How do ya'll feel about respect for religion? I often hear people say to others "I respect your religion, but..." And, of course, our elected officials are frequently claiming to respect other religions. I find that very hard to believe. I certainly respect one's right to choose, but I have no respect for any religion of which I have the least bit of knowledge. I'm bringing this up here because of our ages. I'm 45, and in my formative years, "disrespect" of any kind was synonymous with "bad". While I have never believed in a god, it took me a long time to "feel alright" about my disrespect for religion. I'm just curious if ya'll are familiar with that experience. "Respect" and "disrespect" have taken on so many different nuances today.

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As I was reading your post I was thinking. No, no, no. I have no respect for religion. I respect others right to believe what they want, but I don't have to respect ideas that I think are foolish.

We also grew up in a time when speaking your mind was usually considered disrespectful. You were supposed to do what you were told, be seen and not heard and call all your elders by their last name. Every individual deserves basic respect (or more appropriately common courtesy), but I certainly don't have to respect people because they are part of some group that is somehow untouchable, particularly when that group doesn't show me a modicum of respect.
Honestly, if you went to the middle of South America, or some other place where people have never seen otherwise, you'd respect their beliefs. And a lot of Christians are very isolated in their upbringings, and raised to believe that people like us are just Satan's tools.
I just try to set a good example of what a human should behave like no matter what kind of person I encounter; sometimes I just can't help but have a laugh at some fanatical Jesus freak, but most reasonable Christians will respect you even if they can't really feel close to you personally.
I have a great deal of respect for human emotions. Allied with belief emotions have an enormous power to motivate. It doesn't matter to me what the emotion is, nor the belief really. What matters is the behaviour. But of course how the power of emotion is aimed is largely a consequence of belief, that and the social power the believer enjoys within his or her society. So no, I wouldn't go into a crowded room of True Believers of any ilk and diss their beliefs. I like being alive. I'm a pragmatist.

My silence doesn't change at all my awareness that a True Believer will do anything at all to maintain his or her picture of reality. I suppose I respect a person's right to choose beliefs in an unlimited sense. I mean who cares if somebody believes in the everlasting life of the Green Giant. But I don't think (or respect, if you like) that believer's "right" to act anyway he or she chooses based on that belief. I mean does it give a Giant True Believer the right to paint the White House green? Nope. That's what laws are for, to moderate social behaviour because beliefs alone cannot do that for us. This seems so obvious to me that I still find it hard to understand how someone can claim that the belief in a god is necessary to ethical behaviour. If that were so why did the Dissenters (as an example) need secular laws at all?
It's funny - I've not been here too much lately - getting my little rapscallion into school (he starts tomorrow), but in my discussion opener, I mentioned elected officials claiming to respect other religions. I just learned today (upon log-in - well, I never really officially log off) that Leah Daughtry, the chairman of the Democratic National Convention, is going to kick off the ceremonies with an Interfaith Gathering, where they will ask for god's blessing. Not that this is really relevant to this discussion, but in some small way it is, for she claims a special preference for christians. In addition, she is "considering" allowing an atheist to represent in the gathering (though she can't understand why they would want to). I just find it odd that the Democratic party would risk this kind of disrespect (on so many different levels).
I love these comments, by the way. And, Cowpunk62, I can certainly respect (in terms of knowledge) how any belief system comes into being - I just can't respect the belief itself. In so many cultures the belief system is based on the cycles of nature/our galaxy/their history. I think that many of the people of these cultures, with the knowledge that they've not had access to, would choose not to attach a higher power to their belief system - they might rather choose to respect science. And if they haven't been touched by missionaries of any kind, they might actually be able to think for themselves and make their own choices.
This is an issue with which I struggle. I have no problem attacking religion in general and Christianity in particular at a macro level. Nor would I back down from a debate with a Christian who was trying to shove Christianity down my throat. Christians on the internet I pretty well consider fair game. Going on the internet is like entering the Colosseum - don't walk through that gate unless you're prepared to defend your views.

