Disrespecting Christians

The below message was received through the IAmAnAtheist.com comment form.

You speak about being moral, but there is nothing moral about disrespecting someones set of beliefs.

There are so many actual facts supporting Atheism, there is no need to mock Christianity.

I totally disagree with the entirety of Christianity, because I don’t need to believe in God to have faith, but a lot of people have to.

I think as Atheists, we have the freedom to accept everyone for who they are and respect them, and that includes theists.

I can only agree with some of what you say because you do not seem to be drawing a line between disrespecting ideas and disrespecting people. You also do not seem to think that there are people (including Christians) who are not worthy of respect.

Beginning with your opening statement, if by “disrespect” you mean “make fun of,” then I disagree that it is immoral to disrespect a set of beliefs. A set of beliefs has no moral status.

You could make a better argument that it is immoral to disrespect people just because they have a certain set of beliefs. In general, I don’t intentionally make fun of anyone because of their belief system. Rather, on those pages on this site that are intended as humor, I am poking fun at how people believe rather than what they believe. For example, the page about atheist rights and responsibilities is intended to demonstrate that atheists can have almost the same ethical code as theists, even though some theists insist that atheists have no reason to be moral. My page of silly responses to arguments was written in response to theists who use the same bad arguments over and over, even when they have been soundly refuted, and often only because they have heard that the argument works against atheists, not because they truly understand what they are arguing.

I agree that there is no need to mock Christianity in the sense that we don’t have to make fun of Christianity in order to show that it is an unnecessary philosophy. On the other hand, I don’t see anything wrong with making jokes about Christianity. I don’t see anything wrong with making jokes about atheism, either. I will draw a line at making mean-spirited jokes about Christians (or atheists or any other group) that rely on stereotypes and are about individuals instead of beliefs. For example, any joke that implies that everyone in a certain group is stupid is problematic unless it accurately represents the group (which it generally doesn’t). Such jokes are offensive in the same sense that “blonde” jokes are offensive.

I will also say (to the annoyance of many atheists) that it is likely unethical to disrespect someone’s religious beliefs just for the purpose of demonstrating that you disrespect their beliefs. I have no respect for a communion wafer, but I think it would be wrong to pretend I’m Catholic, get a communion wafer, and then sneak it out of church so I could make a YouTube video of me desecrating it.

I think that there are individuals — Christian and otherwise — who do not deserve my respect and who are fair targets for mockery. For examples among Christians, I would include:

I don’t know what you mean about not needing God to have faith, so I’ll skip that.

I agree that atheists have the freedom to accept and respect everyone for who they are. However, I don’t think we are obligated to do so. I try to grant everyone respect until such time as they show they do not deserve it. I disagree with those atheists who think that no Christians are worthy of respect, but I have also encountered many Christians who I could not respect without giving up some of my rights or self respect. For example, I won’t be quiet and hide my atheism if I find myself in a group of people who are discussion religion but would be offended by atheism.

In closing, you say that you disagree with the entirety of Christianity. Really? That’s a pretty broad statement. My guess is that there’s a fair amount of stuff that Christianity holds true that you would agree with. I’d be interested to hear more details.

Posted on January 22, 2011 at 7:56 am by ideclare · Permalink
In: Dealing with religious folks

2 Responses

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  1. Written by CToBM
    on January 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Stopping in to say that as a Christian, I completely agree with your 16 points on why making a mockery of Christians is justified. We mock them too because they surely do not represent the Jesus we follow. I appreciate your fair and balanced approach to respecting other faiths. Not respecting the followers of those faith is also justified. We at Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented have had enough of the high profile Christian hypocricy and endeavor to call them out as such. Blessings.

  2. Written by nicole
    on February 14, 2011 at 6:23 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Jokes, funny, yes. But by ‘disrespect’ I do not mean ‘make fun of’. I mean disrespect. I find that most of this site is just a mockery and not really funny, but insulting.

    When I say I don’t need to believe in God to have faith I mean that I can believe that the bad will turn good, the sick can heal, and that karma can kick you in the ass or pick you up, and God is not the one who makes this happen for me. However an awful lot of people don’t think good things can happen on their own and therefore look to God for guidance.

    When I say i disagree with the entirety of Christianity, I simply mean what it stands for. I disagree with following one holy being, and one book, and ten commandments. I believe everyone SHOULD create their own morals and values, and be able to have faith in themselves, those around them and the physical world.

    Also I never ever said that there are not people who are not worthy of respect. I definitely did not imply it nor mean it in anyway. I do not think everyone should be treated equal, but it is based on an individuals actions, rather than a group of peoples beliefs, lifestyle, or appearance.

    Sorry for the lateness of my reply.

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