Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H

Respecting not just the right of persons to hold a belief but respect the belief

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is clear that it is individual people that have rights.  Beliefs and political or religious organisations do not.  The person needs protection so why would you protect gatherings of people?  To do that is to spend time on religion or whatever that should be spent on the person.  All mistakes with justice end up hurting the wrong person and this is no exception. 

Not all that acts as faith or belief really is


Respecting religion is not a simple matter for not everything that looks like religion or faith really is.  Don't let ideology driven people and ignorant people silence you over respect for faith or belief when they are not there!


Take faith.  Faith is a trust in a person and involves belief but it is not exactly the same as belief.  Belief is an arid impersonal thing while faith is more like loyalty.  Do not make the mistake of thinking a person's belief is the same as their faith.  If belief should be respected then faith should be respected more. 


Do not mistake belief for faith or faith for belief.

It is not faith/belief when somebody only goes along with a religion for they think lots of others in their community do.


It is not faith/belief when somebody goes through the motions.

It is not faith/belief when somebody feels they have to play a role for the religion seems too big and powerful in their society.  That is fear and nothing else.


It is not faith/belief when somebody has not got the chance to think about an alternative view properly.  A real religion of faith/belief will tell you why you should leave it and why you should stay and welcome either choice equally.


It is not faith/belief when the person is conditioned by religious people from childhood.  Even when we are older we can see that our thinking is being processed and conditioned and find it hard to overcome and resist.  Being programmed to think that x is probably true is only making you think you recognise that x is likely to be true.  Being programmed to smell smoke is being programmed to smell smoke that is not there.  You are sensing a belief in you that is not in fact there.

It is not faith/belief when it is not in accord with reality: eg somebody who thinks faith will make their life easier – Christianity to be fair teaches the opposite should be more likely.  Mormons say that feeling Mormonism is true proves it is true but they deny that feeling Hinduism is true proves it is true!  That cherry-picking is too brazen to be sincere.  Catholics do not really act as if they believe a blob of cells in the womb is a person deserving the same legal protection as an adult would get.  They do not really treat the communion wafer as a living and breathing Jesus.  While a faith can divert from reality through bad information and being confused, there are many issues that cannot be put down to these things.  Just to state what some religious doctrines are is to refute them!

People are tempted to disrespect faith or belief when they seem to look down on the truth or divide people or hurt them.  Liberals and leftists typically make the problems of faith worse by defending toxic and silly religions.  They like to make the subject of religious abuse and sectarian arrogance sound too fuzzy and complex for puny minds so that they can pretend all is going well. To argue that sectarianism between two religions is caused by people over-simplifying the issues is fine as long as that is what the evidence says. But to say it is always down to simplistic thinking is ignoring the fact that something simple can be considered enough by one religion to be sectarian towards the next one and then the latter will respond in kind with abuse and hate.


A quote


“A failure to confront is a failure to love.” —Scott Peck - Good quote though I'd prefer "A failure to challenge is a failure to love". Confrontation can always be avoided and challenging does not create enemies.  Disagreement is not intolerance but it is if you and the opponent both are depending on faith alone.  Thus a Mormon and a Catholic arguing about religion is sectarian for both religions are as false and manmade as each other.


Me being irrational is trying to stop the other trying to reason with me and asks them to damage their character. Anybody who meets me is at risk of me rubbing off on them.  For that reason, the religious person who will not reason about religion or examine it is being an irrational bigot. 


People talk about the meaning of life.  By that phrase you would expect to mean being fully alive and feeling fully alive. As reason is a part of you and of life then reason has a role to play in allowing you to have meaning and giving you meaning.  Without reason even a God is no good!  If we were more rational and careful our lives would grow.


The reason people feel the temptation to harass others for having different beliefs from them is that who ever says their belief is true is saying any belief that contradicts it is untrue.  It is typically religious and political believers who get angry at the beliefs of others that they do not share.


Saying somebody is convinced about their belief being true is a way of arguing that their position should be considered. That may not be the intention but it is obvious that a belief held deeply and in a very convinced way may have something to it.  That is why if a belief that is too far-fetched or dangerous or held too strongly it needs to be challenged.

It is usually religious people who protest that you are not respecting their beliefs when you mock them or even when you merely say you find them implausible. That no other grouping carries on like that is a warning bell and shows that religion is not as much about humility, justice and truth as it pretends. Respect in the eyes of religion, does not mean real respect. It means applauding their beliefs even if you disagree with them and keeping silent instead of challenging the beliefs.


