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Respect for religion and what that implies

Reader comment on item: The Rushdie Fatwa 25 Years Later
in response to reader comment: Respect For Religion

Submitted by Sigmund (United States), Feb 17, 2014 at 21:43

It is not clear what you mean. "Respecting one's faith" would imply a given individual (whoever is meant by "one") respecting his or her own religion. If that religion happens to be, say, Hinduism, then he would not necessarily have to respect any other religion though he certainly could. If a Muslim "respects the faith Islam" then perhaps from the Islamic point of view it may be the case that "by and large he couldn't critisize it" but I do not really know that for sure. I do know for sure that a Jew can respect Judaism and criticize Judaism and a Christian can respect Christianity and criticize Christianity. Such criticism of one's own religion occurs all the time, at least in Western civilization.

I agree that in the West we are generally " thought [or perhaps you mean "taught" but either way would be true] to respect religion" and leaders including George Bush, Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney avoid offending members of any religion. But none of this means that we cannot or should not criticize any particular religion or even the concept of religion in general. I happen to respect religion in general and I respect Islam as a religion. Though I would not say to Islam something absurd like "Go chase yourself! Go climb a tree! Go fly a kite! Go jump in the lake!" I do say to Islam or, more correctly, to Muslims, "I respect your religion but I believe that there are some elements and aspects of your religion which are badlly in need of reform."

This short paragraph is not the place to list all these elements and aspects but I have seen many of them discussed on Dr. Pipes website. I do not think that such statements are inconsistent with respect for religion in general or even with respect for Islam in particular. Finally, not everyone shares my respect for religion. In my opinion, an extremely valuable aspect of Western civilization is that we are not constrained to respect religion and we are free to criticize it if we wish. As much as I respect religion, I also believe that the right to criticize religion (any religion) or even to disrespect (to use a recent term favored by the younger crowd) religion is valuable to the extent that it is something that I am willing to fight for.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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