“What is wrong with inciting intense dislike of a religion if the activities or teachings of that religion are so outrageous, irrational or abusive of human rights that they deserve to be intensely disliked?” Rowan Atkinson.

Any thoughts ?

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Same here Melinda.

Since Christianity is the top dog here in the U.S. I'll vent on it.  When ministers, parents, grandparents, and friends tell a child that they were born a sinner because two imaginary people ate the fruit of a tree after being conned by a talking snake six thousand years ago but there is a man/god named Jesus that loves you more than anything and if you confess your sin and accept him as your savior you will go to heaven, however if you don't accept the man/god Jesus that loves you more than anything as your savior he will burn you in a place called hell for ever.  Religion started when the first con man met the first fool (Mark Twain)

I used to be very tolerant of religion but no more.  I now dislike religion intensely because of the ever increasing abuses from suicide bombers to the priest pedophiles to the Westboro Baptist Church.

Too many religions are based in statements which can in no way be demonstrated as true at best, and at worst are outright lies.  That by itself is bad enough, but when these belief systems further insist that your destination toward one possible afterlife or another is solely based on your unthinking acceptance of these beliefs and that one is so horrific as to frighten anyone who would believe it to the point of mental trauma, again, based on LIES, this is heinous and inexcusable.  The use of falsehoods, fear, and coercion to perpetuate religion, particularly christianity and islam, though mormonism is not exempt, nor is scientology, should disqualify these institutions from any support from any person with the power of independent rational thought.

And if those same people are inspired to distaste, dislike or active hatred of such organizations, they are hardly to be blamed.

Loren Miller:

"...And if those same people are inspired to distaste, dislike or active hatred of such organizations, they are hardly to be blamed".


Very much agree with everything you say, here and every other post on ANx that I've read.

Never better said in such a short paragraph. Loren, may I quote you?

What is wrong with inciting intense dislike of a religion...... 

Nothing, with one caveat. I'm not so sure I'd use the word "incite." Engender, promulgate, produce, cause, or stimulate is, in my estimation, a better descriptor as the means to the desired result than "incite." Incite carries an underlying tone of violent backlash.

This morning, on the way to work, I was listening to a story of new religious violence in Egypt over the weekend. Muslims and Coptic Christians shooting at each other in the street, with 6 dead so far, and no end in site. I'm sure one or more religious leaders "incited" their followers to hatred against the opposing heathens. 


Agreed. Rowan Atkinson maybe should have said engender instead.

There would be nothing wrong with it only if it were actually possible.

Pointing out the foibles of hypocrites or absurdities in dogma or scripture will only cause the faithful to become defensive.  

If you seriously want to help people see things more reasonably, you need to gain their trust and you cannot do that while you are trying to make them look foolish.

Ridicule, whether it is religious or political, appears to be a way of rallying the troops against a common enemy. In my humble opinion, that makes it hate speech.

And that is why we are here.  To deal with our frustrations with like-minded, thoughtful colleagues so we can go out into the world and gain the trust of those disillusioned theists to help them realize the sources of their disillusionment and a more realistic way of belief.

That is my problem.  If you intend for theists to see the ridicule, then it would potentially (but not likely) help them to see the light. If that were the case, then I could see a role for ridicule.  

If the audience for your ridicule is atheists, then you are not trying to get people to wake up; you're trying to rally the troops to join you in your dislike of the religious. 

That's why I consider it hate speech.

It's not the same as what happened in Germany or Rwanda, to be sure. But we have to decide what we want to accomplish. We do not need polarization -- we do not need to get both camps to hunker down for battle. When we make public comments, we need to be clear about what we are trying to accomplish.


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