Social Question

tramnineteen's avatar

Why does insulting the religious not carry a stigma similar to insulting the homosexual or minority races?

Asked by tramnineteen (741points) August 8th, 2009

Racism gets shut down immediately in most circles and conversations.

Similar attitudes towards people with different sexual preferences are also frowned upon strongly.

Further, it seems that (in the states) many minority religions get more respect than Christianity.

Where does this double standard come from?

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55 Answers

monsoon's avatar

I frown on it. And I’m a hispanic lesbian.

monsoon's avatar

But I think the reason is probably that people of color and homosexuals are still actively and systematically being discriminated against as we speak in the United States.

dpworkin's avatar

I’m sorry, but I don’t see that. If anything, Christianity is widely and blithely accepted as the “default” religion here in the US.

Muslim-Americans are often ridiculed, and even physically threatened. I still, as a Jew, experience Antisemitism, albeit more subtly than 50 years ago.

I do see some people objecting to what is sometimes called “Right wing Evangelic Christianity”, but that is much more a political issue than a religious one.

Do you have any data to back up your conclusion, or is it just that you “feel” it to be so?

stratman37's avatar

Why, indeed. Great question! I don’t have the answer either.

Bri_L's avatar

I don’t think anyone should treat people badly. I have read some of your posts regarding religion and don’t always agree with them.

I think it is because people can wrap their heads around those other concepts by way of logic.

That guy is exactly like me internal organs and all right down to his DNA accept for the fact that he grew up in inda. That means he is equal.

That guy likes guys. How does that hurt me? It doesn’t. Here I am. No big deal.

That guy says I will burn for ever in an after life of eternal damnation because I don’t agree that that guy is a sinner for liking guys or because he grew up in India and isn’t a Christian. They say this is true by way of books and writings that were made up of stories passed on by people before the printed existed. I have a problem with that.

I am NOT saying that is you. I am saying there are a few out there who are like that. And a few dopes who let them represent all religious folk as zealots.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Your assumption is based off the input of a few individuals which are not indicative of the opinions of the Fluther collective by default.

PerryDolia's avatar

I think it has something to do with innocence.

A person did not choose her skin color, or choose to be homosexual i know some would argue with this.

But people choose their religions, and as such are responsible for their beliefs. Other people hold different beliefs, and the two immovable beliefs conflict with one another.

There is no excuse for insulting people, even if they believe in absurd things.

Facade's avatar

Maybe because religion is a choice, and people feel they can “insult” people’s choices.

teh_kvlt_liberal's avatar

PerryDolia just nailed it

galileogirl's avatar

Generally people who a

tinyfaery's avatar

There’s a stigma attached to racist and homophobic comments? That’s odd. I hear (and read) them all the time.

PupnTaco's avatar

Short answer: race and sexual identity are innate, religion is a choice.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I’ve been insulted for my religious beliefs, I just assume the insulters are small minded and mean-spirited assholes. The world has its fair share of those kinds of people you know. I may not respect someone’s religious beliefs, or even their religion, but I try not to insult them.

galileogirl's avatar

sorry that was a typo-I was writing the same answer as @PerryDolia and hit the wrong key to exit

marinelife's avatar

If your premise was true, which I don’t accept that it is, I agree with Dave about the reason.

I do not see widespread insulting of people of faith. Where is this widespread insulting?

Jayne's avatar

Religion is a choice and is a very direct reflection of a person’s mentality and character, just like their political affiliation. Regardless of whether it is acceptable to disrespect someone on this basis (no more and no less acceptable than insulting someone on any basis), it is not comparable to race or sexuality.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Because in my experience the extreme religious people are the ones insulting everyone else. Those who insult the extremely religious for that reason do so because they got sick of bigots.

tramnineteen's avatar

@pdworkin (and others) I was not saying that homosexuals and minorities get less or no insults, simply that in groups people don’t seem as likely to get angry at the person mocking a religion than they do if they are making racist comments.

I could be wrong here, I have only ever lived in Portland, OR. I imagine this may not apply in the south and other areas. It does seem to in maybe segments of society. Maybe that is the explanation (that and the valid point about religion being a choice).

This maybe wasn’t the great question I thought it was.

dpworkin's avatar

It is actually a very good question, now that I understand it better. I’m sorry I didn’t read thoroughly enough before.

You may be right, and it should be impermissible. (It seems to be OK to insult people who are overweight, too, I’ve noticed.)

whitenoise's avatar

In my experience, I find it very rare, that Christians are being insulted purely on the fact that they are Christian. Actually, whenever I come to the US, I feel the whole country is Christian and little tolerant of other views. They often feel insulted, however, when their religion is questioned.

My feeling is that Christians quite often feel offended when people don’t share their love for God. Similar to parents being offended when someone else looks at their newborn and says “wow… babies are ugly”. True Christians often love God and love makes one susceptible for insult through rejection by others, of the one you love.