The religious do not ask respect for themselves but their beliefs. They degrade themselves in doing so and degrade you. Asking for respect as a person means you do not regard your beliefs as that which should never be challenged but you welcome the challenge.


Today's religionist who refuses to co-operate in a test of the credibility of their beliefs, is tomorrow's religious terrorist. That is how it starts.


Many religions say terrible things about people of other religions and none. Some say they deserve to be persecuted. Some say they deserve to go to Hell for all eternity to be punished. Some religions say terrible things about their own people too! For example, if hypothetically a Catholic mother needed an early abortion to save her life so that she can raise her ten children the Church forbids it. A religious doctrine is put before the woman. We are told to love God alone and to love others for his sake meaning they are not important in themselves but important because he made them and to offend what he makes is to offend him. Do you really have the right to say that if there is a choice between treating God as a means and not as an end and a person as a means and not as an end you should choose God? That is sick for you cannot prove God the way you can prove the flesh and blood person beside you. It is no wonder believers think of people not as ends in themselves but as a means to serving God who is the end. A baby is accused of needing forgiveness from sin in baptism. The human race is accused of being capable of being bad enough to choose an eternal Hell of torture just for spite. The list is endless.
Those bullies still demand that their beliefs be respected and that those who don't hold to those beliefs must find them adorable.


In fact the beliefs do not even respect the holders of those beliefs and degrade them. For example, if you believe God is right to allow so much evil to happen the problem is that even if he would be it does not mean there really is a God. You are still worshipping something that harms people. To worship a God who does not exist is still to worship something - maybe nature or your imagination. You are still condoning the evil happening when it should not happen. To respect those beliefs is to disrespect those who hold them. It is to encourage them to believe what disrespects your beliefs. Also many of the beliefs of religion disrespect who you are. They disrespect you as a person all the way down to the core.


Too often, respect for the beliefs of others amounts to cherry-picking what beliefs you are going to respect. You do not respect the belief of a person who believes you should give him a job in your company because God says so even though he is not the right person for the job. You are also assuming that the person cannot stand you challenging their faith in God when in fact they might be open to the challenge. People who are devoted to religion could still be hoping to find out that it is rubbish so that they might be free. Too often respecting belief is treating one belief as good as another and that only insults people's faith and beliefs. If you regard something as probably true you cannot honestly say that this belief is as good as that of the person who believes the complete opposite. Also, you have to be yourself. You cannot be expected to encourage an error tacitly for that implies hypocrisy and disrespect for your own beliefs or for the truth. Too often respect for the beliefs of others amounts to insinuating that freedom of speech is bad and that a belief should be immune to criticism.


You go to a party and the host boasts about how great his layabout useless son is. He asks you to raise your glass. You might think respect his belief by raising your glass to the son. This is not real respect for the man's belief but simulated. It is phoney respect. Many advocate similar "respect" for religion. It leads only to ridicule and opposition to religion especially in political matters in the long run.


People who have any wisdom know that we need to give people what they need to hear not what they want to hear. But what if we do this and we are accused of being vile creatures who have disrespected the beliefs of people by not telling them what they want to hear?


Society might say it believes in respecting the beliefs of others. What it really means is respecting the believers by refusing to mock them or forcing them to listen to criticism of the beliefs. This is respecting the person not the beliefs. And those who talk about respecting beliefs always qualify this by saying they mean the deeply held and important beliefs that others have. Nobody really thinks that beliefs must be unchallenged. It is just that some think only the deeply held and most sacred beliefs of others should be left alone. A belief that is really sacred to you and deeply held will lead you to disrespect a person's belief when they contradict it. For example, the Catholic who is devoted to the notion that same-sex marriage is nonsense will have to try and stop those who disagree. The dangerous thing about respecting the most sacred and deeply ingrained beliefs is that it often means you are enabling the believers to force their beliefs on others. You become a hypocrite who assists others to disrespect the beliefs of those who differ from them while you claim to stand for the notion that belief must be respected. True respect for principles and belief and others means politely and compassionately encouraging them to rethink their beliefs.


