Thursday, May 5, 2011

On Religion and Bigotry

I was accused recently of being ignorant of my intolerance and my bigotry.

Now, I understand hero worship is liable to make one say rash things, so I don’t have any harsh words for The Heathen Republican. However, I think a proper explanation on my part is due, in order to justify my view that I am not a bigot when I mock Mormons.

To me, there is no such thing as bigotry towards an action. I don’t express bigotry towards child molesters. It’s not bigotry to hate Nazis. I’m not a bigot for laughing at Osama bin Laden’s death. I am simply justified in judging those people and their actions.

The second two examples above could be symptoms of bigotry. If you hate the German or Arab people, and therefore revel in their death on ethnic grounds, it’s bigotry. The same goes for if you hate Adolf Hitler or bin Laden because they’re left handed, or if you hate pedophiles (which is an attraction to young children, and distinct from a child molester who acts upon the urge).

However, if you hate someone because of their actions… that isn’t bigotry. To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., he dreamt of a world where his children would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, i.e. how they act. Of course, race isn’t the only thing we don’t choose: sexual orientation, gender, nationality, parents, what schools we attend, even what religion we are raised in.

So, to some extent, religion may not be something one should criticize others for… except, I believe that once someone is an adult, they are responsible for their actions, regardless of their situation. This is not necessarily fair, because ignorance often persists beyond the age of 16 or 18 or whatever arbitrary age one chooses, but life isn’t fair.

Besides, a little criticism might be just what an ignorant person needs to hear.

Considering how much constant criticism atheists have hurled at us, it is not as though I have no clue how it feels. I don’t feel oppressed or hated. When someone criticizes atheism to my face, I feel like I’m being stupided at. I accept it as a challenge for me to assert my view, because I think one who lacks out-spoken support for the truth is the quiet advocate of lies.

In the end, religion is a choice.

I have met many people through blogging who are closet atheists, usually because their family is religious and they can’t abandon religion without severe consequences. I have sympathy for people in this situation. I even have sympathy for people who are just sheltered or ignorant or indoctrinated or conditioned or socialized or whatever you want to call it.

It is a tough journey from religion to atheism. I don’t say this from experience, because I had it easy. I was raised Catholic, which was a lot like living in Indiana: I realized pretty early I wasn’t sticking around. Catholicism is an under-handed lob, if not hitting off the tee.

When I began blogging, I initially worried about offending atheists in this situation, essentially forced into religion. Should they have to endure my criticism and their religion?

I’ve found (so far without exception) that those who are stuck in religion enjoy hearing criticism of religion, so long as there is some basis behind it. If I see someone saying “every Catholic priest is a child molester,” I would say you’re wrong. I would take offense at that statement, though not as a Catholic, but as a person who values the truth. In point of fact, most (if not all) priests sleep with adult men and women.

Well, that and I’m willing to play fast and loose with the facts (and all my principles, really) for the sake of humor.

Still, I find it within my principles to make religion the butt of jokes, without any need to abandon anything for humor. Well… I don’t need to, but I’ve never been one to do the bare minimum. I like to go above and beyond, give it my all, blah blah blah, motivational garbage. I don’t have to offend anyone, but where’s the fun in that?

The truth is, if I am criticizing someone and no one’s feelings get hurt… chances are I didn’t add anything to the discussion. Atheism is all about criticism: it is the rejection of an idea. Atheism is [supposedly] what this blog is about (well, that and my own personal vanity project). And while I may go off track, I try to bring it back around to my rejection of religion, whether I’m talking about politics or music or the top ten ridiculous things I could think of.

But feel free to call me a bigot, it’s a free country. I’d rather be called a bigot than be retarded.


  1. It's not "bigotry" to hate a deranged and dangerous ideology. Hating Mormonism or Islam or Christianity is no more "bigoted" than hating Communism or racism or, as you suggest, Nazism.

    Most religions, by contrast, have plenty of real bigotry built into them -- against gays, if nothing else.

  2. I whole-heartedly agree, but since the issue came up (and I was accused by a fellow atheist, who might actually be interested in an explanation), I figured I would make my view clear.


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