists and Christians.  They are the Tea Party of American theism (and it should not be a surprise that in a lot of cases they are also the Tea Party of politics).

I am perhaps looking at this a bit too Marxian, but to me the root of these groups in the U.S. seems to be economic.   With the exception of the fracking boom, the rural south and plains have become economic backwaters.  Farming is mechanized and increasingly computerized. Robotic planting and harvesting are next.  Even good-but-under-educated farmers can't compete with big data mechanized GMO farming. Young farmers these days are kids with agro-science masters degrees and minors in computer science and engineering.

Those areas of the country are dying.  Their young people are leaving in droves, moving to the cities and coasts.  They're leaving a grey and aging population that is not supportive of education or development but is very susceptible to fear because they see their way of life ending.  They're also susceptible to an almost religious fervor about petroleum extraction, the only high-paying labor intensive industry left.  They complain bitterly about taxes for urban infrastructure or social programs while ignoring that they are net recipients of tax dollars because of the cost of rural roads, and rural phone/internet, and rural electricity, and the farm subsidies propping them up.

Their attitudes are all very understandable given their situation.  Even the oddly irrational notion of needing to carry concealed weaponry for protection from evil-doers in rural Oklahoma makes some sense in the context of the bigger economic picture.

The religious extremism and apocalypticism also is understandable in that context.  Unproductive, not rational, in some ways desperate... but understandable.

Their attitudes are all very understandable given their situation.  Even the oddly irrational notion of needing to carry concealed weaponry for protection from evil-doers in rural Oklahoma makes some sense in the context of the bigger economic picture.

The religious extremism and apocalypticism also is understandable in that context.  Unproductive, not rational, in some ways desperate... but understandable.

That is a very interesting perspective! It's sad, but maybe it sheds some light on Bible Belt reactions to secularism and globalism.

I don't know where you live but you obviously don't know anything about the regions and the people you're talking about.

You THINK I'm confusing fundamentailsts/Baptists with the rest of theists etc....  I assure you I'm more competent at determining my words and their meaning than you are at reinterpreting them fit your shortsightedness.

Your own words prove you know nothing about what you speak.  The only part of this that has a toehold in reality id the first sentence..."I am perhaps looking at this a bit too Marxian, but to me the root of these groups in the U.S. seems to be economic. With the exception of the fracking boom, the rural south and plains have become economic backwaters.  Farming is mechanized and increasingly computerized. Robotic planting and harvesting are next.  Even good-but-under-educated farmers can't compete with big data mechanized GMO farming. Young farmers these days are kids with agro-science masters degrees and minors in computer science and engineering.  

Those areas of the country are dying.  Their young people are leaving in droves, moving to the cities and coasts.  They're leaving a grey and aging population that is not supportive of education or development but is very susceptible to fear because they see their way of life ending.  They're also susceptible to an almost religious fervor about petroleum extraction, the only high-paying labor intensive industry left.  They complain bitterly about taxes for urban infrastructure or social programs while ignoring that they are net recipients of tax dollars because of the cost of rural roads, and rural phone/internet, and rural electricity, and the farm subsidies propping them up.

Their attitudes are all very understandable given their situation.  Even the oddly irrational notion of needing to carry concealed weaponry for protection from evil-doers in rural Oklahoma makes some sense in the context of the bigger economic picture.

The religious extremism and apocalypticism also is understandable in that context.  Unproductive, not rational, in some ways desperate... but understandable."

Next time you might want to delve into the issues before your Marxian arrogance shows your Marxian ignorance again. Your opinions are at least 15 years behind the times.  Mister, I travel the "plains" from Canada to Texas that you're talking about and into the upper Southern States.  Your delusions about people carrying guns everywhere they go are nothing but what you've been spoon fed by your chosen ideology provider.

People should be able to defend what they say and believe or they will begin to say and believe things that are indefensible.

So, @Virgil, defend what you say.  Rather than simply calling me ignorant or behind the times, or claim knowledge because you have traveled through places where some of us live and work, explain your reasoning.  Share your observational data. 

Over lunch today I was speaking with a superintendent of a rural district in my state.  They've lost 10% of their student population just in the last two years.  Their population demographic is shifting dramatically to retirees.  That story repeats itself across my state, particularly in the areas where the Tea Party is most strongly represented.  Not 15 years ago.  This year, and in the elections this month, and in the distribution of gun permits and hunting licenses right now.

One of the benefits of addressing the idea, rather than the person, is that it helps us avoid becoming dogmatic in our own thinking.

If you expose the problems, inconsistencies and contradictions of the ideology and the person refuses to change his/her mind, then it is time to criticize the person for engaging in self-deception and willful ignorance.

I never directly criticize the person when confronted with the problems, inconsistencies and contradictions of an ideology. I operate on these words...

"People should be able to defend what they say and believe or they will begin to say and believe things that are indefensible."