Insult by proxy.

lefteh's avatar

Another possible reason is that Christianity is omnipresent in American society. Those of us who are not Christian are still surrounded by Christian imagery and slogans.
I think that if straight people had to carry around coins that said “In Gay Sex We Trust” there would be a lot more insulting of gays.

tramnineteen's avatar

@whitenoise You may be right but see my reply to pdworkin

Regarding the second paragraph that makes sense. I feel that but try not to get all emotional on people about it.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

Religion is a choice.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@tramnineteen Well… No wonder. Yes, people here in Portland do tend to insult Christians more so than it other places you might visit in the US. I once read somewhere that we have more atheists and agnostics here than anywhere else in the country. Because of that, you’re going to get a lot of opinions coming from the opposite spectrum as Christianity. Not all atheists bash someone for being Christian, obviously, but because there are so many atheists here, you’re also going to get a lot that do.

It’s the same with Christianity. You get a lot of bigots, but there are also plenty of Christians that aren’t bigots. It comes with the territory, no matter what the belief, when you have so many people believing one thing. For the most part, as I said above, I also believe Christians tend to be more acceptably bashed because as others said, people made the choice to believe. And some of the beliefs that come along with Christianity are viewed as inherently immoral by a lot of people – like the fact that homosexuality is a sin and that “dark skin” was created only as a punishment.

Jenniehowell's avatar

Just speaking from my own experience I would say that most often the monotheistic/Abrahamic religions like Christianity tend to so strongly associate themselves as knowing & being members of THE ONE & ONLY TRUTH that they tend to natcissisticly (sometimes without even realizing it) shun all sorts of “others”. In doing this they are so hard-headed & closed to the honoring/respect/cinsideration of the views of others that it becomes quite insulting to those who fall into the category of ‘other’ depending on the day. In addition, because the Christians are the majority & therefore in power in America – combined with the fact they are as a generalized group convinced that they are the enlightened ones with knowledge of the only answer they often feel (or at least show) no remorse with regards to controlling the freedoms of others on a political level or admonishing others for not being of the same belief as they are. At the same time as they often use their religious enlightenment or beliefs to literally vote away the rights of others they also speak quite fearfully & judgementally of other monotheistic/powerful religions such as Islamic/Muslims. Because of all this the ‘others’ feel hurt & out of their pain however wrong they feel justified in treating Christians just as they have been treated by Christians after all if they are truly loving their neighbor as themselves that must be the way they truly desire to be treated. This is based only on my personal observations/experiences not on a complete reality that spans the globe & by ‘they’ I mean Christians & monotheistics in general not specific individuals. I just wanted to be clear that by being candid I intend to express a viewpoint with honest respect for the purpose of open discussion & not insulting in any way.

ratboy's avatar

Disparaging or eradicating competitors is an integral part of many religions. Dispatching missionaries, for example, is a manifestation of such attitudes.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i don’t think it’s cool to insult someone who isn’t doing a thing to you regardless of the case. but i don’t see christianity being looked down upon more so than other religions, since it seems we still have it governing our country to at least some extent…

Ivan's avatar

Seriously? In the US, you are assumed to be a Christian until proven otherwise. There’s a stigma about even being something other than a Christian. Insulting Christians is not accepted.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am sometimes less than respectful because so many christians are like Electrolux salesmen, knocking on my door unsolicited, trying to prove to me how wonderful their product is and my life will be so much better if I embrace it.

Often they are people who live in glass houses and do things that no human should but they go right on preaching anyhow.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I agree with @Ivan, because people in the US are assumed Christian by default. If you do a good deed for a stranger, if you are polite and respectful and treat others as you would have others treat you, you MUST be Christian.

Because everyone knows that atheists are grumpy, mean-spirited, mad at God for some reason, and that they eat Christian fetuses in secret Satanic potluck rituals.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@rooeytoo that answer deserves twenty more lurve points for working the words Electrolux salesmen into the answer. =)

filmfann's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 I disagree. Religion is not a choice, but a calling.
I am a Christian, and often find myself challenged on Fluther by the large number of Atheists here, though I respect their beliefs. I think the question is valid.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Frowned upon or not homosexual slurs are the norm – maybe not here on fluther or where I live in NY, but in a lot of places – places, sadly, that I connect to religion…I don’t insult people based on religion, I insult them based on who they are as people…and if they’re amazing because of their religion, fine…if they’re asses because of their religion, then that’s how it’s going to go…

filmfann's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I am a Christian, and pro-gay rights. Not everyone in my faith is a knucklehead.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@filmfann of course not! as an aside on a religion question I asked most recently, the thread turned into how homosexuality is a sin and it’s okay that there is that temptation but that clearly one must not act on it…why why does it always have to turn to that…

Ivan's avatar


Your religion is a choice in that you were not born with it. It is not something you are genetically tethered to.

filmfann's avatar

@Ivan it was a calling. I was raised in the Church, but I have always felt connected.
My religion has a lot of members with closed minds, and I apologize for that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@filmfann there is absolutely NO reason you should apologize for others who share your religion. like, ever.