The United Nations defines tolerance as the acceptance that others do not have the same beliefs as you and the decision to respect them while you stand up for what you believe or know to be right. Tolerance then in its true form means it is only honest and open to say what you disagree with. Yet some see any disagreement with them as intolerance and try to have you silenced on the grounds that you offended them! It is those who tell you not to disagree or state your disagreement who are intolerant. They are the most offensive not you. Criticism when intended to serve the truth and better yourself and others is tough love not intolerance. Tolerance involves making it possible and easier for people to think things out for themselves so challenging existing beliefs and religions and dogmas is necessary. If people disagree and debate they have the best chance of working out the truth for themselves. This is good when competing beliefs are not fully right or fully wrong. They share the truth between them.


The penultimate hypocrite, Tony Blair said, "I have my own [Catholic] belief, I can still respect, not just the right of the other person to hold [a] different belief, but also respect that belief."

Respecting the right of the person to differ is enough. We should all be mature enough to agree to differ. But to go as far as to say that a belief even if evil or stupid should be respected and celebrated is ridiculous. You can respect the right of a person to hold a belief but that does not require you to respect the belief by encouraging it and refusing to politely challenge it. In fact, to do that is not to respect the person at all. It is to be fake.


And if Blair celebrates Islamic opposition to the worship of the communion wafer Blair prays to he is contradicting his Catholic faith.


Respecting belief is a buzz thing today and the do-gooders love it. But it necessarily implies disrespect for persons. Here is how. If you respect a person's belief that is not the same as respecting the person. The person is not their belief. You must respect the person by refusing to laugh at or ridicule their belief. You should not feel right if a person says they are respecting your belief - what about you? I do not want people to respect my hair just because it is hair. It is because they are not disrespecting my hair but using it to disrespect me. Things such as beliefs are not respected for their own sake but for the sake of people. It is really the people who are respected. If belief should be respected then belief is sacred no matter how stupid or bad it is.


Would Blair hold that a person has the right to reject God so we should not encourage anybody to accept God into their lives? No. He does not really believe that belief should be automatically respected. Nobody does.


Suppose we should respect beliefs. Then are we to respect religious beliefs above other beliefs? Do religious beliefs deserve better respect than other beliefs no matter how precious they are? That implies that a religious belief system comes before people. Its bigotry. Or is it a case of us knowing that religion easily erupts into hatred and bloodletting and so we are afraid of it?


If we should respect beliefs then some interesting things are implied.


We should respect assumptions.


We should respect weak beliefs.


We should respect strong beliefs.


We should respect knowledge and certainty.


Obviously, we could apply a grading system here. Assumptions would be entitled to less respect than weak beliefs. What you know would deserve the most respect.


God supposedly has told the Church what he knows. The Church claims that the faith it teaches is divine knowledge. From that it follows that a religion claiming to have the truth simply has to demand that it gets respect to a degree not afforded to any other religion.


An opinion means something you assume or believe a little until you get further light - to say something is your opinion is to invite somebody to challenge you. So that is why respecting opinion is left out - it usually means that you don't challenge or contradict anybody's opinion.

Nobody seriously thinks we should respect assumptions and the barely-there beliefs of others.


But it is implied by the notion of respecting belief. Life cannot function if respecting belief is taken seriously.


To have your own belief that differs from that of others suggests you are in some way against what they believe. To accept a belief is to automatically reject beliefs that do not agree with it. The notion of respecting beliefs that differ is ludicrous and hypocritical. Its impossible.


Religion is based on the notion that some book or person or whatever is an authority on what should be believed in religion. Even Theosophy which says it does not teach any doctrine is teaching the doctrine that doctrine is unimportant! It teaches that doctrine and claims to be a religious authority in teaching it. This authority is obeyed by the theosophist. The liberal religionist actually treats his faith as authority in some things. What about the things he ignores his religion in? Then he is still following an authority be it society's fashionable opinions or the secular and liberal state. He is simply disloyal to his religion. You can't say its your authority and then obey authorities that contradict it. If that is not hypocritical then nothing is.


We can respect the people who have wrong beliefs and be sensitive with them but we cannot respect the beliefs for we oppose them and want them destroyed. We seek to destroy them not by antagonising or upsetting anybody unnecessarily but with understanding and patience and good-will. We politely challenge their beliefs with questions and they will doubt. They cannot expect us not to work against their beliefs for that is denying us the right to be people of integrity and we cannot expect them to not work against ours. They should if they think they should.


