T Nation

Why Do People Care?


Why do people care about other people's religion. I notice it here all the time, some atheists HATE the fact that people have a religion that they personally consider ridiculous. I'm just curious what causes atheists to react so strongly to religious people.

I mean, I can see where a Christian is coming from, for instance, if you tell him he's a dumbass for believing in a sky wizard. Conversely, I can see how an atheist might be put off by being reprimanded and told he's going to hell.

Question is, why does anyone care so much about what someone else is doing. I'm not talking about reasoned debate or just trying to spread the good news. I see it all the time at school, the idea that someone THINKS THAT is enough for someone to start spewing vitriol. I don't know, it always struck me as weird.


Yeah, I cant see how Christian beliefs affect others, especially me.

Except that I'm considered rude if I dont say "God bless you" when someone sneezes.

Except that "In God we trust" is printed on the money I use.

Except that my gay friends are discriminated against, as per biblical teaching.

Except that I had to say "One nation, under God" every time I recited the pledge of allegiance growing up

Except that many businesses are not open or close early on sunday - thanks to religious tradition.

Except that progress in fields such as medicine are still being slowed by the religious right.

...yup. Can't imagine why I'd care.


Religious conviction (or lack thereof) in and of itself is a purely personal issue. As long as his behavior has no negative impact on my life, my neighbor can pray to God or Allah or Yahweh or a bowl of lettuce for all I care.

However, we bring our world-view into the public discourse. The political tug of war between religious conservatism and liberalism is one in which we all have a stake. When the religion of one man affects the life of his neighbor, sparks rightfully fly.


The day Christians stop raping my neighbors with their ridiculous notions I shall stop caring. If you want to preach your religion to my people I will preach the flaws of your religion, so that they may decide their religion seeing both sides of the argument. A better question is why can you not accept criticism of your religion? Is your religion not perfect? It should hold up to any criticism... But it doesn't, does it?

Furthermore is it really that hard to believe that somebody might actually be fighting for your benefit? To break the mental chains you have placed on yourselves? Is that really so hard to swallow? Why do I care enough to try and do such a thing? If that is the question then I must admit I do not know, my-damn-self, half the time.

Maybe, however, just maybe I have a strong hate for your religion. Maybe I have seen what it can do to ones mind FIRSTHAND. Maybe I have lived your religion for some time - indoctrinated from birth. Maybe I had to fight the struggle of breaking its horrible chains all by myself - Maybe I know how hard that is. Maybe I realize that most people will never win that struggle alone. Maybe I have seen what it does to my close family. Maybe I have seen their illogical and self detrimental responses to the world based on their religious beliefs. Maybe I do hate your religion...


Actually, how can you NOT care that so many people around you, every day, believe that a talking snake convinced a woman to eat a magical piece of fruit? And that a man is going to come back from the dead (again) one day? And that magical horseys are going to come flying out of the sky when the world ends?

And that someone holding similar beliefs is considered a reason to vote that person into public office??


Sure, if Frank down the street thinks his dog is is mother reincarnate, why should you care?

And if the majority of people in town start to think that their pets are filled with the spirits of deceased loved ones.. not a big deal, right?

And if you're no longer allowed to buy a pet from the local petstore, unless you can identify a deceased family member whose spirit you can see in it? And if the police are constantly busy with "missing persons reports" whenever an animal runs away? If pets are suddenly given the right to vote, since they are, after all, just people in a different form?

Consider living the last hypothetical there, and then being asked "Why do you care if Frank thinks is dog is his mother reincarnate? It doesnt hurt you at all!"


Sounds like you need to get the fuck out of New Jersey. Other than the occasional JW, we leave each other alone in regular America. AND we are trusted enough to pump our own gas.


As usual, great question AN. Now just take notice who cares more about what others believe. It's telling.
(Still the worlds best screen name!)


Maybe you need to worry more about your self, than minutia. The majority of American's are Christian.
I will accept a strait democratic vote on those things you take exception to. If people vote to take 'God' out of the pledge or the money or what ever, I will accept that, if they want to keep it would you agree to that? I think that's fair.
How often to you recite the pledge or read anything other than the numbers on money anyway?
If I sneeze and you don't say shit, I don't care.
I would be amused though if you said 'nothing bless you'.


God bless you was originally pagan in origin. It was said to protect the person who sneezes from expelling their soul through the action.


