‘Pro-Respect’ Religious Video Depicts Atheist Professor Using a Laser Pointer to Commit Battery on a Hindu Student

I don’t know much about the origin of this video that I just came across. Boasting unusually high production values, it’s a slick propaganda piece that was (re?)posted a year ago by YouTube user IndiaEternal under the title “Pakistan MUST watch this video to respect HINDUISM.” But the content is much broader than the old India-Pakistan conflict, addressing the need for religious tolerance across the world.

In the end, oddly, the video doesn’t place the blame for religious strife on believers and their never-ending wars over whose God is better, but instead focuses on godless people like you and me who stubbornly stand in the way of world peace. And it does so by impugning secular higher education with an increasingly popular religious trope: that of an atheist college professor whose God-loving students end up teaching him a lesson.

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The story line goes like this: A shy Hindu seeker, a young woman, takes a class with an angry white college professor (1:41), who is shown to be spiritually confused as he despondently scrawls a big question mark on a notepad when his hifalutin books stop making sense to him (2:55). Enraged by his own faltering rationality, he is seen belittling Hinduism by showing his class a silly cartoon of the goddess Shakti (1:50); later, he insults additional religions by tearing down sheets of paper with religious symbols and tossing them on the floor (3:40).

Then he makes it personal. With a nasty scowl, the professor fixes his stare on the bindi of the Hindu student, deciding to shine his laser pointer between her eyes to mockingly match up his red dot with hers, as if he’s a deadly sniper who wants to blow her brains out (3:17). Cut to a Christian classmate of the Hindu student who slams a fist on his desk and jumps to his feet in righteous anger (see the image above) to demand the atheist professor stop his abuse (4:02). Other pupils then also rise to defy the godless bully. Side note: In the background, we see a copy of Christopher HitchensThe Portable Atheist (4:12), one of the professor’s putative sources of inspiration.

Note how throughout the video, religious people and their rituals are literally shown in warm, golden tones. By contrast, the academic environment is depicted in pale, joyless blues and greens.

If the message of the video is as it seems on the surface — live and let live, different strokes for different folks — no argument here. But of course, the makers utterly fail to extend that proposed courtesy to “mechanists and materialists” (proxy words for non-theists).

The five-minute production is also out of touch with reality because it places the blame for worldwide sectarian violence and religious wars on non-believers like the professor in his classroom, rather than on the seething masses of murderous-but-pious yahoos whose beliefs we are called upon to respect.

The dishonesty further oozes from a throwaway scene (3:47), unconnected to the professor-student plot line, that shows a dejected-looking young man in a prison cell while the voiceover intones

Men without faith are a pretty sorry lot.

As we know, this effort to connect atheists with violent/criminal behavior falls spectacularly flat. Hemant unveiled in a recent post that, among U.S. inmates willing to divulge their religious affiliation, atheists make up just 0.07 percent of the prison population, a much smaller contingent than the percentage of atheists in the U.S. population at large.

Asking for tolerance is like extolling the beauty of orchids. Anyone can do it and no one is ever opposed. Consequently, it’s easy to make feel-good videos about the need for respect and cooperation, as long as we carefully stay on the surface and say the T-word over and over, like a magic incantation.

I do hope the makers of the little film above will forgive me for tuning out when, while they plead their case, they engage in the exact excoriation of otherness that they so devoutly claim to abhor.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • 3lemenope

    When a person’s predilection to RANDOMLY capitalize words IN their online COMMUNICATIONS reaches even into the TITLES of their POSTS and THEIR videos, it’s a little warning bell: THIS person has some ISSUES with speaking in a measured WAY, and this MIGHT indicate a difficulty in THINKING about said issues with any SORT of perspective.

    It’s also really, really, really annoying.

    • Terry Firma

      While I generally agree with you, I don’t think you can use HTML in YouTube titles, so capitalizing words for emphasis doesn’t seem as annoying there.

      Of course, even if that title were properly capitalized — “Pakistan must watch this video to respect Hinduism” — it still would be logically wrong on several levels.

      • 3lemenope

        Good point. Still, I think the structural restriction against HTML tags has a positive side-benefit in depriving most tools that people could use to make their headlines more aesthetically annoying. I mean, my FSM, can you imagine HTML-enabled headlines on teh YouTubes? Wait, you don’t have to imagine, just remember Geocities. [scarechord]

        Blinking text…O, the humanity….

        • Terry Firma

          Exactly.

    • baal

      Reading the random caps feels like so much lurching.

  • LesterBallard

    Jesus Fucking Allah, Ganesha, Yahweh Christ, give it a rest.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    This is a video that could well have been produced by Big Brother. Very slick, but mainly bullshit.

