If we take a moment to compare religion to other freedoms of human belief then we find a stark contrast.
People say they are entitled to their religious beliefs. I disagree.
That’s not to say that people aren’t entitled to private beliefs. You can believe whatever you like inside your own mind and feel free to portray it however you like in private ceremony, art and free speech.
But when a belief is religious rather than personal in nature; it takes on more sinister aspects.
If we compare these types of belief with aesthetic beliefs then we can see the point I’m attempting to make.
Humans have very individual tastes in art, music, literature, and so on. We don’t question that in and of itself. One person finds a painting soothing that another may find boring. That is fine.
The difference comes when you try to imagine a group of people who say “You cannot like that piece. It is forbidden. We find it abhorrent and if you disagree then we will hold you in contempt of our aesthetic view.”. This would be absurd. They would have no grounds to try anything of the sort.
This is slightly more subtle than the difference between private belief and religion as religion quite often carries things further with threats, violent reactions, purposeful segregation, and demands upon one’s time and freedom.
I find myself hard pressed to find another example of when personal beliefs become so very dogmatic and forceful. Even if we stretch the search to include the beliefs of the rights of gun ownership in America, which is critiqued the world over as a thoroughly bad idea in modern times, does not come close to the type of savage violence inspired by the teachings of most religious texts.
Why then are religious beliefs held to be as worthy of respect as personal ones?