Never argue. Talk and discuss and do it nicely even under the worst provocation. Atheism is love and only being happy and spreading that happiness to others can spread Atheism.   


The notion that you must respect the beliefs of others regardless of how wrong and dangerous they are, is really based on the following. "There are good people in every camp. It is disrespectful to them mention faults in the philosophy or religion no matter how kindly you do it."


It is never right to judge a religion true or good or to be given an exemption from critical evaluation just because there are good people in it. That has nothing to do with it and if they are good people they will still be good if their specific form of religious faith is taken away. In fact, if you say something that destroys their faith, all you have done is bring them to a place where they can prove and perfect their goodness. Be proud. Truly good people welcome the challenge. If we don't have the courage to trust them enough to challenge their faith then we don't really think they are good people. We think they are bigoted and fearful and therefore dangerous.


If a religion gets the message that it will never be criticised or challenged or debated just because it has good people in it, it will soon prove dangerous and arrogant. Nothing deserves that amount of protection and special treatment. That kind of attitude in society led to many in the Catholic priesthood and religious life abusing children sexually and otherwise with impunity. Nobody dared speak out.


The suggestion that we should not try to refute a religion's doctrines for there are many good people in the religion is a strange one. Even Communism has good people in it. Yet we will reject its tenets. We will urge that people take the freedom to criticise it. Suppose a religion is blatantly evil. What about the people in it who we class as bad who are merely misguided but mean well? Should we keep silent for their sake? Certainly not! The Christian Bible is full of criticism of religious practices that were not approved of. An angel criticised John's wish to give him worship. Jesus criticised the Jews a lot. And he criticised their religion. If a religion can give criticism it has to be ready to take it too.


If there are good people in the Church, they will be still good people if the Church collapses. If they cease to be good without the Church then they were not really good in the first place. The affect of attacks on the correctness of Catholic belief and the collapse of the Church should not affect the goodness of the members. The teaching of the Church that the Church is holy unfortunately denies this.


Religion conditions people to believe when they are children or when they are vulnerable. If you respect their faith, in fact is is really their conditioning you are respecting. Conditioning is a form of mind programming that makes you think you believe but it cannot help you to truly believe.


Conditioning is a form of violence and is easily perceived by outsiders to the religion as violence.
Believers usually claim that God and religion are huge matters but they are idiots - well idiots up to a point anyway. They are idiots for they have not thought about these things enough. They are not afforded the serious attention they deserve and the thinking caps are left down too often.


The modern insistence on respecting religious belief is really religion trying to create a culture where it avoids getting criticised or debunked by scholarship. The person for example who shows that religion is lying about its powers and benefits is considered to be a sociopath.


Respecting belief is really about promoting not tolerance but skin-deep tolerance.


It is nearly always criticism of religious beliefs that people try to censor. Why do they? They will say that religious beliefs are somehow sacred, that criticising them causes bigoted stereotyping and may even cause some of the offended to resort to violent retaliation. It sounds like that the censors are talking about themselves. They are afraid there is too much truth to any stereotype they will get and they wish they could destroy anybody who condemns or mocks their religion. Censorship is an advertisement for a religion but not for religious benevolence.


If people want you to respect their beliefs and opinions, they must do nothing to censor you - if they really respect belief and opinion, they will respect your opinion and belief that you should gently and kindly guide them into the light. In fact censorship does not lead to any belief being respected, it only leads to fake respect that is just a cover for resentment.

