7/27/2010 | Share this article:By Simplex Munditiis --
Respect - noun; esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: e.g. 'I have great respect for her judgement.'
Image by grantlairdjr via FlickrThere is a great deal of talk nowadays about 'respecting' this and 'respecting' that. We are told that we must 'respect' religion, even when we disagree with it. But why? Why must we respect something that is built upon dividing the human race into 'believers' and 'non-believers'? Why must we respect something that is so flawed at its core that it has caused some of the greatest conflicts in history?
I find we are constantly told that we must respect a person's beliefs; but a Marxist believes in communism, and I hardly need say how those beliefs are so often attacked, just as a Anarchists believes in anarchy, and that belief is also repeatedly picked apart, just as they themselves pick other beliefs and institutions, capitalism and government. Why should I be forced to respect religion, Christianity especially here in the West, when it doesn't respect me?
Some time ago, an Australian bishop, Catholic I think, called atheism a scourge, and said that the Second World War had been caused by it, that Stalin had mass-murdered his people because he was atheist, and that Kim-Jong Il and Mao Zedong are fine examples of the dangers of atheism. Ridiculous. Firstly Hitler's religion is a source of debate, and secondly (and most importantly) to say that these people did what they did because they were atheist is like saying that Stalin caused the famines in Russia because he was Russian. Atheism played no part in their iron-fisted rule (outside of when they directly attacked religion) they were motivated by the need to consolidate their rule, that they were atheist has little to do with it; arguably it could've been worse if they had been religious extremists. On the other hand, we have wars that were empirically proved to have been started, or justified, by religion, the Crusades being a prime example, the French Wars of Religion being another.
And why should I respect a religion that tries to enforce its flawed moral code onto me, and limit my freedom because they are, in their own words, 'worried about my soul'. I do not believe in their religion, so I should not have to pay taxes to fund religious institutes, nor should I be forced to swear oaths to God or have my children taught Creationism in school.
Lets imagine for a moment, that Christianity was the minority in society, and the majority of the population worshipped Santa as the great gift-giving god who annually on December 25th gives gifts to those good 'Santa-ists'(and if you got no gifts, then obviously you sinned). Now let's say these Santa-ists had support in government, and passed a law banning gift-giving on Christmas (Santa Day for Santa-ists) because they fear for everyone's souls since presuming to take Santa's place by giving gifts is a blasphemous sin. Not only that, but let's say with a wave of support they ban gift-giving altogether, to ensure that no one can 'play Santa' so to speak. I would now like to ask any Christian (and I know there are many that lurk this site) to think about how they'd feel. They don't believe in Santa, so why should they be banned from giving gifts just because the majority of Santa-ists are 'worried about their souls'? It is the same for Christians, why should they be allowed to force their beliefs onto people who don't believe? I would not presume to force people
So why? Why should religion (and I'm thinking especially of Christianity here) automatically be 'respected' when it won't respect others? Hell, most religions can't even respect other branches of their same religion, many Protestants hate Catholics, many Sunni hates Shiites. Just as Marxism is a belief (an economic belief but a belief nonetheless) that doesn't deserve automatic respect, but should deserve the respect that comes from careful analysis, so should Christianity, I respect what I have studied and approved of, not what I'm told I must simply because much of a supposedly secular government belongs to a certain religion.