    It is wrong to blindly respect the religious beliefs of others, just as it is wrong to blindly respect any beliefs. There is nothing wrong with attacking and attempting to tear down the religious beliefs of others. Indeed, many of us feel an ethical obligation to do so. There is nothing “sorry” about people without faith; they are the ones who have found a reliable path to knowledge. It is those with faith that are damaged, that we should seek to change.

    We should respect the right of people to hold their religious beliefs, and to choose faith despite its failure. But we need neither respect the beliefs, nor the people themselves.

  • WalterWhite007

    ‘The right to believe as one chooses’…ummm..I think most of us are ok with that except that those that believe in absurd things like to use their beliefs as motive for telling the rest of us how to live. It creeps into politics and education policies all the time. The religious just expect those of us that don’t believe in their silliness to just respect it anyway and let them have their way. The ‘teacher’ in the video seems more like a hard core christian or other religious fanatic. Most of the intolerance to religion that has caused conflict come from other religious people. I don’t know of any atheist that acts like that.

    • Randay

      One can accept the right of people to believe what they choose–though “choose” is not the word I would use–but no one else including me has to respect whatever nonsense they believe. Respecting someone else’s beliefs is disrespecting your own.

      • WalterWhite007

        I agree, that’s why I didn’t say I’d respect what they believe. If ‘they’ don’t tell me what they believe then I don’t have to make a choice to respect it or not. I don’t respect any beliefs based on spirits, myths, gods, religion etc. One of my main peeves is that most religious people do not choose their belief system. In fact, the majority of the ‘faithful’ only believe what their parents do; no choosing done at all.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Men without faith are a pretty sorry lot.

    Is that like a poor man’s “The fool says in his heart, there is no God.”? If so, somebody’s been cribbing off somebody else.

    BTW, Terry, bad post title. I thought it was an actual video of an actual teacher shot by an actual student. But it’s fictional propaganda, instead.

    • Terry Firma

      The word “depicts” should have given it away. Definition: “show or represent by a drawing, painting, or other art form.” Therefore, staged, fiction, not an actual event.

  • WalterWhite007

    ‘Believe as one chooses’ is a ridiculous message and contrary to what the guy in the video says logic and reason easily show most minutiae of religious belief is nonsense just like this video.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    This is why I will continue to be very active on the board of my local interfaith council, despite objections from both some religious people and some atheists. If various faiths want to unite by focusing on a “common enemy,” that being atheists, I will be there to contradict their ugly portrayals of us, not just by my words, but more importantly by the long record of my behavior.

    • Collin Foster

      Well put, Richard. Attending interfaith council is something I’ve never thought of, what a brilliant idea.

    • CottonBlimp

      It’s why I’m suspicious of “interfaith” and ecumenicism in general. “All the world’s biggest religions working together towards a common cause” sounds to me like the Legion of Doom. I’m much more inspired by Lex Luthor teaming up with Brainiac to kill Superman.

      • quasibaka

        Imagine a Pope , an Ayotollah and a Maharishi enter a room …..

        • Spuddie

          But only one gets to leave Thunderdome!!!!!!!!!!

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

      i suppose there is some value in that. but i will say that i don’t believe that if we have a violent theocratic political moment here, those will be the people behind it. the reactionaries neither hear nor care about sensible arguments for understanding and tolerance. to them we simply are “the enemy” and must be destroyed. they make up a larger portion of the religious and drown out the ‘moderate’ believer voice.

  • WingedBeast

    “Just remember to respect all peoples… except atheists and nonbelievers, they’re okay targets.”

  • JimAido

    And that student’s name? Albert Einstein!

  • Art_Vandelay

    If religious people think that belief is simply a matter of choice, they’re basically admitting to intentional self-deception. I don’t choose my beliefs and if I did I’d be fucking immortal too. I have no control over the experiences and observations I have about the world and I certainly have no control over the way that my brain processes those experiences and observations in order to draw conclusions about reality. If not being so narcissistic as to think that I have the power to just believe something into existence makes me a sorry lot…so be it. If religious people really thought that their “beliefs” had any merit whatsoever, they wouldn’t have to keep whining about people disrespecting them. As far as harassing people for their beliefs…that almost always comes from people of other faiths.

  • Ashley N.

    Propaganda is, as it always has been, utter crap. Only the weak minded fall for it.

    • baal

      “Only the weak minded fall for it”
      Neuroscience says otherwise.
      You’re also forgetting enlightened self interest. If all you see is propaganda (or say a government supporting just 1 religion), then you can rightly infer that if you’re out of step with the propanganda, you will be targeted.