respecting beliefs
Some people say we must have our beliefs and let nobody else change them. Nobody else can change them. Only we can do that. Even if we are brainwashed at some point we let it happen to us. Their saying is really the notorious,” I have a right to my opinion.” That is actually a discussion-stopper. It’s intolerant of future discussion and therefore rude. Avoid it. Sincerely say, “Thank you for what you said. I will think about it.”
Some say that they do not accept your beliefs or opinions but respect them.
Can you really respect what you consider to be wrong? You don't respect the beliefs of Jack the Ripper that it is a good work to kill prostitutes.
Some amend the claim to say that they respect beliefs and opinions contrary to their own but only if the beliefs and opinions do not interfere with the rights of others.
Respecting or celebrating one's right to a belief or opinion is not the same as respecting the belief or opinion itself. Thus I will have the right to scorn and disrespect your beliefs and opinions if I think they are ridiculous or dangerous. But I will still stand for your right to accept them.
It is said that I can stand up for a person's right to believe in racism but I will ridicule their belief and I will stop them exercising or carrying out that belief in a practical sense. For example, if they start putting up "Blacks out" posters. But if it is fair to stand up for people being wrong then why not encourage them to be wrong? The proper view is, "Nobody has the right to believe in racism. But apart from talking to them, it makes no sense to try and stop them being racist. We tolerate their beliefs for we cannot stop them having them." Why give somebody a right or permission to think what they like? Whether you do or don't will make no difference. Giving permission to believe in racism is against your own right to refuse to have anything to do with racism. Giving permission says something about you.
A belief can only be respected if the evidence and proofs for it are very good or sufficient. The opinion supported by the best assessment of evidence is the opinion that deserves the most respect.
The person who says they respect a belief they do not respect at all is being a hypocrite and acting ignobly. Far better to admit they do not respect it and guard each person’s right to a belief they disrespect.
Though we might say that people have the right to ask you to believe something we mean this loosely. Strictly speaking, nobody has the right to ask you to believe anything. What they have is the right to empower you to help yourself to believe.


Respecting a person's religious belief or religion raises the question, "Do they really have religious belief?"  Debate and integrity are vital but the problem with people of faith is that often they mistake the brainwashing they got as children and force of habit for faith. I think there are less people of faith in religion and among its leadership that you would realise. If faith is good then what passes largely for faith certainly is not. Real believers would see God as a God of evidence and respect evidence so much that if it led them to atheism or another religion they would comply. Belief should not be equated with closed mindedness.  Religion concentrates so much on indoctrinating children that it seems that this is not really about instilling faith but making the children think they have faith and to keep them trapped for life. 




Truth is not about us. We all have to try and line up to the truth and have the guts to face it if we do not like it. People protecting us from the truth is patronising and lazy for they should be offering support as we face it.  And surely they wonder what others are hiding from them!  Respect belief by challenging it but respect truth more.  If you do not respect truth you cannot truly respect belief either.


Belief is relative to alternatives. That is to say that to accept x is to challenge anything that contradicts x or seems to contradict x.  That is why people hate being disagreed with.  That is when respect becomes difficult.

Respect for belief is good but only if you know your guidelines.

If it is of supreme importance to respect religion then that entitles you or commands you to NOT respect what looks like religion or faith but which is not. In fact, it would demand you challenge somebody who seems to be using a religious figure for their own ends (eg politicans like Donald Trump) or who uses a faith to change society’s opinion (eg an LGBT activist who is always at Mass).

Do not attack the person but challenge the belief. To encourage the person to rethink the belief is not attacking the person at all. The person is not the belief. They may however be insulted at you attacking the object of the belief. If the object is God or Jesus or Muhammad there is going to be a problem.  Suggest that these entities would not want you to be believing errors about them.

Identify differences between what you know and believe and what the person beliefs. Compare.

Be aware that there are three forms disagreement can take

---There can be a disagreement or contradiction over matters of fact. Did it rain this morning or not? One says one thing and the other says another.

---There can be disagreement over belief with regard to what the evidence actually indicates.

---There can be disagreement over values and matters of taste. Not all values are simply a matter of taste.

Do not mix up belief and action. A man may believe God calls him to have ten wives but that does not mean you go and help him to get them.  Respect for belief and refusing to respect the consequences of a belief are two separate issues.


Those who want their beliefs respected are really seeking to get the consequences protected.




Love the sinner and hate the sin is the core of what Christianity is about for its ideas about God make no sense without it.  It says we sin which means God hates us if loving sinners is impossible.  That would refute creation by God for God would not create beings to hate out of nothing.  So love the sinner and hate the sin is not a doctrine but a colossus.  That is why no doctrine gives us more right in principle to criticise religion.  If you can love the sinner and hate the sin or respect the sinner and disrespect the sin then I can love/respect the believer and hate/disrespect the belief. So I should be allowed to.  Try something different.  If you preach love the sinner and hate the sin or respect the sinner and disrespect the sin then let me preach that I can love/respect the believer and hate/disrespect the belief.  A believer has no right at all to shut up an atheist critic or a sceptic or to condemn them for criticism.



Ridiculous ideas mock themselves.  Humour and jokes can convey that best.  Wanton mockery is not the best way and the objective is to bring light to society.  Try this approach, "I am not interested in what you believe but in how and why you believe it."