However, on a micro-level, I have friends and family who are devout Christians and, while I don't agree with them, I do understand why they cling to these beliefs.

At lunch a few days ago, a liberal Christian friend was telling me how 'the spirit' spoke through a member of the congregation and told her that 'everything was going to be all right'. She took that a sure sign she would be reconciled with her son. She also said that after praying fervently she began to speak in tongues. Now, what was I to do knowing her sad history? Was I to disrespect her religious beliefs or was I to respect her need to hold on to this fantasy in order to cope with a bitter estrangement from her son?

I compromised and said, "Well, sweetie, you know I don't believe that message came from God, or that speaking in tongues has anything to do with the Holy Spirit, but if it gives you strength, then you believe whatever you want."

I have also struggled with the 'respect' thing with another friend who is an indigenous Australian. After a lively discussion where she agreed with me about what rubbish Christianity was, she asserted that she was a strong believer in the spirits of the Aboriginal dreamtime.

So, what am I to do, over a friendly breakfast? Say, "You Aborigines are all deluded!" ? I know what her heritage means to her. I know how Aboriginal culture was systematically dismantled over 200 years in this country. I have to admire someone who has clung to their own culture rather than being 'won over' by the pressure of the Christian missions which wreaked such havoc on Aborigines and their society. I also know that she has had a terrible past marred by racism and abuse and has found strength from her beliefs.

I came away from that breakfast feeling rather shabby for casting doubt on her beliefs. Again, the question was - do I disrespect the religious delusion, or do I respect the individual?

With my nephew, who is a Pentecostal, I maintain a 'respectful' silence about religion unless he brings it up - and then we discuss it frankly and without rancour. If I notice he is 'not himself', I might venture to ask, "Is everything OK? Are you having problems with your faith?"
And, if the answer is yes, I'll say, "Do you want to talk about it?"
But I won't force my opinions on him. Again, I understand that he has been brought up Pentecostal, married into the church, his social life is entirely tied up with the church and to tear him away from that before he is ready would be indescribably disruptive to him and his family. Therefore, I 'respect' the boundaries imposed on me as an old spinster aunt and interfere only when invited in.

Perhaps I'm a wimp. Perhaps I'm not a good enough atheist. But on a personal level, with people I know and whose histories and psychologies I understand, I just cannot bring myself to go for the jugular.

So, yes, I'm happy to disrespect 'religion' but when it comes to individuals, I find myself on very rocky ground.
So much of this feels so familiar. I do believe and will argue for an individuals right to feel or choose a belief. I will argue for treating everyone with respect to the greatest extent possible. I will never believe that that all beliefs deserve respect. I suppose, on some level, disrespect every belief I do not share. I try to be polite about it if I can. If someone has a lucky sweater, I am not about to start explaining why luck is statistically improbable and their sweater is just warm. Doing so doesn't make me right, it just makes me annoying. However, if i perceive a victim - either personally or culturally - I begin to get hooked. ( Ok so every fictional belief hurts somebody,,, but come on,,, a lucky sweater...) What I am talking about is when someone believes that genders or races or religions should be controlled, changed, or killed - then I get a bit "disrespectful". This disrespect does extend to the individual - to the believer. I am patient with children who have been indoctrinated into screwy systems, but i have no tolerance or acceptance of adults who make these choices. I hold little hope of reaching these people. I figure if they were open to reason and reasoning, they would not hold the beliefs they cling to. For better or worse i put most religious friends in the "lucky sweater" camp. They are primarily cafeteria "Christians" who choose the things they like from church, the things that make them feel good, and ignore the rest of the stuff about smiting us heathens. I don't agree with them, i may think they are a bit nuts, but they are still my friends and family - I can love them, care for them, and even laugh with them. I guess I would call that respect.