      • UWIR

        You seem to not understand what the term “enlightened self-interest” means.

        • baal

          Hrm. My usage is normal (maybe ironic?) but you have a point now that I look up the wiki meaning, “to help others in order to help yourself”. Supporting religion doesn’t help everyone. I should have used something like “Machiavellian self interest.”

  • NewEnglandBob

    The video is complete foolishness. The makers of the video have no understanding of the difference between tolerance and respect. Tolerance should be given by everyone, respect means to be earned.

  • Rain

    “Pakistan MUST watch this video to respect HINDUISM.”

    Very effective video. Now I respect HINDUISM, and I’m not even from Pakistan.

    • 3lemenope

      LOL

  • R Bonwell parker

    What I’ve noticed frequently in anti-atheist propaganda is that they depict atheists as telling people “if you disagree with me, you can leave. I won’t listen to a word you say.” The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of atheists are former religious folk who lack that stubborn character and “find” atheism later in life. It’s literally their tolerance for other viewpoints that leads them to atheism.

    There are atheists who are abusive and intolerant towards religious folk, but what religious folk don’t notice is that those people are also abusive and intolerant against fellow atheists. They’re just abusive, intolerant people, no matter what their religion.

    • Terry Firma

      Wonderful description in your first paragraph. I never looked at it like that.

    • Jeff Walker

      intolerant of the harm religion causes? you can count on it.

    • UWIR

      There are several different things going on here. Theists are so wrapped up in their privilege that they interpret challenges to that privilege as oppression; if atheists want the government to be neutral towards religion, theists present that as atheists “imposing” their beliefs on others. Atheists have already heard pretty much all the arguments theists have, and aren’t interested in heaving them over and over again, but that’s interpreted as arrogance. Theists notice atheists that are obnoxious, but don’t notice the ones that are respectful. And since atheists that are quiet don’t get noticed, they have to be assertive (interpreted as obnoxious) for people to pay attention to them.

  • islandbrewer

    Ah, I see their problem. They didn’t get Kevin Sorbo to play the atheist professor.

    … and that Hindu woman was Einstein!

    I’m not confusing my memes again, am I?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Here’s the comment I wrote on the YouTube site, not that anyone will read it among the currently more than 600 comments:

    “Beware of any attempt to unify two groups by focusing on a third group to be a “common enemy,” and a scapegoat. In the long run, that tactic results in far more evil than what the two groups were formerly doing to each other. This propaganda film portrays a recently popular stereotype, the “evil, mean, atheist college professor.” It’s a cheap shot, a straw man, and not worthy of consideration by thoughtful religious people. Don’t fall for it. Come to respect each other by your own willingness to do so, not by focusing your disrespect on a new and shared target.”

  • jdm8

    OK. But how does one respect such an obvious straw-man? That character’s an obvious dick. Dicks aren’t the province of any particular belief or non-belief. But telling us that people that don’t believe in any religion are dicks because they don’t believe is just wrong. That also implies that if you have religion, you’re probably not a dick, and that connection is wrong too.

  • mysticl

    The atheist professor in the video is an asshole … but this whole video is ridiculous … it proposes that we should treat ALL faiths with respect but the video seems determined to show us “atheists” that we are a very sorry lot indeed … how is THAT for some tolerance of different views … or is it tolerate all religious views except for those lousy atheists … we don’t want THEM anywhere near all us good religious folk …

    • Fallulah

      Aren’t you just STUNNED by their self-righteous hypocrisy! I know I am. *eye roll*

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    It’s interesting that all the religious buildings that the Hindu girl looks at while driving around are in the Los Angeles area. I have seen almost every one of those.

    I have no idea what that fact says about who made this misguided attempt at establishing respect through hating someone in common, but maybe that’s a partial explanation for the high production values. There are lots of underutilized film talents and resources here.

    • Jason Hinchliffe

      Interesting, because we also know LA is also a bastion of moral and spiritual purity.

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        LOL! (ahem) I mean, Hey! Show some respect for the town that gave you Baywatch, Battlefield Earth, drive-through cosmetic surgery, and vegan/Mexican/Chinese/Russian soy yogurt e-pizza delivered by quadcopter drones.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Hey! Quadcopter drones are pretty badass!

  • A3Kr0n

    What’s the charge officer?
    Assault with 600 nm coherent photons.
    What’s the punishment?
    Death.

    • The Captain

      “You hit me with some Photons. Help! Assault! Assault! Someone quick arrest the sun for Battery!”

  • Jason Hinchliffe

    Now I want religion. All that dancing in the sunlight looks just irresistible!

  • calesuar

    I think the lesson the video producers wanted to convey was: Birds of a feather who hate together those who make fun of them for believing hateful bullshit flock together.

