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.