Re: Hate The Religion, Love The Believer

Today I read a religious post titled, Hate The Religion, Love The Believer. It’s a post basically exploring whether you can hate the religious belief and still love the person. So I thought I’d take a whack at it.


The post started off with that meme and asked whether that’s a reasonable position for an atheist or secularist to take.

Atheists have often argued that the Christian slogan to “hate the sin, but love the sinner” is tantamount to their claim to oppose religion but love religious people.  However, I think this would not sit well with me (and many people of faith) because we DEFINE ourselves by our faith, whereas sinners do not define themselves by their sin.

For many devout Christians, she’s right in that they tend to define themselves by their religion. I think that’s why many religious people get offended when an atheist mocks or questions that religion – to them it isn’t just an idea but a part of them.

However, people can define themselves by other ideologies.

For example, for some people their political identity is extremely important to them. Could you love an ardent socialist, communist, Democrat or Republican even if you disagree with their political stances?

I think it fairly obvious that you can.

Actually, I can think of only one type of sinner that defines themselves by their sin, being homosexuals.  So to hate their sin is (to them) equivalent to hating them, the same way Christians feel an attack on their Christian liberties is an attack on them as individuals (as citizens and as humans).

You are trying to conflate a belief with biology. It would be like me trying to equate religious belief with heterosexuality – one is a belief and one is my inherent sexual orientation.

I used to be religious but then I lost my faith. I’m never going to wake up in the morning and find myself sexually attracted to men.

Can you think of other sinners that define themselves by their sin?  Maybe Nazis or the KKK, who define themselves by their hatred and superior feelings against people of colour.  If we hate their sin, can we claim to still love them?

Of course you can and this is a more accurate comparison.

Do you really believe that Nazi’s, Neo-Nazi’s or ardent racists don’t have family members who hate that they think that way but love them nevertheless?

Prisons are full of murderers, rapists and criminals who have loving relationships with spouses or other family members. Some of them are racists and Nazi’s.

She basically confirms this is so in this sentence:


Yeah, and plenty of atheists love their parents, even though they tried to indoctrinate them with hateful religious ideologies, such as the hell doctrine or that homosexuals are abominations or that they are responsible for the sins of their ancestors etc.

She continues with:


You are more than just your religious beliefs. I am more than my political beliefs. People are complex beings and can disagree on a whole host of subjects and still agree on others. We can love and enjoy people we fundamentally disagree with because that isn’t the only thing that defines them.

In fact, I think you can find some of that being proven right here on this blog. There are comments by people on here who I would enthusiastically disagree with on religious matters, but I agree with on other subjects. I can enjoy conversing with them about everything, including their belief in a deity.

A Rabbi who I used to have spirited religious discussions with used to tell me that we should focus on what we have in common, rather than our differences, and that if we did, we’d likely find we have far more in common than we have differences.

I think there was a lot of truth in that.

But regardless, I think you can definitely hate or oppose the religious ideologies someone holds but still love the person.



  1. I agree with you! One of the last comments on my blog under this post drove that point home, and I conceded the point by saying: “We are more than the sum of our sins, or even the sum of our beliefs… We are much more precious than that”.

    It was actually another Christian Brother who made the point.

    While I agree that you can actually hate the belief, while still loving the Believer, my main point is that belief is an identity issue, and so it is hard to separate from the person who holds them, as opposed to sin, which is not an identity issue for the majority of people (the exemption made for homosexuality).

    Sin, like crime, is not a thing to be proud of, yet there are some criminals who are proud to be called theives and thugs and gangsters… They wear it as a badge of honour, and even in those times, we must and we can still love them.

    Cheers, Ufuoma.

  2. I can’t see hating any religion, which at heart is a belief system, not a physical entity–I may disagree with many of them, and some of them scare the wits out of me, but I don’t call that hate.

    I prefer ‘Ignore the religion, embrace the believer anyway. A great many couples do just that.

  3. This person is what I was mentioning before. If the basic premise of a religion is to love others as you love yourself, then why are they talking about it at all? The golden rule, love your brother, and God is love, all defy this attitude.