  • Fallulah

    I’ve had about enough of these straw man videos!! I think we should go on CNN spouting about a “War on Atheism”…and start making our own strawman videos on Christians, Hindus, etc…only problem there is, they are already so outrageous, any hyperbole would look too realistic!

  • HK

    It looks less to me about a promotion of tolerance and more of a call to arms against a ‘common enemy,” poorly discussed as tolerance. Demonizing a group to a bunch of other groups wreaks of manipulative intent for an end goal of victory. They did(very bluntly) compare atheists as a whole to Nazis, The Crusades, the whole prison population(that only needs to be converted to be cured), along with all the other mass killings of groups throughout the ages.

    They put that violent imagery in your head and then make atheists the point of interest as the epitome of intolerance and hopeless emptiness. After this they call for the religiously minded to stand up in opposition to atheism and the scientifically minded as a whole in such a way that, by the end of the video, it feels as if your life might depend on it.

    And if this honestly is about tolerance(it isn’t): As atheists have been quietly tolerating this bullshit for hundreds, likely thousands, of years(as is being depicted by their references to religious intolerance fueled blood shed throughout history) I think the religiously minded might be better off taking advice from them instead of fellow believers.

    • HK

      TLDR:

      They’re saying “We should tolerate each other long enough to defeat intellectualism and Athiesm.” It’s a call to arms, not a call for global tolerance.

  • atom the atheist

    I believe Hemant mentioned the prison Atheist pop. as 0.21% ?not .07, I may be wrong ? Next to the christian & muslims ,thats what? 1 out of 3,000! We must all convert to the most humanitarian religion of Atheism, declare our rights & get our tax breaks ! E pluribus unum(for u.s.a. only) pay homage to his noodly appendage, R’amen.

    • Gehennah

      To be fair, the atheist prison population is probably slightly higher than reported due to an outed atheist in prison may suffer consequences and have a harder time getting parole than one “of god” but I still doubt it’s close to the percentage of atheists in the US (which I also think is under reported for similar reasons).

      • Boommach

        Also, there are religious programs that can offer a modicum of freedom. Liars will say anything to gain that freedom.

        • Terry Firma

          Hemant made those exact caveats. The numbers he presented are not perfect, but they’re better than anything we had before Hemant filed his FOIA request and published that post.

          • Boommach

            They are not perfect. They are numbers. They are meaningless.

            • 3lemenope

              That escalated quickly.

            • Mario Strada

              Yes, tell terry that his numbers are not perfect! Go ahead!

              Wait, that’ what he said too. Do you do this often? Berate people for affirming things you agree with?

    • Terry Firma

      “I believe Hemant mentioned the prison Atheist pop. as 0.21% ?not .07, I may be wrong?”

      Yes, you’re wrong. I sourced that 0.07 percent, providing the link to the article that Hemant published this summer. It addresses exactly your misconception. Read it, please, it’s an eye-opener.

    • Brodestar

      0.21% or 0.07% does that really make a difference? Even if the real number was 1% of all inmates in the U.S. were atheists that would still be a shocking low number compared to the 74% of Christians behind bars. Are not Christians supposed to be “good” people where atheists are supposed to be “bad” people? The numbers paint a clearly different story.

  • Glasofruix

    Cut to a Christian classmate of the Hindu student who slams a fist on
    his desk and jumps to his feet in righteous anger (see the image above)
    to demand the atheist professor stop his abuse

    How is it possible that i can only envision a real world scenario of “rightful” christians insulting the hindu girl of terrorism and calling her a muslim, because all brown people must be commie muslims, right?

  • These Atheist

    This video is an attempt to prevent new ideas from rocking the boat… Established ideas don’t like to be rocked or accommodative of newer ideas…

  • Brodestar

    “Atheist” the dirty word of this age where everybody who is one is responsable for everything bad in this world according to some theists. Where have we seen this before? Lets see jews were considered bad people in Hitler’s time. Lets not forget he was catholic. Christians were considered bad in the Roman Empire and were thought of being responsible for what was going on through out the empire. These are just 2 examples of the ruling class, in this case theists in general, passing the blame on to those that are not even the least bit responsible. If you look back in history you will find that religious people were responsible for almost all, if not all, major wars and mass genocides since the dawn of humanity on this planet. The same can not be said of atheists.

    • kickinitincrik

      What?!? The same cannot be said for atheists? I’m sorry but historical fact is not a matter of opinion. If you’re going to play that game then it’s quite easy to demonstrate that atheist rulers have been the most murderous in recent history – by far. Pick four random atheist rulers from the last century and chances are two of them were mass murderers. A materialistic universe unfortunately renders humans as mere material. Simple history and simple logic.

