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Criticizing ideas

To criticize a person for their race is manifestly irrational and ridiculous, but to criticize their religion, that is a right. That is a freedom. The freedom to criticize ideas, any ideas - even if they are sincerely held beliefs - is one of the fundamental freedoms of society. A law which attempts to say you can criticize and ridicule ideas as long as they are not religious ideas is a very peculiar law indeed. ~Rowan Atkinson (commenting in 2004 on Britain`s proposed Racial and Religious Hatred Bill)

I don't know if Britain passed that bill, but the idea behind it seems a bit peculiar to me, as well. Quite frankly, I'd be surprised if someone in the U.S. hasn't proposed such a law, considering the bizarre rash of unbelievable bills being proposed and passed all over the country lately.

We had a brief discussion about this topic before, but I came across this quote again, and wanted to revisit it.  We criticize political stands.  We criticize parenting choices.  We criticize lifestyles.  All of these things are personal, some based on deeply held beliefs.  Why should religion be held to a different standard?  Why shouldn't it be criticized?

If you think that religion is off-limits to negative scrutiny, do you think that no religion deserves criticism?  If you feel that some are deserving of scrutiny and criticism, why those and not all? 

Answer Question
 
jsbenkert

Asked by jsbenkert at 9:18 AM on Apr. 26, 2012 in Religious Debate

Level 37 (89,290 Credits)
Answers (59)
  • Why should religion be held to a different standard? Why shouldn't it be criticized?

    Maybe I've been living in a cave all my life because I seem to have missed something. Hasn't 'religion' been criticized since the beginning of time?
    popzaroo

    Answer by popzaroo at 10:38 AM on Apr. 27, 2012

  • That's what I was trying to ask for lol this whole time in my last post! Thank you bandgeek for mentioning that! Thankfully towards the end of my post today I was able to close it. But I think yes there are ways to say things without judging the person themselves! We believe what we want. So for a person to get self defensive about someones faith and attack them sounds uncalled for to me! Because that's not what debate is suppose to be! It's suppose to be about respect but at the same time to acknowledg that not everyone has the same view! That's their choice just like it's mine!
    Hesmynavyman

    Answer by Hesmynavyman at 12:01 AM on Apr. 27, 2012

  • do you think that no religion deserves criticism? It's free speech, it's more then ok to do! Your giving your speech that you don't believe! Why would we want to hear all the negative comments from your mouth when we have only mentioned the Bible?


    If you feel that some are deserving of scrutiny and criticism, why those and not all? It's all about free speech!

    Answer Question
    Hesmynavyman

    Answer by Hesmynavyman at 11:57 PM on Apr. 26, 2012

  • All I'm trying to say is that it IS possible to discuss these things without judging the person. Whether or not you believe it, it is possible. I disagree with the idea of hell as cruel and hateful, yet I don't think people who believe in hell are hateful. I think that the idea that God would punish homosexuals for the way they were born is heartless, though I don't think that the people who feel that way are heartless. I understand that people are bigger than just one or two ideas that they hold that I may disagree with. It's always more complicated than just one issue. Just because someone might subscribe to a belief I see negatively, like hell, doesn't mean that they have no love in their hearts, etc. No one person is any one idea, and to disagree on an idea is just that - disagreeing on one small detail, not writing off the person as a whole.
    bandgeek521

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 8:26 PM on Apr. 26, 2012

  • "But we were talking about judging people by judging their ideas, not crossing the line into attacking them."

    No, we were saying that criticizing the idea is the same as criticizing the person, which often is done by attack. It's different, though, when they CLAIM and TEACH hate, and you don't believe your beliefs are misogynistic. One is projection and reception of one perception, the other is difference of opinion based on different perceptions.

    It still is one thing, though, to say that I see the beliefs as hateful, and another to say I see the people as hateful. Yes, I do see them as hateful, but I can discuss the ideas without discussing the people, and criticizing the idea does not have to mean criticizing the person. It's like the difference between someone saying they feel my *beliefs* are unbiblical and saying *I* am biblically ignorant, that I cherry pick, etc. If you can't understand the difference, then I'm sorry
    bandgeek521

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 8:21 PM on Apr. 26, 2012

  • "I do wonder, though, if you were to believe that it IS okay to say that the WBC is hateful, or the KKK is racist, etc, why it isn't okay for people to believe that certain ideas are misogynistic or cruel, etc"

    I don't think the discussion was about it being right or wrong. It was about whether or not criticizing/judging an idea means you're criticizing/judging the person. I said that for me, and thise whose religion is such an essential and defining aspect of tgeir identity, when you criticize the religion, you're criticizing the individual. You disagreed with that. But whether or it's OK to go is another discussion.

    Sharon
    momto2boys973

    Answer by momto2boys973 at 8:20 PM on Apr. 26, 2012

  • I do wonder, though, if you were to believe that it IS okay to say that the WBC is hateful, or the KKK is racist, etc, why it isn't okay for people to believe that certain ideas are misogynistic or cruel, etc. Sure, I understand the difference is that the WBC embraces hate and you believe that any trace of misogynistic evidence is based on misunderstanding and misinformation, but if it's not an attack to criticize the hatred we see there, why insist that criticizing other ideas IS an attack? The WBC, as far as we know, are just as committed to their beliefs, identify just as strongly with their version of faith. So if we are allowed to say that their teachings, like the idea that "God hates" anyone, is hateful, and it's not an attack against the church, why see anything else not *intended* as an attack as one?
    bandgeek521

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 8:15 PM on Apr. 26, 2012

  • "It IS one thing, though, to say that the members are hateful, and something else entirely to attack them for it."

    But we were talking about judging people by judging their ideas, not crossing the line into attacking them.

    Sharon
    momto2boys973

    Answer by momto2boys973 at 8:13 PM on Apr. 26, 2012

  • The ideas are hateful, yes. Though I don't think this is a valid comparison, as the WBC CLAIMS to be hateful, to believe God is hateful. Yes, they DO see their message as right (I never said it had to be "positive"), and I disagree. But we can't forget that hate is their actual definition of God and themselves.

    It IS one thing, though, to say that the members are hateful, and something else entirely to attack them for it. I can say that I believe they are hateful (which is true) and that I feel they miss or misconstrue the loving message of Christ, or I can say that they are poor excuses for human beings with no sense of decency or worth and that I hate them as much as they hate others (just an example, not my actual opinion). One is an attack, the other, though, is not. Saying someone is hateful is NOT an attack, though I am sorry if you believe it is. An opinion is not an attack unless it is USED as one.
    bandgeek521

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 8:09 PM on Apr. 26, 2012

  • Why is the bus lie still being told? Even Sharon's own articles show it to be a lie. That was not a Jewish bus, it was a public, government owned, government run bus route. A Hasidic company bid on the contract and won it, but that doesn't make it a Jewish bus only for Jewish people. It was a public bus, just like every other bus in all of NY, but they were trying to force their rules on everyone who rode it.

    It's that kind of lying and misinformation that muddies this issue. Criticizing something that is illegal, and happens to be done by a religious group doesn't make it somehow less illegal. Just like an individual agreeing with that bus company breaking the law doesn't make it less illegal. Standing up and saying, you cannot force others to live by your religion while using a government provided and government funded service is not personally attacking you. It's also not anti-Semetic.
    NotPanicking

    Answer by NotPanicking at 8:07 PM on Apr. 26, 2012

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