  4. I agree with you GC, it is possible, plausible, and if “allowed”… everyone can support and protect the sanctity of life while also respecting it even if they have serious disagreements. What do I mean by allowed? If the one/side that has volatile behaviour toward violence or lethal violence for conflict-resolution, then obviously protecting the sanctity of life becomes a matter of life or death… for one or many. Sometimes defending the sanctity of life means taking the life of the (temporarily?) insane aggressor. However, Mahatma Gandhi would strongly disagree with me, but at least we wouldn’t KILL each other over it. 😉

    Now ideologies, such as religions, can be vehemently loathed when they are NOT kept to/on a strictly INDIVIDUAL basis; i.e. proselytizing & forced assimilation of mass numbers, regions, or nations… or much worse, the globe. This sort of global, national, or regional methodology should be refused and if need be stopped, but done so non-violently first if at all possible/allowed.

    That said, personally I have a large amount of sympathy and empathy for brain-washed followers of extreme ideologies or religions as well as those that are aggressive in nature, e.g. all three Abrahamic religions and their offshoots. Why so much sympathy/empathy? I understand the psychology faith or expectation. If you or anyone is interested, then my latest post explains the profound neurology, cognition, pathology, social, and familial influences (to name a few) that form much of human behavior and beliefs, or expectations. Here’s the link:

    Good post GC and I was pleased to read your very last sentence. 🙂

      • Completely agree GC on the unnecessary “taking of life” over ideologies, but sadly it has been going on for several millenia. It is more present even today than many of us wish for. However, take the manifestations of “hate” down a step or two, i.e. the methods, though not violent can be just as insidious over a longer period. The violence of the Abrahamic religions are factual and well documented. Sadly the three teach unambigious intolerance. All three “holy scriptures” are full of instructions of hate and intolerance as they are of virtuous stories & teachings…which ironically IS ambigious. LOL 😛

  5. This was a pretty good article. I agree with you when you said, “you can definitely hate or oppose the religious ideologies someone holds but still love the person”. I personally think part of the problem with christian people is we put to much emphasis on the religion of christianity when we should focus on living like Jesus. Jesus came to show us what the Father is like, and He is love. Jesus did not get offended when others disagreed with him, when they did not believe he was from God and even when they hated him. Jesus loved others, cared for them and had compassion on all people. As christians we should care less about the religious rules, duty and doctrines and live more like Jesus, loving and caring for everyone no matter what their beliefs.

  6. we DEFINE ourselves by our faith

    That has much to do with why religion – including, or perhaps especially Christianity – is so persistent and pernicious. When a collection of falsehoods grab ahold of you and make you their slave… 😦

    I do think we can rightly “love” the believer and hate the belief – at lasts least when the beliefs are false and harmful. As you said, people are more than their beliefs – even if they don’t realize it themselves. But…

    I try to be respectful and compassionate with strangers, but I don’t “love” them – that strikes me as creepy. I think we may have different ideas of what love is – or about what are healthy boundaries, anyway.

  7. I guess I have a different take on this topic because I’m a deconvert who was, and still is, SHUNNED for becoming an atheist. Religious people, many of whom I have loved dearly and shared my life with for 40+ years, have hated on me in a way I could never have thought possible. People call me a “black goat” and “the hand of satan” for turning my back on “the truth.” These same friends and family say I don’t deserve to raise my young child because I will damn his soul by not indoctrinating him.

    The idea that I would ever tolerate the phrase of “hate the sin but love the sinner” is ludicrous. Maybe where you guys live religious people show tolerance, but this is not the truth everywhere. The woman who you are quoting in this post thinks she is hating sin, but she is damn well hating PEOPLE. To say anything less is disingenuous.

    Religious people can be sick as fuck as they hide behind harmful beliefs that have no evidence, and I’m tired of them getting a free pass to “hate the sin but love the sinner.” NO to all of it. Will I personally “hate the belief while loving the believer.” NO. Both the belief and believers who hold them disgust me. Would I wish any harm on them? Never. But neither with I tolerate their outrageous and harmful messages…I will fight tooth and nail with my voice, my keyboard, and my vote.

    Rant over…and a Merry Christ’s Mass to you all!

    No seriously, happy holidays everyone! ❤

    Side note: gc, you did a good job of keep your head, making good points, and being logical while having this discussion. I just tend to be on the wilder side of debate. 🙂

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