Should we respect religion?
The part that inspired me was the reaction of British Christians to a broadcast of the Jerry Springer Opera sometime in 2005. Apparently it mocked religion and offended them quite badly. This brought me back to topic that has been talked about quite a bit lately, especially because of Richard Dawkins, and that is “Does religion deserve respect?”
My answer should come as no surprise: no, it does not. Religion is an idea just like any other, and just like any other it should stand on its merits alone. Personally, I can’t see any reason to get offended over what an outsider says of your religion. If you’re so secure in your faith, shouldn’t you just shrug it off?
I suspect it’s because believers know how absurd their religion is, and don’t want anyone to point out its flaws. It’s very easy to make almost any religion look very stupid by simply summing up its mythology, and that could make people question their faith, which is a huge no-no. But of course, that’s something like a religious person saying I’m an atheist because I want to live outside god’s morals (which is absolutely ridiculous). Perhaps because I hold nothing sacred, I simply don’t understand what it’s like to have something sacred mocked.
Nonetheless, should we not mock religion? I very highly doubt that any Christian would be upset over the near-constant mocking of Islam in our popular culture, and I very highly doubt that any Muslim would object to a thorough thrashing of Christianity. It seems as though the only religion that the religious want to protect is their own. Which is an understandable, if untenable, position.
Given the fact that we don’t hold any other personal ideology beyond criticism, that restrictions on mocking religion constrict free speech (which is always bad, if only as a “slippery slope”), and that the religious feel free to mock other religions, I can see no reason to automatically respect religion.
That being said, I want to make a distinction between criticizing or mocking religion as an idea, and doing it specifically to upset a person. If people get offended because you make their religion look stupid, that’s their problem. If you intentionally use someone’s sensitivity about their religion to upset them, then that’s your problem. Personally, I try not to discuss religion with anyone who I care about and may offend, and I think that most atheists feel similarly (as far as I can tell).
Now if the religious would stop calling atheists evil, immoral, etc. Oh hypocrisy…
As a final note, I will shortly be giving my number one reason that Christianity is, well, bullshit. It’s good, believe me.