Ivan's avatar


So you look at your religious convictions in the same way you look at your skin color?

filmfann's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir There is. I have seen some terrible behavior from people I previously respected.
@Ivan huh? Did I say anything like that?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@filmfann yeah but you are not responsible for them

Ivan's avatar


You keep resisting the word “choice”, even after I’ve explained that I’m using it to mean “not genetically predisposed”.

filmfann's avatar

@Ivan I didn’t feel it was a choice by my definition of the word. If I said my definition of the word AssRammer meant someone who thought out their answer, would you say you were one?

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I don’t have a bumper sticker on my car. I am afraid I will accidentally cut someone off, or just park in an odd way, and someone will look at my car, and say to themselves “fucking democrat”, or Christian, or queerlover.
My Mom saw a car with a bumper sticker that said “Honk if you love Jesus!”, so she honked, and the guy flipped her off. I don’t want to effect peoples opinions by my driving.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@filmfann okay well don’t get a bumper sticker…I am not quite sure how that connects

Ivan's avatar

If it meant not calling myself a kitten-molester, sure. Regardless, I don’t think that’s a fair analogy; if, for whatever reason, you chose to become a Muslim tomorrow morning, you could. You can’t choose to become a different skin tone overnight.

rooeytoo's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – thank you and lurve to you for this line, it is great!!!

“they eat Christian fetuses in secret Satanic potluck rituals.”

And this is unusual, but I agree with @Ivan , religion is a choice, you choose to be religious, to believe, to participate, maybe not when you were a child but as an adult, it is a choice.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@filmfann if you were born to a Christian mother who gave you up for adoption, and the family that adopted you were Muslim, you would now be proclaiming that Islam is your calling, and not Christianity. That is what is meant by choice. I was born white and if I had been adopted by a black family, I would still be white. Skin color is genetic, religion is not. All people are born atheist; religion is learned, and we usually learn it from our parents. Only as adults can we choose to follow which religion we decide is right.

filmfann's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra I don’t think all people are born atheist. Atheism is a belief.
When I was in college, I did study Hinduism, Judism, Catholisism, and lots more isms I can’t spell either. I wasn’t looking for something else, I was curious. I also read Sarte and Nietchze, so I was familiar with nothingness.
I like to think that if I had been born to other parents, I would still be the person I am, but it’s probably not true. I am a product of my parents teachings and guidence. I have a brother and 2 sisters, and we all believe.
That said, my parents have 7 grandchildren, and I think only 4 are religious.

Jayne's avatar

Actually, to contradict my first response, I don’t think that whether or not it is a choice matters, or at least not very much. If people were able to choose their sexuality, would it suddenly be OK to hate homosexuals? No; people have the right to choice, and the choice to love people of the same gender neither affects anyone else nor implies anything in particular about the person’s character. The distinction between insulting homosexuals and insulting religion, I think, is that these things do not necessarily hold for the latter; the religious often infringe upon the rights of or do harm to others on the basis of their beliefs, and religion is such an all-encompassing set of beliefs, so central to a person’s life and mentality that religious beliefs necessarily reflect their character, most notably that they are willing to make their decisions on faith. It is when a trait, whether inborn or voluntary, is directly related to one’s personality, or when it begins to affect others, that it becomes grounds for judgment, not simply when it is known to be a choice.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@filmfann I can totally get with you in that your religion is a calling as opposed to a choice – theoretically we all likely have a true ‘god given’ purpose/path/calling but whether we follow it is in fact a choice & that fact cannot be denied – many choose alcohol or drugs or laziness over following their calling but laziness & inebriation cannot save you from being black or Mexican. In that way your religion is & always will be a choice & unless someone is holding a gun to your head to say different is a cop out for you to give yourself permission to be included in a marginalized group to which you truly don’t belong (thru religion alone) but are choosing to be in. Just my opinion.

Ivan's avatar


“Atheism is a belief.”

Not exactly

Jenniehowell's avatar

What if atheists are following their calling as a part of Gods plan in order to assist in challenging others to become stronger in their faith? Just like in the bible where Peter associates with a gentile against religious law because God tells him to therefore bringing more to God in the end who has the right to judge the purpose of someone else simply because it is against their teachings? Just as Peter & the gentile chose to follow their calling so to is the atheist & to leave them out would be to omit that God is omnicient with His plan for all – it can’t go both ways your life choices are either choices or an omnicient calling

dannyc's avatar

In my world, all insults are unproductive, show lack of debating skills, and are unnecessary. They are equivalent and pointless.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

It does attract a stigma. However, just as there are still many racists, there are certain circles in which it is acceptable to deride religion.

That being said though, the stigma stretches too far in my opinion. There is a stigma attached to noting harmful teachings of certain religions, and a stigma for expressing a preference for one religion over another, both of which should be done freely.

mattbrowne's avatar

It used to be a stigma, but humanity evolved. In many countries today we enjoy enlightenment, critical thinking, secularism which includes freedom of religion. In the past atheists were insulted, even persecuted, which was very wrong. Maybe some atheists think it’s payback time. But most atheists are actually very liberal and open minded never trying to insult anyone.

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