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.