The purpose of this thread is to find out what it really means to have "respect for other's beliefs," because I am not convinced that many Atheists do, nor should they feel obligated to. 

My take on what people mean when they talk about respecting others beliefs is more or less respecting them as people and their right to choose where they stand based on the way they see things.  To me that isn't the same as respecting the beliefs in general.  For example, I don't respect Islamic beliefs that homosexuals should be stoned to death, or the belief that you should be able to marry a teenager if you threaten hell on them if they don't agree, the belief that it is wrong for women to be in the work place because it is contrary to the bible, etc.  I think by saying to religious people we respect their beliefs is either lying to them or lying to ourselves.  In the past nearly a year that I have considered myself an Atheist I really have had no problem exposing the problems with religion and taking it apart piece by piece, but how we share our views on religion to others who don't agree is completely up to us, and I haven't found quite as many Atheists that are at my level when it comes to religious debates even when they agree with me.  

To say we respect other's beliefs just because their Christian in my opinion is labeling ourselves more as 2nd class because you don't conform to the Christian society of this country.  To say we respect other's beliefs also means we would have to respect just about any dogmatic belief no matter how ridiculous or harmful to others that it is.  I almost take someone being Christian as them indirectly telling me that I am going to hell because I am not, and I don't by any means respect that belief.  

Any thoughts, questions, comments, concerns, dirty jokes?  

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I respect that other people are human, and like myself, aren't perfect but I absolutely do not respect others' religious beliefs.  If someone is religious, I admit that inside my mind, I kinda give them a tick mark (what that means, I don't know, I don't treat them differently, but I sort of just keep aware of what I say to them.) 

I don't debate with them unless I see actions and behavior that affects others. Even then I try to debate the merits of their behavior -- rather than the beliefs behind that behavior -- because the second you go for the dogma, minds close down.

It's timely that you ask this, because this past weekend I got into an argument with my mother's best friend about politics, directly revolving around population control, a subject near and dear to many a religion's heart.  Needless to say, I don't think she's going to be as eager to spend time with me again, even if I did pay for dinner,

I don't respect their beliefs.  I DO respect their right to hold them.  They have that right up to the point at which the belief would be illegal or harmful. (There are lots of those kind, like stoning gays or adulterers.)  Do you agree that the bulk of religious beliefs are relatively harmless, but simply foolish?  Or am I being too accommodating here?

I don't agree with the "foolish rather than harmless" idea. Anything religious is harmful to some degree, either through direct harm, or because it stunts personal and societal growth. There's a lot of harm involved with raising a child to not think objectively, to use feelings as fact, or to obey authority regardless of what's morally right, however, none of those things are illegal. Also, there are areas where religious law is civil law. This makes it illegal for others to "choose" to hold their own beliefs.

I don’t think a person has a “right to believe” whatever they want.  I think the truth matters.  Independent and skeptical inquiry matter.  This is especially true where Religion is concerned, because Religions make such rigid claims to the Truth —they should be held accountable to their claims.   


"Either something is true or it isnt.  If it is true, you should believe it.  If it isnt true, you should not.  If you are not sure of the truth, you should suspend judgment." Bernard Shaw

I'm game, even if this an old thread.

I read carefully and if I did read it correctly what I gather is that you think if a belief someone has is ridiculous or harmful, it would be wrong of us to respect their belief.

What I think is that knowing how I do not agree with the belief does not mean I am right to judge it. (Even though I disagree with their belief I keep my judgement to myself). Respecting is, in my view, allowing a person to feel that I am ok with them believing what they do. This is the golden rule as I see it, for I would want anyone to accept what I believe with being judgmental toward me.

In other words I accept that people will believe ridiculous and strange things; it is human nature. It is my nature to believe in the precepts I have learned in science and to reject those myths that organized religion keeps alive. Yet, I also know I have beliefs that others find to be ridiculous. I could never be the monk in the cave that others go to for wisdom.

But in this case, are you possibly interchanging "respect for the person" with "respect for the belief"?

We can certainly treat each other with dignity and respect and not respect the belief. (harmful beliefs come to mind for example).

Using the same Golden Rule analogy, I tend to hope people challenge my beliefs. I want to understand if I am wrong, though honestly it stings a little sometimes. I feel we are all better for it when we gain a better understanding of the world and ourselves.

I find that I take the Richard Dawkins approach to this subject. And that is that I think religion is used to an unwarranted amount of "respect" that it doesn't deserve. I think this goes for peoples personal beliefs as well. There is an unwarranted amount of respect expected by the religious for their beliefs that I don't see as having earned it. Just because someone is Catholic or Jewish or Mormon doesn't mean I have to respect their beliefs. I can be respectful of the fact that they are a human being and have rights. But to me the idea of respecting someone else's beliefs that I don't share or agree with is unnecessary politeness that religions haven't earned. 

Agreed...but what other option do they have that to fight against questioning? If religions were open to questioning and analyzing their core beliefs--they are admitting they don't already have all the answers.


I think you make a good point. I try really hard to respect other people's beliefs and I want a world of diversity. It does get very tricky when another person's beliefs trample on your own rights.  When the other person's beliefs start infringing on my rights and beliefs I start having a problem. 

Sometimes it is hard to figure who is infringing. I support Gay Marriage, but one could argue that since the laws have always been for a hetero-sexual couple to be married, the homo-sexual community is infringing on the rights of the others. That is where it gets tricky. Also, where does the line get drawn. Should polagymist be allowed to get married and so on.  My point being that if we are to live in a world with different beliefs, then on some level we have to accept that there will always be differences. I can respect someones rights to believe something I don't,  but not respect the things they believe in. 


I think we have a distinction; it may help to divide this thread into different types.

One type is the respect we show toward a person; respecting they have a belief system different than ours and we do not want to trample on theirs.

Another distinction goes toward beliefs that go against society laws or social mores. It is a slippery slope; when do we show a blind eye or when do we chose to intervene? The FLDS raid, for example, was that slippery slope. Where it tramples on their beliefs, it is normal for them to be offended. However, it goes against more than laws, but general societal mores, that the leaders had relations with minors. In that example, I think most of us would agree, the law should prosecute those individuals.

I just wanted to throw a few more tidbits in to chew on.


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