Religion’s Undeserved Respect

Funny little word, respect. It can mean different things depending on the context. For example, there’s the respect one gives to people you don’t know, that you’ve never even met before, until you encounter them in a doorway perhaps, and you hold the door open for them or, if they perform this small service for you, you thank them politely. This kind of respect is just good manners.

Then there is the kind of respect you afford someone for their achievements, whether it be in sport, music, science or any other field. This kind of respect needs no explanation,though individual examples might!

You might respect an institution, such as a religion. If you haven’t noticed already, I’d better tell you now that I don’t! That doesn’t mean I don’t respect people who happen to be religious, though in some cases I cannot do so, and in fact I have many theist friends. It is the dogma they profess to believe that I despise, but the nicer kind of theist, who have predominantly featured in my life, tend to filter that dogma through a strong sense of empathy and a healthy conscience.

If any of my examples automatically deserve respect it is the first one. Good manners help to lubricate a society in which we are ever more closely pushed into one another’s path. We cannot, however, expect any more respect as our due. It must not only be earned, but freely given too, so when I’m told I must respect religion my hackles are raised.

If any one, religious or not, wants respect, they should behave in a way that engenders respect. Not from other people, but from themselves. The rest, if their conscience is clear, will follow.

Of course, some might say that little picture at the top of the screen is disrespectful. Well, you don’t have to come here, and I promise not to display it in a church!


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