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Sacred Exemption Revisited

February 19th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last week I posted some questions on whether religion should be exempt from critique and satirical commentary. My Facebook status update generated some interesting comments. The overall consensus was, yes, religion is fair game for critique, satire and debate. Now in all fairness, I suspect that most of the discussion was generated by folks who are not part of some organized religion. I’d be curious to hear from those who are members of a specific religion.

There were two discussion points that I found particularly poignant. The first was the idea that both the staunchly religious AND non-religious could be equally hostile and stubborn when defending their beliefs. Each side seemingly claims to know a certain truth and will unabashedly vocalize to the other side the folly and error of thinking otherwise.

The second was that there needs to be discussion/debate surrounding religion, especially in light of growing multi-faith societies and ever increasing global connectivity. As a religious scholar, I’ve visited many Web sites of both a religious and secular nature and the comment boards are often the most insightful sections of the site. If many of the comments are an indication of the state of religious discussion in mainstream society, then we’ve got a lot of work to do. Clearly, there are some huge misconceptions and sweeping generalizations that are poisoning these discussions.

As Rabbi Adam Jacobs summed up in his An Open Letter to the Atheist Community “We still have a lot to discuss. Let’s do it with a caring heart, and open mind and a spirit of appreciation for our shared humanity”.

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  1. Mae
    March 12th, 2011 at 07:48 | #1

    @Doug Smith
    I couldn’t agree more. Great links! Thanks for contributing, Mr. Smith :)

  2. Doug Smith
    March 11th, 2011 at 16:00 | #2

    Oh heck, a few more thoughts:

    “Clearly, there are some huge misconceptions and sweeping generalizations that are poisoning these discussions. ”

    Absolutely, I’d like to address one of the major ones here. And, this could be in refrence to one of Rabbi Adam Jacob’s misconceptions also.

    To the larger point of having worth while discussions about the matter, I would suggest this. Please, do not enter a semantics game over word meanings. Further, arm chair philosophical discussions about knowledge or “what we know” are a sure-fire way to, as you say, poison the conversation. Unless, you are just debating for the sake of debating. Some people like that, but clearly we are talking about honest discussion and not debating for the sake of winning.

    Please everyone, learn the definitions of agnostic, gnostic, theist, atheists. See link:


    Hopefully that link works.

    This would be a good start for anyone who is considering entering a discussion. Also:

    -no name calling
    -no references to Santa Clause or FSM
    -no “stawman” arguments
    -no references to genocidal leaders from the past
    -no “True Scottsman” arguments
    …actually, just no using any tired old fallacies of any kind.

    Like I mentioned before about the influence of the internet. On a plus side, it may serve to “flesh” these arguments out, and ultimately destroy their usage.

  3. Doug Smith
    March 11th, 2011 at 15:19 | #3

    Hi Mae,

    Great site, great posts. I’ve enjoyed the reading so far. I wish I had more time to comment.

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