Facing a new attack with an international audience playing close attention, religions have as little rational argument in their favour as ever. There was a time when they could deal with dissent through more draconian measures: the kind that can still be practiced in, say, Saudi Arabia. Having lost the power of the gun in the West, apologists of religion have a new weapon: being offended.
Rather than confronting (say) Dawkins’ arguments with counter-arguments, people like Craven, and many others like him, instead cry out: why are you picking on us? All we want is for you to respect our beliefs. And so, the crybaby theists hide behind the demand for respect, which sounds reasonable enough. The more shameless – and their ranks are represented in many religions, such as Muslims, Christians and Jews – complain that when someone criticises their religious faith, the people who belong to that religion are being subjected to abuse.
The bottom line is that such special pleading is a way for theists to avoid answering their critics. The cry that religious beliefs are not being treated respectfully often demonstrates incredible arrogance and hypocrisy.
And an oft overlooked ironic hypocrisy in all of this:
hearing of the need for religious beliefs to be treated respectfully by evangelical Christians is galling. This is a religious faith full of those who believe in the importance of preaching to unbelievers and converting them. Obviously, if they respected the views of atheists and believers in different religions, they would not indulge such practices.