We must respect the religious festivals of other religions to create love and respect among the people of the country.
An increasing source of conflict in the world today is centered around religious believers’ demands for respect. Muslims demand “respect” that would forbid criticism, satire, or mocking of their religion. Christians demand “respect” that would amount to something very similar. Nonbelievers are caught in a bind when it’s not clear what “respect” is supposed to entail and how it is supposed to be achieved. If respect is so important to believers, they need to be clear about what they want.
Respect vs. Tolerance
Sometimes, a person who wants respect is simply asking for tolerance. The minimal definition of tolerance is a state where one has the power to punish, restrict, or make something difficult but consciously chooses not to. Thus I may tolerate the barking of a dog even if I have the ability to stop it. When it comes to non-violent, consensual behavior, religious believers’ demand for tolerance is usually reasonable and should be granted. It’s rare, though, that this is all that is desired.
Going Beyond Tolerance
Respect and tolerance are not synonyms; tolerance is a very minimalist attitude whereas respect involves something more active and positive. You can think very negatively about something you tolerate, but there is something contradictory about thinking very negatively about the exact same thing you are also respecting. Thus, at the very least, respect requires that one have positive thoughts, impressions, or emotions when it comes to the religion in question. This isn’t always reasonable.
There seems to be a popular impression that beliefs deserve automatic respect, and therefore that religious beliefs should be respected. Why? Should we respect racism or Nazism? Of course not. Beliefs don’t merit automatic respect because some beliefs are immoral, evil, or just plain stupid. Beliefs may be able to earn a person’s respect, but it’s an abdication of moral and intellectual responsibility to automatically accord the same respect to all beliefs.