Can someone explain why I have to respect a mental illness that wants me to join it?

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"Lets take a moment and pray at this tragedy!"

Why? What is the point? There is no one who will hear you except you and those in your immediate vicinity within earshot. There is no one listening, no one hearing, no one answering! 

Unfold your hands, get up off your knees, look around to see what is happening on the Earth, pick a problem or conflict, any that peaks your interest, and get busy thinking and doing something. 

That’s one thing that always drives me nuts about religion; science helps to push the threshold of understanding in the world and when science discovers a new principal that leads to some better form of communication religion will use it as a platform for telling the rest of the world how it shouldn’t believe in science.

I agree Joan - if you want a better world you need to make it better yourself.

Well put Patricia!! Exactly!

The good news is, you don't have to respect any religion.

Religion is a mental disease, as infectious as any Infectious diseases caused by pathogenic microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi; the diseases can be spread, directly or indirectly, from one person to another. 

""You’ve gotta respect everyone’s beliefs." No, you don’t. That’s what gets us in trouble. Look, you have to acknowledge everyone’s beliefs, and then you have to reserve the right to go: "That is fucking stupid. Are you kidding me?" I acknowledge that you believe that, that’s great, but I’m not going to respect it. I have an uncle that believes he saw Sasquatch. We do not believe him, nor do we respect him!"

Patton Oswalt, on people’s beliefs

The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by persons who should know better? Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame. H.L. Mencken (Baltimore Evening Sun, 1925).

You don't have to respect religion, of course.  There are, however, some rational reasons for respect that do not necessitate admiring religion.  One is the power of religion.  It influences, and sometimes dictates, public laws, who wants to marry you, your tax deductions (clergy get special laws) and who pays taxes.  Another is the quantity of believers.  Anything that commands the belief of most of humanity merits respect due to its prevalence and interrelatedness with human culture.  Most of the people we meet are religious.  Some nominally and some with full fanaticism.  The fanatics sometimes eliminate those who disagree with them.

Then, too, religion may not be a mental illness for all believers.  Perhaps it serves a social function for humanity even though it is not apparent to all.  People have also believed in goblins, werewolves, fairies, trolls, tree nymphs and thousands more self-created imaginary beings.  All those beliefs appear to have left most believers still able to function acceptably.  Whatever my disagreement with the beliefs held by the people I observe, we remain part of the common human population.  I may not respect religion, but I respect many people who are religious.

Oh! I think they have a right to try to influence you to their way of thinking. It is your responsibility to respond back with honest, well thought out rebuttal. The issue is not to make converts, it is to have a voice in the face of opposition from others. If you have thought out the issues, can deliver them with conviction and competence, what is the worse that can happen? You may alienate a friend or family members. 

You can squelch your own ideas; 

or, agree with them and feel powerless; 

Or, you can self-identify as not agreeing and let the chips fall. 

I concur that religion is not harmless.  The  religious wars throughout history demonstrate that religious disputes can bring death.

No you don't!

Irrationality deserves no respect.  It is corrosive and dangerous and deserving of opposition.  People may earn respect, but that respect is by no means automatic.  In my case and many others, said respect is contingent on reflexive respect for me and my right to hold the positions that I do.

I understand that there are consequences to subscribing to atheism in an environment such as that currently present in the United States.  Believers should understand that there are also consequences for irrational belief when that irrationality has the deleterious impact that it clearly does.  Mostly, they don't see that impact because they choose not to look for it or at it.  A substantial part of our job is to point it out to them, provide a wake-up call, and let them know there is more than one opinion present.

A worthy or progressive idea may deserve respect.  Irrationality is neither and deserves none.

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