Those are all examples of shit that doesn't matter.

This is a valid point. It always sucks when people use religion to justify public policy decisions that you don't agree with. The thing is, the way people react to others' beliefs is OFTEN not just a complaint about a specific issue like this. I don't know if you've noticed, but often when people talk about Christianity (or w/e), it's not just in the sense of public policy, but a reaction to the fact that they believe in a SKY WIZARD!!!

I guess I'm reacting mostly to the fact that many people lack of respect for each others' personal beliefs that don't affect them. Does it matter if people literally think a snake tempted adam and eve, etc? No, it matters that many Christians don't believe homosexual couples have the right to marry.

So why isn't the discussion of things related just to those issues? I don't know, people are assholes I guess. Everyone reacts too strongly to unrelated flaws of people's beliefs.

I hope I'm making sense, and just for the record I consider myself agnostic (and as I've gotten older I've shied more and more away from belief in any sort of god).


I feel like this is pattern; the people who are most against Christianity are people who were raised with it and dropped it later. I'm not saying this pertains to you in particular but many people seem to be scarred by being told that sex was wrong or some such thing and it makes them bitter and overly reactive (in a way that discourages open, civilized discussion).

I, for instance, was not raised with Christianity per se (I wanted to go to Church and my mom took us). Now that I'm older I don't really care.

Small anecdote that I hope illuminates what I'm talking about:
I had a friend in my dorm that was absolutely OUTRAGED by the fact that the Catholic church said it was okay to sell indulgences or something. She wasn't a Catholic and hadn't been for a long time, but the fact that she was raised with it still made Catholicism a very significant part of her identity (I guess) and she was always really angry about all things Catholic.


This seems to be a fairly contrived example to me.


Things like this:

Kid gets bacterial bronchial pneumonia so rather than take her to the hospital what do the parents do? Pray. I think we can all guess at the outcome.


I say believe whatever you want, but keep it personal. Religion doesn't bother me until someone else has to suffer for it, like when it's used as an argument to dictate public policy, when I'm judged for being an atheist, or when a religious family will let their child die because they would rather pray then get medicine.


Thanks JFK, but no thanks. I'm not going to allow someone to persecute me into keeping my beliefs personal. That's like me telling you, it's okay if you believe whatever, but as soon as you make it publicized I'm going to yell for the police, &c.



Why don't you answer the very question you offered, since you did it yourself.

Why did you feel the need to bastardize people who "believe in a sky wizard?"

What gave you the impulse to articulate it in such words? Rather than write it something like, "why do people believe in a higher being, a higher power, in an idea of divinity," you chose to phrase in the condescending manner that you did. Why?


I think publicizing it is absolutely fine. I tell people that I am an agnostic leaning towards belief in some sort of extra-physical creator. They tell me they are Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, whatever...and that is perfectly fine. I can discuss it for hours with people. We can all talk about who we are and what we believe.

The issue is with personal faith and its bearing on public policy. As soon as someone tries to introduce legislation grounded in religious morality, I have a huge problem. We live in a world in which faith is anything but universal--people believe all sorts of things and each one of them invariably claims to be perfectly and wholly correct. The truth is that empirical scientific evidence has made literal interpretations of each of the great world religions impossible to support. Since no religion can be proved to be the "right one" on the basis of evidence, none should have any bearing on law or public policy.

You showed an understanding of this yourself in the thread about gay marriage. You told me that you think homosexuality immoral for religious reasons, but that it wouldn't make sense to present them to me since I am not a Catholic. That, in my opinion, is exactly how religion should be treated in public discourse.


I bet there are a lot of thing that you believe to be right or wrong that are not based in science that you think should be public policy.


The mechanism with which I judge right and wrong has not been disproven by science. We can talk about the morality of an issue without appealing to controversial literature of the ancient world. To use the Bible is to use a document that has been unequivocally proven to be full of error.

As a side not, I am not trying to demean the allegorical worth of Biblical or any other religious stories. The New Testament in particular is full of the right kind ideas in my opinion. I see no problem with absorbing Jesus' teachings about love and then trying to bring an understanding of compassion to public discourse.

To choose a specific passage and to say "we have to do X because Y is written in this book" is absolutely unacceptable. Just because something has been written down doesn't mean it has any worth--until it becomes clear that it is unequivocally correct. Until then it is just a collection of words on a page.