I INSIST they defend what they say and believe and I do it relentlessly.  Since 99% of what they say and believe is indefensible the battle is lost for them before it's fought.  They become so confused actually having to attempt to defend something that can't be defended they get mad and go away. 

The good part is they will never again come at me with the same line of bullshit.  In fact they usually avoid discussing politics and religion around me after that.

But my question is why NOT criticize the person?  Is it not possible to point out in a constructive way that their idea is perhaps not worthy of them? 

Rather than picking apart WHAT they believe, can we not ask what's wrong with YOU that you believe it?  What's missing in YOU that makes you need all that?

Reply by Erock68la on Thursday

But my question is why NOT criticize the person?  Is it not possible to point out in a constructive way that their idea is perhaps not worthy of them? 

Rather than picking apart WHAT they believe, can we not ask what's wrong with YOU that you believe it?  What's missing in YOU that makes you need all that?

Because when you do that it's easy for you to make it a personal attack as you have just done or it's easy for them to assume it's a personal attack even when you do't mean it that way.  Once that happens it becomes a war of ego and not a discussion of ideas and beliefs.

In my work, when dealing with clients with deep-set persistent delusional beliefs it is not helpful to challenge the delusion itself. It is more useful to try to identify the needs the person is trying to get met through their delusion. For example, a person who believes he is the president may need esteem and respect from others.
Not a personal attack; an attempt to understand the person. But you're right; it can be a touchy conversation.

NOW I UNDERSTAND!  hahahahahha!  Psychologist?  (So is my guy.)  We're talking about 2 very different situations and in your case you are right.

But that doesn't apply to discussing politics, religion and gay marriage with a cluster of retired old men and ranchers at 5 am in a cafe in a town of 1500.  The word "discussing" can't be emphasized enough in that sentence.  In the 4 years I've been here they've come from hating gays and trying to organize to get me to leave  to insisting the mayor put me on the Zoning board. It's to the point with them that they value my input on issues and have changed their views a great deal because of it.

It doesn't apply to this example either... (Reg out to give birth to snakes when he reads this. Someone get ready with a snake stick)

We have a state congressman named Steve Hickey who's also a fundamentalist minister.  January 2014 he said these words justifying his version of the Arizona anti-gay bill.

“Religious rights need to continue to trump gay rights. Otherwise, we’re heading down the road of Iran, where it’s convert or die, be quiet or die,” Hickey said. “If we want to talk about church and state, this is a bill that keeps the state out of my church.”

TO THIS DAY I hound him about that and so do many others -- anytime we have an opportunity in public -- to get him to defend those words but he can't because they are totally indefensible.  Using a comparison of  a non-existent invention of the fundamentalists called "gay rights" to a theocratic nation without human rights to justify legislation to promote a religious agenda is the epitome of not only dog-biting-tail logic but sound more like a line from a brainy comedian than a legislator or religious leader.

Not only do we continue to INSIST Hickey defend those indefensible words we INSIST other fundamentalists defend them.  They know they can't and they don't have the capacity to admit it so they "Fut the Shuck Up" and go away and stew over it.

That single gaff has done more in this state to undermine the credibility of Steve Hickey and his supporters than anything.  It's so powerful all I have to do to is mention Steve Hickey to a fundamentalist and they roll their eyes, back up and change the subject to the weather.

Continually persisting for people defend their indefensible words and beliefs is a lethal strategy in undermining their credibility, words and beliefs.

- See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/sponsor-south-dakota-anti-gay...

To paraphrase W.C. Fields…….I always keep a flagon of whiskey close by in case I see a snake…which I also keep close by.

I have started to hear assorted Catholics and some of their horror show apologetic “think tanks” here in Ireland coming out with similar comments to those of Steve Hickey. They still insist that “gay rights” are somehow separate from “human rights”. I use the latter in discussions (if that is the word) with them and it annoys them no end. It is a disgrace that this is still even an issue. I view anyone that objects to it as a bigot. How dare they insist that other citizens are not to be allowed the same rights and freedoms.

 If I am discussing (arguing) this with “everyday” Christians and they “roll their eyes, back up and change the subject to the weather”, I will repeat my question and ask them why they do not condemn the abuse of some peoples Human Rights because Christians fundamentalists demand the State does not change the law.  I will call them bigots to their faces if they do not condemn it because not doing so means they are condoning it. This tacit agreement allows the Steve Hickeys of the world to continue to spew out their perverse beliefs. They are vile and immoral people but then most Christian fundamentalist are when it comes to respecting the rights of those that do not believe what they believe.

Their worldview is completely retarded. I have zero concern for the feelings of these fundamentalists. I do not care how “offended” they choose to become when I point out where they are wrong. I am not trying to reach some sort of accommodation or middle ground with them. I want them gone. They are my enemy. I want them and their influence removed and separated from the affairs of State. They can sit in their churches and gnash their teeth all day long if they want but just as long as I don’t have to listen to them. 

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