Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Debating Religious Tolerance: When Is It Okay to Ridicule Someone's Beliefs?

Now for my semi-regular rant. Feel free to join in.

I am fed up with the public practice of religion bashing. Look, every faith has its "sketchy" beliefs and practices, and I'm not a fan of blanket ridicule. Be honest and take a look at your own religion, if you have one. If you're an intelligent person to any degree, you may choose to abstain from a ritual or two. For example, I won't be swinging a bag of coins and a live chicken over my head for Yom Kippur...ever. And yet, there are still people who think every Jew observes an animal sacrifice in preparation for the High Holy Days. To quote a line from Annie Hall (1977), "I love being reduced to a cultural stereotype."

Back to my point: I'm sick of the national hypocrisy. We tout our constitutional right to freedom of religion, and yet many of us behave as if religious freedom only pertains to oneself, not others. We stand idly by when someone blasts a religion for innocuous practices or holds responsible an entire religion for the actions of a small sect. It bugs the hell out of me when the press joins in the virtual lynchings, too, which happens all too often.

The thing is, I love "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (Comedy Central) as much as any liberal-leaning Democrat, but for some reason, the thought of seeing The Book of Mormon makes me a tad uncomfortable. Having wagged a finger in disapproval, I must admit that my WTF radar becomes active for religious tenets that:
  • discourage questions and critical thinking 
  • encourage mass segregation from non-believers 
  • pursue the forced conversion of non-believers, both alive and dead 
  • cover up or ignore the activities of pedophiles or other sexual abusers 
  • practice trickery in an effort to attract believers, donations or whatever 
  • use religion as an excuse to avoid deny lifesaving medical treatment 
  • encourage prejudice against a group of people or invoke religious license to marginalize such people
  • coerce huge donations from congregants while simultaneously outfitting leaders in lavish surroundings
My list could go on and on, but you now know where my religious tolerance begins to subside. If you see your practices in the above list, I will be honest with you about my aversion, especially if you wish to engage me in open discussion.

Okay. See the comments opportunity below? Bring it.

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