Respecting Belief


The criticism I hear most from believers, as an atheist, is that I do not respect their belief.  I often look quizzically when I hear that because I have never thought it incumbent on anyone to respect someone else’s belief, blindly. Respect, at least to me, is something earned, and for me, it’s something I apply to individuals, not beliefs.

I often comeback and ask if I should automatically support anyone’s belief on anything? Of course the answer I receive is no, but for some reason, in the case of religious belief,   that answer is supposed to be yes.

What if I don’t respect the person? Should I still respect the belief? I would find that wholly questionable in that I may find a person unethical or immoral  in my mind, yet still find a place of respect for their religious belief. No, of course not.

Should we respect a belief, any belief, that actively discriminates against people based on their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation? Would anyone respect a belief that advocates, and actually perpetuates violence against the same? I’m sure that there are those that might affirm both of those but the rest of us should shun that behavior.

Where would it end? There are those that believe it’s perfectly reasonable for adults to have sex with children. I don’t know of anyone that would respect any belief that advocates child abuse.

There are also those religious believers, believing in the same god, that commit acts of violence against each other based on how each other applies the same holy text. For decades in Ireland in the last century,  it was Catholic against Protestant. Jews have ben discriminated against and persecuted for centuries based on nothing more than a few passages in the Christian text. Today, in the Middle East, we witness Sunni versus Shiite, which has been ongoing for some 1400 years.

Over the history of humankind, millions have been murdered based on their belief – or non-belief. We have a very sordid past that continues today and it’s based on, to a great degree, religious belief.

None of us has to show respect for any belief, religious or not, that we find incompatible with our own values, and we shouldn’t. 

2 thoughts on “Respecting Belief

  1. I can’t listen to the wailing of the beleivers anymore. They are deluded, they have been scammed, and they pray for the end of humanity. It isn’t their fault. It’s their ancestors, and the scam goes on. It’s maybe not polite to laugh, but the stories? How can one not laugh? What I now see are billions of magical thinkers whose dream is to die and go to heaven. They believe they are special, and God cares especially for them. They are delusional.
    I’m from Mormon country. I have a Mormon relative who believes he will someday be a God and have spirit children of His own. I know crazy.


  2. No, there is no reason to “respect the belief” of another person, especially if you don’t even respect the person. But…there are those pesky manners for public behavior and private, too, that help grease the wheel of society and allows us all to get along. So, you can gauge the degree of respect according to the circumstance and the person, if you choose to behave mannerly.

    Don’t tell your great-grandmother that she is a fool to believe that she is going to a “better place” when she dies. Don’t make an ass of yourself by continuing to blab on your cellphone during a prayer or grace held by a group you are part of.

    Christians don’t respect the deity belief of most other religious people, nor respect their rituals and most often consider them to be deluded by Satan. There is no need to respect their belief, but you can respect the notion that their faith helps them get though the trials of daily life, without betraying your atheistic feelings. Whatever it takes, right?

    And…you don’t have to teach your kids about any deity beliefs or the religions that support them. So, if some believer suggests that atheists should do that, just tell them that it goes against everything that YOU believe and they should respect that.


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