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:
- Evangelists who appear more interested in money than in salvation
- Church leaders who immorally act to protect themselves or their followers from criminal prosecution
- Creationists who attempt to win arguments by misrepresenting evidence or misstating the views of science
- People who want to use the law to enforce their religious beliefs but would object to laws enforcing the religious beliefs of others
- People who see separation of government and religion as an attack on religion
- People who are offended by the fact that others do not share their beliefs
- People who think that asking questions about religion is wrong
- People who think that atheists should have fewer rights than theists
- People who wish harm or death on those who do not agree with them
- People who act morally superior but do not have a consistent morality
- People who reject evidence simply because they do not agree with it
- People who think that God wrote a book about how they should live their lives but haven’t read it
- People who say they are members of a particular religion but don’t know what the religion stands for
- People who misrepresent their religion or its history because it is convenient for them to do so
- People who use their religious beliefs as an excuse or justification for bad behavior
- Blatant hypocrites
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.