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User:Hojimachong/Respect

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With the so-called "culture wars" in a never-ending and spiteful deadlock, I think that it's important to take a minute and remember some important things regarding your opponents.

When many non-Christians think of Christians, they think of a religion based on hate, intolerance, and hypocrisy. Unfortunately, this is the Christianity that has been shaped by a relatively small group - a group that uses the religion as a tool to advance their hateful ways under an aura of legitimacy. However, this kind of Christianity often taints what most people consider the "true" form of Christianity; love, charity, compassion, and helpfulness. Some non-Christians also may see proselytizing as a rude and obnoxious tool. We've all seen the street-corner preachers and the Mormons on bicycles. What is necessary to keep in mind here is that these proselytizers truly wish to save your soul from eternal damnation in hell, and believe that their spreading of the Gospel/Qur'an/ is only to help you, not themselves. If I was trying to "save" somebody and they cruelly mocked me, I'd be pretty upset. While the incessant preaching may be annoying, it is not appropriate to mock the God of the person preaching to you, as they truly want what they think is best for you.

Alternatively, most Christians think of either communism, fascism, or Nazism when they see non-believers. They must keep in mind that most atheists are not part of secretive worldwide nazi/socialist/feminist/homosexual agenda. Most people who are advancers of these ideas seem to profess it quite openly. Most secular people also have your best interests at heart - they want you to be free from the shackles of religion, and able to live openly. Another frustrating point to non-Christians goes along the lines of "how in hell can you believe this garbage?" To some people, it makes sense, and to others it may not. The Christians are saying the same things about the non-believers. Since religion probably won't be dead in this world for a long, long time, correctly interpreting religions (as to focus on the important issues, such as fixing poverty, lowering the crime rate, and encouraging compassion and love) is the single most important job of important religious leaders. Hopefully, with the "generation of hate" dying off (Robertson, Falwell, etc.), the next wave of leaders can focus on these important issues.

Another common belief amongst Christians is that secularists equate dissent with hate. If someone wants to speak out against gays using Bible verses as a justification, it's their right. It's also the right of the homosexuals to stand 20 feet away, wearing bright pink "Sodomite" T-shirts, chanting slogans at the anti-gay speaker and kissing one another. Another common belief is that protest=suppression. People who protest the gathering of hate groups don't necessarily want the message of the group to be forcefully silenced - they merely want bystanders to see a different opinion on the issue.

Respect does NOT mean "don't criticize". If you don't agree with a viewpoint, then intellectually destroy it. But at least try to understand where your opponent is coming from, why he feels this way, and where he finds his justification. Heck, this might give you more ammo to undermine his view.

It is important to remember that vilifying the enemy only weakens your claim. In all fairness, it seems as though the Christians are more guilty of this - Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Kent Hovind deliberately vilify their enemies, while most atheists (save perhaps Dawkins, who occasionally oversteps the fine line of respect) prefer to use facts to argue their points.

Some people also confuse respect with imbecility acceptance. There is a line that can be crossed. Hating blacks because they are blacks is not something that is to be respected. It is the right of the person to spew their hate, but it certainly crosses the line of what can be rational. In America, though, hating LGBT people, Mexicans, and atheists is still "fashionable" because the Christian right makes it so. This doesn't make these hatreds any more valid, it just means that the "moral leaders" aren't going to punish you for these hatreds.

I make no attempt to hide my bias in this rant. I certainly will not respect (or advocate the respect of) anybody who knowingly lies, deceives, or stereotypes. These type of people try to hide behind world views that they can easily twist to push their agenda of irrational hatred. These people are easy to spot, and deserve no respect. They deserve the right to speak (even the wackos are protected by our fickle 1st amendment), but anybody with 5% of a functioning brain could destroy them in a debate. But many people at ideological odds with me truly believe in their cause, A cause which isn't inherently "bad" - a Christian theocracy could ostensibly solve many of our nations problems (at the cost of every basic civil liberty we enjoy). These people may just see the world differently.

Perhaps the best real-world analogy is the U.S. and Iran. If I'm the U.S., I certainly do not like Iran's ideological viewpoint. I pretty much hate the idea of 70-odd million people trapped in a medieval-style theocracy, a theocracy that murders homosexuals and persecutes non-Muslims. But I can respect the devout faith of many Iranian citizens, and attempt to find common ground with them. In a world that is consumed by deep-seated disagreement, respect is something that should never be forgotten. But don't confuse respect with acceptance, or tolerance.

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Hojimachong is just a dumb, 15 year old contributor to RationalWiki. Please ignore him, as he knows nothing.