I've often heard it said that we should all respect the beliefs of others, but I don't agree. Why should we respect a belief for which there is no credible evidence? Surely, all we can reasonably be expected to do is acknowledge that people do have a right to believe whatever they choose? After all, we can't MAKE anyone believe anything, can we?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that we should be rude or unkind to people of faith, but respect them and their religion? I don't think so. Respect is something that a person has to earn and merely repeating stories and phrases learnt by rote in Sunday school or church, without ever having given them a second, independent, thought is not IMHO deserving of respect.

I suspect that most people confuse respect with courtesy, which IS something I think everyone deserves, and which costs the giver nothing. So I think it's perfectly acceptable to politely treat religious people's faith with the contempt it deserves.

What does everyone else think?

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Unless one loves chaos, one has to act as much as possible in a way allowing us all to get along. It's been said that the number one virtue in a family is to get along with each other. Anyone who's been in a family torn apart by internal conflict will understand what I'm talking about. Atheism will never be universal, and I doubt if it will even be the majority view because many and perhaps most people would like to believe that they'll live forever, that they can easily be forgiven for their transgressions even if their victims don't forgive them, and they like the sense of community of church embodied not only in the worship gatherings but in bake sales, rummage sales, fish fries, church picnics, and other events.

Civility doesn't require respect for any specific belief -- just restraint. Unnecessary hostility isn't really good for anything.

In the U.S., our democratic and pluralistic nation has a foundation and tradition of tolerance that has seen better days. Freethought was valued by our founding fathers and was more open until Darwin came along.

I think the Internet probably plays a larger part in the current freethought renaissance than it's given credit for. A lot of the hostility from atheists against believers stems from an increased awareness of the evils of faith but, more importantly, more common debate between us . . . debate that shows a definite tendency for denial and stubbornness on the part of believers.

At least, that's my impression. Your mileage may vary.

I think atheists need to remember that the same freedom of religion which protects snake handlers and Scientologists also protects us. We can't demand respect under the law on the one hand while trampling on others' freedom of religion on the other.

Isn't it a bit of a contradiction of terms to say that "freedom of religion" applies to atheists? In addition to that do you think that it is always correct to respect the law? What if that law was in Nazi Germany (a messianic secular movement) and you were a Jew? What if democracy by virtue of its tolerance loses its freedoms to Islam and Political Correctness? This has already happened in Europe. In the UK people get locked up for tweeting. In Finland you get locked up for so called  "hate speech" even in private - implying that there is not even freedom of thought. The problem with freedom is that it has to be fought for - it is not a right. To fight for it means that somewhere along the line tolerance stops. It's a good idea perhaps to stop at the division between reality and delusion - where religion starts.

The law has been interpreted to protect any stance on religion. Surely you don't want to wind that advantage back. Many terms in the law are "terms of art," meaning that they mean their legal definition, not what the words might seem to mean on their own in plain English.

As for the rest of what you said, as I say often here "There are only two kinds of rights: legislated and imaginary." The first sort are the sort to be fought for, the others are for people to bitch and gripe about, thinking that they'll just be handed over because they think they should have them or believe they already have them. You don't actually have any right until there is a legitimate authority behind enforcing it, because rights are entitlements and you're not entitled to something just because you say so. If you simply take or take over something, you have it but you don't yet have a right to it.

I don't see "freedom" as being any sort of right. It's a "state" which can only be maintained through constant vigilance and struggle.

As I said or implied, rights aren't there simply because you exist. They need to be established under law, and then vigilance is needed to make sure the intent of the law and application of same aren't eroded.

Where would the right to remain silent belong? And why do people never seem interested in it?

As some have noted, the verb "respect" is ambiguous, and some will use that ambiguity to get the camel's nose under the tent.  You agree that they are entitled to a less inclusive form of respect, and then when they demand a more inclusive form, they claim you've already agreed to it.

There is indeed a difference between respecting the person and his right to his opinion, and respecting the opinion itself.  But both are conditional.  Particularly when that opinion is made manifest in the person's actions.  An opinion that results in honor killings is worthy of no respect whatsoever, and the person's actions in committing the killings remove all need to respect him.

Robert Karp's graphic, I find a bit contradictory.  He says on the one hand that people have the right to express their views.  But then he says they don't have the right to tell him that he is evil or is going to hell.  But is that not an expression of their views?  (He's right though about the next sentence, re: imposition.)  I believe they have that right (there are caveats--they don't have the right to do so at your expense or using your stuff to do so).  But by the same token you have the right to ignore them.

But they don't have the right to expect you to want to interact with them after that point, or a right to have you respect that opinion.  And you do have the right to think a lot less of them for holding that opinion.  ("Rights" are solely about what may or may not be legally prohibited, not what you must be willing to tolerate from would-be friends.)

 I have no problem with your statement that it is courtesy, not respect , that is the question. But I would say that even courtesy is hard to bestow at times. I live in the Bible Belt, in Texas, the home of the American Taliban. I am constantly confronted with religious influences . It tries ones' patience to be sure and makes me feel like a man without a country. If I do venture in to a discussion on religion , I'll extend that courtesy until the other person crosses a line . At that time I typically walk away. When you look at the premise of being courteous, it is certainly always beneficial , even if only concerning self respect ; but one must also remember that you are dealing with an opposition who inherently does not extend the same approach to reasonable debate. Although they expound the teachings of Jesus , in reality their morality is based in the Old Testament. Standing your ground firmly, presenting facts politely that allow for the planting of seeds of inquiry and ending the debate while everyone is still civil , will in the long one be the best approach. I don't think courtesy should ever require submission, either on a personal or a public level.

I will respect the right of a person to hold any particular belief and I will defend their right to hold that same belief. That said however I do not respect any belief that demands my respect just because it is someone’s belief. The trouble with most theists and religions in general is that they think that having Faith is superior to not having it. I have often heard the line “Well at least Muslims believe in something” when I debate with Theists. It is this assumed superiority that leads to them getting on the defensive every time secular society advances (evolves even).

There never seems to be a problem making fun of politicians or lampooning sport stars but make a joke on TV about religion or draw a cartoon and there is an immediate outcry from the “offended” party. They are even ready to murder people. Theists are always the first to judge and the first to cast stones. They never turn the other cheek. Praise the Lord or else…

As soon as I tell them that I do not believe what they believe they will show me their respect by telling me that I am going to burn for eternity if I don’t convert to their belief system. Whatever, that does not bother me. What I find most annoying about them is their complete inability to show any reason, apart from their book, for me to believe it. All they have is Faith and I find it disingenuous of anyone to insist that they have a divine revealed Truth straight from the creator of the universe without being able to justify holding that belief with even the slightest bit of evidence whatsoever. What is there to respect? Why is it so difficult for them to understand that their faith is completely subjective?

I am reminded of the time that the BBC had to apologise to the people who were “outraged” by Prof. Brian Cox because he said astrology was complete rubbish. (sorry no reference to hand). Well it is complete rubbish. The belief in it and the respect practitioners of it expect is no different to having belief in gods. Both have the same amount of credibility. What is there to respect?

The following statement is
a. funny
b. not funny
c. disrespectful
d. true

"Science searches for a cure for cancer and religion for a cure for homosexuality".

Better still listen to this for Respect.

You should have "e. all of the above." I'd select e.

" The trouble with most theists and religions in general is that they think that having Faith is superior to not having it."

Does that go for Satanists? They are superior to atheists?

You may not agree with what I say, but I'll defend to your death, my right to say it.

I just borrowed this.  :)


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