Respect [en]

Recently, friends have brought to my attention that I tend to be rather annoying at times, with respect to stating my views on religion. In particular, that I like to bring up related issues in conversation and to stick to the ensuing discussion persistently. They also point out that I can be quite upfront about such topics, and often lack respect for other people’s religious views.

Well, yes, I admit most of that is true. However, as far as lack of respect goes, I try to apply the following rule:

“We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”

H. L. Mencken, Minority Report (1956)

I originally read this in Dawkins’ The God Delusion, and for a long time I thought he was the original author of the quote. I cannot find it right now, but I think Richard went on to elaborate what it means. It may have been along these lines:

If people mention above belief, we may nod politely, and we should let it go. However, if they constantly rub it in our faces, or insist that we accept their theory as truth, we should point out the flaws in the theory. This may go as far as stating that one might consider their wives ugly and their kids not overly bright — if that is what evidence suggests.

So that’s how I like to hold it with religion. Though I have to admit that I am in deed overly sensitive when it comes to religion being rubbed in my face. And yes, on such occasions, I may point out the flaws in religious concepts quickly and sometimes aggressively.

And of course, the religions I’ve encountered so far make it way too easy to point out flaws! Don’t think so? Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me, and discuss your objections…

Note: The original quote is from the fifties, so no wonder it’s slightly sexist. Please feel free to replace all occurrences of fellow with gal, his with her, and (if you wish) wife with husband. IMHO the resulting sentence transports the message equally well.

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