There's also the feeling of shame if one is manipulated into validating the mind virus which infects a valued person. We know it's wrong to validate the woo woo, and we're in a social blackmail kind of double bind. To maintain our own authenticity, validating the person's feelings and worth while not validating the religious or supernatural belief, makes us the gorilla. Religions include beliefs that force this situation. It works. These social pressures facilitate religious domination of a local culture.

The only way out, that I know, is to have a lengthy conversation about exactly this double bind with the persons involved, hopefully one on one, and in a separate talk. Otherwise it sounds defensive. One needs a way to communicate validation of the individual and his/her feelings, how much they are worth to you, how much you respect them, but still get across the nuances of the situation. So they realize that you are being pressured to betray yourself by their expectations and reactions, and you know they didn't intend that.

Respect for religion in any way, shape or form is almost impossible for me

religious people have no respect for who I am so I don't bother.

I don't look for conflict but I stand up for myself and I don't sociolize with

with them.
It is not my intention to offend, but I will speak my mind. Belief systems in general are dangerous to society. It doesn't matter if it is Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Humanist. Since I don't know much about the Brights, I can't include them. Long ago, when we didn't have much understanding of our environment, it was understandable to project what we believed on every day living. That today, however, is not the case. Matter of fact religion keeps a large portion of our population ignorant. Today people use religion for a variety of reasons, most are harmful to society as a whole. It has been built into our religiously based culture to protect the ignorance that religion promotes. Let me give a few examples. Do we really need to fear death or is it just the living who fear it for us because they don't want us to leave? Do we need to believe in an afterlife simply because it will make us and our love ones feel better after we are consumed by worms? Is it necessary to use religion as a support when we know that everything has a rational reason, including every misadventure that we experienced during our conscious existence. Do we need to celebrate human life above animal life, when we are all a part of a large ecosystem? If they die, we die. I respect my fellow humans, but I don't necessarily respect what they believe. With this respect, I will not confront them, but I will reserve the right to behave in a way that is inconsistent with their beliefs. Now, this is offensive to the religious. Religious people don't want to be reminded that non theists are just as respectable and just as prosperous as the religious. If that happened, their fantasy about why religion is useful would fade into oblivion and religion would die a quick death. Yes, the solution to all of our problems have been staring us in the face for centuries, but culture with it's "respect" clause has kept us in fear of coming out and letting others know us as atheists. How many atheists are willing to go to a public place with a blatant logo on your clothing, identifying yourself as an atheist? Do I really need to answer that question for you? Yet, we will write books, demonstrate and, generally, show the religious how obnoxious we can be. Yea...we paint a great image of ourselves except the correct one. A few decades ago, the gays were force to expose themselves. Today, they can run for public office. Can an atheist run for public office and win? With all the philosophical and scientific knowledge atheists have, we still just don't get it. Maybe it is just a matter of social evolution, but if we don't remove those ideas that hamper our adjustment to our environment in this fast changing world, we as a species will become extinct and time is running out.
I'd have to go with Kristy on this one. Being contentious with people you love or have been long time friends with over religion is no better than being contentious about their politics. Political views damage the world too but we don't harp on every possible angle another person takes. I was a very evangelical christian and I am a very loud mouthed aetheist given the opportunity. My christian friends have no doubts about my position and they avoid the subject like the plague which I find really amusing. They must sense its an argument they can't win. A believer loses their identity, community, history and all psychological crutches when they lose their faith. That is a big ask of anyone. I never stop putting my little hints and raised eyebrows into a conversation but since I believe that all people hold on to unreasonable things that make them feel secure I let it go mostly. I guess I don't feel that alienating one or two friends will change the status of religion in the world.
I do respect people, not their believings...and I judge them for their actions, not for some "religious statement"; I´d recommend, you see religious people as sort of mentally handicaped in some ways, and treat them with the same "respect" as you would treat otherwise handicaped people...
I wouldn't use to word respect as much as I would use the word tolerate.

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