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It is often claimed that ideas based in religion deserve respect simply because of their religious origin rather than because of any inherent merit they may have. It's not clear what the justification for this is.

Levels of Dispute

In order to be clear what constitutes "disrespect", it is important to know what kinds of disagreement we are including within that label.

Any disagreement with religious ideas can be put into one of the following categories:

  1. disagreement, e.g. "I don't believe in god"
  2. mocking, e.g. "god is an invisible friend for grownups"
  3. deliberately offensive, e.g. "your god is a demon worshipped by sinners"
  4. hate speech, e.g. "people who believe in your god should be killed before they taint our children"

While some may claim that all of these levels constitute "disrespect", there really is no justification for including #1 (polite disagreement) in this category. Most of the argument seems to center on whether #2 is appropriate or not.


#1 should always be acceptable in public.
#2 may be socially unacceptable in some contexts, but it should never be illegal.
#3 is unacceptable in civil discussion, but nonetheless should never be illegal.
#4 is a physical threat, and should probably have legal consequences.