There’s a small part of me that resents the concept of religious beliefs, as if some people have thoughts that are more important than my thoughts; which usually involve money and porn. But overall, I accept the idea. After all, these beliefs are supposed to come directly from our creator, which implicitly does make them more important than my own mortal thoughts. Not that I believe in any sort of creator, but I’m willing to accept the premise and don’t disbelieve in any of them, so this is something I’m willing to live with.
But there lies a problem: Once you’ve accepted the premise of religious beliefs, you’re forced to respect EVERYONE’S religious beliefs. Not that you have to believe in them yourself, but you’re stuck with the idea that none of these beliefs are right or wrong, beyond how you personally interpret them. And if you expect people to respect your beliefs, you’re stuck respecting theirs. And then there are the poor suckers like me, who don’t get any special privileges because all our thoughts are mortal, but that’s a separate issue.
And so I find it funny when religious people who expect others to respect their beliefs start tossing issues of morality at the religious beliefs of others. A Catholic wants people to respect his beliefs by banning abortion, yet heaps scorn at a Muslim who keeps his wife hidden behind veils. A Baptist demands that alcohol be illegal, yet scoffs at a Hindu for worshipping cows. And I have a Buddhist Facebook friend (who I really do like) who insists that it's misogynistic for a Catholic hospital to not perform hysterectomies. (I believe that's a position they've now changed, though I'm not sure about that.)
But no, it doesn’t work like that. If we respect the idea that a god or whatever might want things a certain way, then we're stuck admitting that it's not the Catholic, Muslim, Baptist, or Hindu doing these things. It's the god or whatever telling us to do things like that. And hey, who's to say god ISN'T a misogynist? Maybe he really DOES want men to work while woman stay at home, have as many kids as possible, and hide behind veils; and maybe all the feminists are going to Hell. That's up to whoever made us, not us.
And if you blame someone for their religious beliefs, you're basically tossing the entire idea of religion right out the window, and then you don't get to have any religion at all. And so while I think it's logically consistent for atheists to crap on religion and insist that none of these people's beliefs deserve special treatment (an attitude I don't support, btw), religious people are stuck acknowledging that someone else's religious beliefs don't necessarily reflect the views of the person espousing them, but rather, the creator they believe in. After all, if religious beliefs were optional, they'd be pretty damn useless.
Now, that still leaves them room to say that these views are wrong, because they believe in their one true religion. But it does mean you can't blame the person for what they believe. The Catholic Church might be misogynistic, but that's because they think their god wants it that way. You can say their god is wrong, but you can't blame them for repeating the claim. It just doesn't work like that.
If you get to believe in karma, then the Taliban gets to believe that music is evil and Allah loves beards. But once you start thinking that these guys are jerks who are abusing religion as a way of gaining power, then you're already halfway to atheism. And soon enough, you reach the sad conslusion that all your thoughts are mortal thoughts and start reaching for the porn.