How Christians Are Using “Respect” To Win The Argument Against Atheism (In 6 Steps)

This amazing article about respect is well worth the read.

I find a paragraph near the end a particularly useful reminder:

A powerful counter to this would be for the nonbelievers to begin defining respect themselves. In changing the culture, it may be a good idea to respect individuals, but not the beliefs. In other words, it may be a good idea to think about the kind of relationship you would want with the person if they came over to your position, and try not to mess that up. Therefore, it may be within your bounds to call a position stupid or ridiculous if that is the truth, because the person could come over to your side of thinking and you could be friends – the problem was the belief, not the person. But if you call the PERSON stupid or ridiculous as if it is an unimpeachable quality, then, even if you convince the person, the relationship is going to be strained because the person will still think you think they are stupid and ridiculous as a basic feature of their personality.

I often struggle with the line between respecting a person and a belief. Is it disrespectful of me, or of my lack of Christianity, for someone to send me an extremely religious Christmas card? I think that is disrespectful of me, because I am not a Christian. Is it disrespectful of me, or of my lack of Christianity, for someone to say, “Materialism is complete nonsense. I don’t see how any reasonable person could accept it, even though I know they do”? I think that is disrespectful of a belief, and I think that is completely fair.

On the other hand, is it disrespectful of a Christian, or their Christianity, to give them a book by Christopher Hitchens for Christmas, knowing they have no interest in reading it? I think that is disrespectful of the person. Is it disrespectful of a Christian, or their Christianity, to say, “No loving god would allow child rape”? I think that is disrespectful of the belief, and I think that is completely fair.

The point is, it’s difficult to know what is and isn’t respectful of a person versus their belief. Beliefs don’t deserve respect, especially beliefs that can be shown to have caused harm over and over and over.


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