Is Rationalism Bigoted?

Today is Draw Mohammed Day and all of the uproar from the Islamic world has made me want to examine why most atheists, myself included, have no problem offending people because of their religion. Most of us would be appalled by anyone making offensive comments based on race or sexual orientation, but do not see any hypocrisy in verbal attacks against people based upon their beliefs.

Do I see this as a contradiction? Not at all. For one simple reason: Religion is a choice.

People cannot choose their gender, race or sexual preference. These are things that we are born into. They are innate. Your religion, your system of beliefs, however, are completely your choice.

If a person were to say, “I believe the earth is flat and it sits on the back of a purple dinosaur named Barney,” no one would think twice about ridiculing him. No one would call me a bigot for telling the holder of such a belief that he was a complete and total imbecile. In fact, it would probably be expected of me.

Consider that the same amendment of the constitution that guarantees the freedom of religion – the freedom to believe whatever you wish – in the very next breath guarantees the freedom to ridicule those very beliefs.

I do not have the right to tell you that you cannot believe in a magical sky-daddy god or even a purple dinosaur carting around a big, flat planet. But I am constitutionally guaranteed the right to point and laugh and ridicule you if you do.

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