By Diana Hsieh
Is criticism of and opposition to religion a form of bigotry? In its entry on bigotry, Wikipedia claims that a "bigot" is "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one who exhibits intolerance and animosity toward members of a group," and that "bigotry may be directed towards those of a differing sex or sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, region, language, religious or spiritual belief, political alignment, age, economic status or medical disability." I hear the charge of bigotry bandied about, often reflexively, particularly by theists when atheists criticize their faith-based beliefs as irrational. Is open criticism of and disrespect for religion a form of bigotry? Or is "bigotry" a loaded concept to be used by anyone whose belief system is critically challenged?My Answer, In Brief: Bigotry is not holding fast to an unpopular opinion, but rather unjustly attacking people solely due to being members of some group. Criticisms of religion – and of religious advocates and adherents – so long as they stick to the facts (including about people as individuals) are not bigotry.
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A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on voting for third-party candidates, self-interest in parenting, bigotry against religion, and more – is available as a podcast here: Episode of 26 August 2012.
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