Making Fun of Religious Beliefs of Others
Reader Maxwell asks what it is that I find particularly hateful about the post ridiculing a beautiful passage from the New Testament that I linked to in my previous post.
Making fun of the religious beliefs of others is wrong. How would you feel about a person who stops next to a Muslim performing the namaz and starts laughing and pointing their finger at the praying person? Or somebody who loudly ridicules the Jews for wearing kipas? Or somebody who writes a blog post saying, “Those Hindus are beyond stupid. They actually believe that cows are sacred. What idiots”?
It’s perfectly fine not to share the religious beliefs of others or not to have any religious beliefs. But to approach a complex system of beliefs of a huge group of people from the point of view of a guffawing idiot who is proud of being ignorant of said religious worldview is a sign of nothing but sheer idiocy.
Religions, atheism and agnosticism are ways in which people approach the most important, fundamental questions of their existence. Where did I come from? What happens to me after I die? What is the purpose of my existence? How do I determine the moral code that guides me? Everybody has the right to answer these questions in the way they choose for themselves. This is a deeply intimate issue. It is more intimate than sex because, ultimately, you cannot share either your conscience or your death with anybody. And making fun of the way that some people have found to address these fundamental issues of existence is a lot worse than ridiculing others from not practicing their sexuality in the same way you do.
Now, let’s forget for a moment that the blogger in question ridiculed a passage from a book that many people consider to be holy. Let’s just say that s/he took a quote from any work of literature that has existed for centuries and has been treasured by many and ridiculed it in the “Sheesh, this is totally stupid because I don’t get what it is about” manner. As a literature professor, I have had my classes brought down to this level on a variety of occasions by students who are too dense even to attempt to see the beauty of Quevedo’s poetry and Calderon’s plays. As one student wrote on the course evaluation, “I don’t get why we had to read the poetry from 1,000 years ago. This was so long ago, who even cares any more?”
As my prof used to say, if it seems to you like everybody else in the room is an idiot, there is probably just one idiot in that room and that idiot is you. And it might just be possible that the countless people who enjoyed this text and were inspired by it were not completely deluded.