I'm struggling a lot, lately, with this idea of respect. Specifically, respecting other people's beliefs. Which is something that I'm often called on to do, and that honestly makes me feel like a big liar. Because I don't respect anyone's religious belief, if it includes a God (or several). I find it silly and liken it to mental illness. But, to be respectful, I'm supposed to say "well, it's cool if you want to worship an invisible man in the sky, I totally respect your decision to do that." 


I mean, at what point does completely bullshitting someone become just as disrespectful as saying "dude you're full of shit"? 

Views: 50

Comment by Great Dane on July 26, 2011 at 12:28pm

I do not in any way respect religion - I only tolerate it.


By definition, I respect good things and tolerate bad things.

Comment by Jess Schonberg on July 26, 2011 at 12:51pm

I suppose that makes sense. But how do you spin that for people who essentially demand that you respect their beliefs? Do you just lie to them to keep the peace? 

Comment by Jimmy Boy on July 26, 2011 at 1:10pm

It's a religious fallacy that we should respect beliefs.  We shouldn't.  And religious people don't either.  Evidence?  Well - everytime they eat a beef burger they, without caring, offend every Hindu in the world.  So it's total BS. 

The trick is to point it out.  It's actually much better for us all if we respect people - ie their right to freedom of speech, association, basic rights etc, than hold out some mythical right to respect for our beliefs, however batshit they might be. We should actively disresepct unsubstantiated beliefs.

Comment by Andy Carrington on July 26, 2011 at 1:11pm

Respect does not have to mean that you stand idly by and allow them to preach at you or others without challenging them. Martin said it best with "tolerate", you don't have to hate the person becuase of their beliefs but they should be able to cope with your debating them too....it shouldn't be a problem if their faith is truly that strong.


Being respectful of religion simply means to not persecute them for their belief. It does not mean you should bow to their belief, not confront things you feel are not true it also does not allow them to silence your oposition just becuase you have a different view point.


They have just as much responsibility to respect your belifs too. Sadly it now seems that any contradiction against religion is seen as not respecting their beliefs, this is simply not true...after all if they want to talk to an imaginary friend....

Comment by Jimmy Boy on July 26, 2011 at 1:13pm

Jess: I think you have to decide in each situation.  Table top diplomacy means I don't tell it how it is with my aging parents, who demand respect for the Catholicism.  But - other end of the spectrum - someone whos stops me in the street, engages me in covnersation in the pub...absolutely no chance.  I spell it out and point out that they definitely do not respect other peoples beliefs however much they might think they do.

Comment by Jess Schonberg on July 26, 2011 at 1:15pm
Basically, what I've started to do is be honest, but in the kindest way I can think of. Something to the effect of "I can't respect your beliefs, but I respect you as a person." People get a little grumpy, but I don't feel like a liar, and that sort of thing is very important to me.

Thank you both for your feedback.
Comment by Great Dane on July 26, 2011 at 1:19pm

No, I do not lie about my atheism. If someone asks me I tell them the truth. Most people in my country simple accepts that and carry on with their business - no one here really believes in religion and those who do don't really care that much. If the occasional theist does engage in a discussion I don't mind telling them just how silly their beliefs are and how little they know about how the natural world works. Yes, the truth hurts - so be it.

I think you should also tell the truth when asked. In your country the need for atheists to show their true colours is much needed. American atheists have been respectful for too long. Of course you might want to moderate your response if you consider the theist you are talking with to be crazy and dangerous.

Comment by Nina van der Roos on July 26, 2011 at 2:00pm

I see absolutely no reason at all to "respect" the beliefs of others, especially when they are so obviously (to me) stupid. I will respect their right to believe in whatever idiocy they wish to believe in, I will even stand beside them and help them to defend their right to believe in anything they want to believe in, but do not expect me to "respect" their fairies tale beliefs.


On the odd occasion I am asked if I believe god(s) my reply is a forthright "No, why on earth would I believe in utter nonsense!". No one has ever taken matters any further with me after that.

Comment by Andy Carrington on July 26, 2011 at 2:04pm

I think the above is true (@Nina) if people ask you if you believe in god and you don't, it's not disrespecting their belief if you say so. Its honesty and integrity that you are displaying.


Has anyone actually been told they are disrespecting another person’s beliefs just because they vocalise their disagreement with it?

Comment by Gaytor on July 26, 2011 at 2:15pm

We all have value judgments on "things" or thoughts. Take for example, the Gun discussion that I put up. In it, a poster said to flee a scenario that may become violent. I feel that in most cases you are better off to stand and defend yourself. If you turn your back, you have zero chance of defending against a weapon unless you are faster than the attacker and/or the weapon. Both views have validity but a person has to choose. There isn't a logical way to workout a blanket answer. It boils down to what you feel is the right response. 

In choosing a religion, we can pick apart specific points made by the religious, but we can't really speak to their feelings. How you view the world is a sum of your experiences. If a person chooses to see a god in out life, what harm does it do to you directly? Sure, when they come at you, it becomes important to defend yourself. If they make specific claims that can be addressed, it's time to talk about it. But if they take that part of the world that is spiritual and say that god is the reason, and we choose to not accept that of our fellow man, what thoughts are left that we cannot openly attack without provocation? Should we be attacking without provocation? Why?

Some people find that purple is their favorite color. I have no reason to explain to them why blue is much better until they use purple to oppress me. 


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