Friday, 23 August 2013

Religious Sensitivity

Recently I've been talking about religion more and more with various people in public. Not because I've been deliberately bringing it up, just because there has been opportunity for discussion about various aspects of religion. However I've noticed when I do mention religion, I get told to speak quieter and keep my voice down, like someone might hear me say the word Mormon and be offended.

It's not like I'm saying the word "cunt", or talking about the sexual practice of fisting (thanks Tim Minchin), just words like "Christian", "Mormon", "Muslim". For some reason these words attract the same level of condemnation as the expletives mentioned above.

This is particularly weird, because I swear like a fucking sailor around my friends all the time, and I never get told to be quiet for that.

I'm not even being offensive, but my use of the word "Catholic" in a civilized discussion receives the same response as would using the word "Nazi" at a bar mitzvah.

This speaks volumes about how society views religion, as a topic that is not for public discussion. As though somehow religious ideas are different from ideas about politics, healthcare, or even sporting teams.

This simple fact is probably why religion has lasted as long as it has in the developed world. Medical students, lawyers, physics majors, the brightest of the bright, who all day long examine topics with clinical logic, have clearly never applied this logic to their religious beliefs and questioned the fundamental premises that underpin their beliefs. And why not? Because no one ever talks about it. The only exposure religious people get to discussion about their beliefs is church on Sundays, surrounded by people who believe exactly the same things they do.

I'm glad for this cognitive dissonance though, if every religious person used the same logic they apply to religion for every day use, we would all be fucked.

The first step to a more intelligent and more free society is to be able to discuss all topics openly, with no special treatment for any set of ideas.
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