It keeps coming up again and again.
Cries from every direction continue to implore us to ‘respect people’s faiths’ as if it is akin to racial discrimination to do otherwise, even though anyone with functional eyes and/or ears should be aware of the havoc religion wreaks in places as far away as Syria and as close as our own backyards.
It is easy to see why calls for us to show respect toward religion flourish. For a reason I can not quite explain, my society, at least, has accepted the idea that if you sprinkle the notion of a ‘god’ into what is otherwise just another in an endless line of philosophies of existence, it becomes a ‘religion’ and is therefore deserving of automatic reverence and respect.
Supporters of this idea will often argue on the basis that, because religions are deeply held beliefs and are tied to people’s familial and cultural traditions, it is akin to racial intolerance to criticize religions, simply because these criticisms cause people to take offense.
So, let’s think about the nature of ‘being offended.’ It seems that we often view this in terms of the ‘offense’ being an affirmative act by the ‘offender’ against the ‘offendee’. In fact, what is really happening, is that the offended person is exercising their right to be offended by something someone else said. The problem arises when people start to believe this right to be offended is actually a right to not be offended.
When people start to believe they have a right to not be offended, and that this right is backed by the master of the universe, god, allah, pig shit or whatever they arbitrarily call it, things can get messy, like real quick.
I don’t need to list examples. I have 4 millenia of recorded history, or so, to back me up.
So, why should we show respect to religion?
The bottom line is that we really should not show religion any more respect than we show a whole host of other ‘deeply held beliefs’. I once knew a schizophrenic meth addict who believed he was being tracked by the CIA. Underneath the veil of meth, he was a smart kid and could articulate the ideas that bloomed in his racing mind in an extremely intriguing manner, so you felt like listening to him, and it was easy to start to at least want to believe on some level he was right, because it was kind of fascinating; but, you knew he was batshit crazy.
I feel the same way about religion. Essentially, religious people have as much of a basis in reality for their beliefs as my tweaker friend had for his. Neither had any real proof, just some stories and ideas, some more compelling than others, that they told themselves to explain this confusing thing called reality.
The difference, is that my meth-loving friend doesn’t have any power or influence over anyone, so he’s basically harmless. Religions, on the other hand, are sometimes so powerful, like in much of the middle east (and parts of the midwest), that they often dominate and control entire societies. In far too many places people are killed, or their lives destroyed in other ways, because of pointless religious disputes that are, at their core, based on complete bullshit.
So, again, why should we show respect for religion?