      • Artor

        Bullshit. Here’s the results of 5 seconds Googling:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_in_politics_and_law

        Please note the scarcity of people accused of war crimes, let alone the mass murder you accuse them of. The only way to make your statement even vaguely true is by gratuitous cherry-picking. Lemme guess: your list is Mao, Stalin, Lenin & Hitler?

        • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

          Even if it is, Hitler was a confessed Christian and Lenin was dead during most of the U.S.S.R.s atrocities.

          • Artor

            Yeah, I know, but most people who make that argument don’t, and tie themselves in knots insisting that Hitler was an atheist, despite his own repeated words on the subject.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Most of them go with Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao :P

        • kickinitincrik

          Most on that list were not presidents, kings or rulers but there were some obvious mass murderers on it who actually fit the category of ruler. Looking at the first names on that list most of them were actually mass murderers, such as the Chinese dictators, Mengistu of Ethiopia, etc. We could include others such as Ho Chi Mihn the freaks from North Korea, the murderous rulers of Mongolia and Romania from the mid 1900s. Sure, most of these Atheists were radical socialists but it seems that’s sort of a default position with atheists – someone’s gotta take God’s place.

          • Artor

            Great, now you’ve opened up the field enough I can start listing religious mass-murderers. The list is going to be HUGE! I’ll start with the explicitly Xian ones. Are you ready?

          • Brodestar

            What you and most christians dont understand is that nothing takes “God’s place” in the heart and minds of almost all atheists. To atheists there is no “God” of any kind let alone yours and never was so there is nothing to replace. Yes atheists such as Stalin and Mao did some very deplorable things but they did not do them because they were atheists. They did them because they bought into the dogma of Marxism and the totalitarian nature that the dogma teaches. The fact that they were atheists in case is irrelevant. Please point out 1 atheist who participated in, condoned, or ordered the deaths of people simply because they didn’t believe in a “God”.

            • kickinitincrik

              What you don’t understand is that atheism is insufficient. It cannot operate alone. For someone like Mao, atheism was not enough but it was necessary. In order to use humans as a means to an end there has to be a devaluing of human life – atheism allows for human life to be objectively valueless and in some cases problematic (radical environmentalism). Atheism also allows for a broader spectrum of immorality. I’m not saying atheists have no morals. What I’m saying is that if there is no intrinsic morality for an atheist and that there are less moral constraints on an atheist than a theist. If Mao was religious his policies may have been drastically different since human life wasn’t his to eliminate and the idea of God would’ve at least given him pause.
              You are comparing atheism to a worldview. It doesn’t have the necessary components to function as one. It’s like a vacuum or a parasite. It can only attach itself to a worldview but cannot function alone as one. The beauty of a parasite is that it can always blame its host – it’s always attached.

              • Brodestar

                It is you that is confusing atheism with world views such as Marxism. Atheism is a personal belief not a world view and nothing in my statement suggests otherwise. There is no telling if Mao or Stalin were religious that their Marxist world views would have been any different which is why the fact that they were atheists is irrelevant. If religious people are supposed to value life more than atheists do then why did Moses order the deaths of 3000 of his followers simply for building an idol to him and worshiping it? Nowhere in the bible does it say they denounced “God” just that they disobeyed a commandment that they didn’t even know about until after they built it. That doesn’t sound fair to me. Does it to you?

          • Anna Marin

            How many of them were Humanists?? Cause most atheists I know are Humanists.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        You sort of forgot all the atheist or at least secular leaders in Europe, didn’t you?

        I suggest you also look at all the totalitarian governments in history. Pick any random four, and likely none of them will be atheist. That is because your test is a meaningless one.

        Simple history and logic tells us that totalitarian governments, whether explicitly theocratic or explicitly atheist, suck.

      • Brodestar

        I would like you to name 2 atheists and the war crimes you say they are guilty of. It doesnt take a scholar or historian to find a religious leader commiting, condoning, or ordering the killing of people. You dont have to look past the book of Exodus in the Bible to read about 2 of them. Whats really sad is neither are condemned for their acts.

      • Gus Snarp

        The history of man is one of war and genocide, particularly up until the twentieth century. It is also a history of religions. The vast majority of world rulers prior to 1800 were religious. The vast majority of them fought wars of conquest and genocide, particularly the successful ones. Religion has been behind the power of every king and emperor of Europe and the Middle East for centuries. And they’ve slaughtered millions. The Bible outright commands its followers to commit genocide, to slaughter the men and boys and rape the women of conquered people. That’s the Biblical God’s command to his chosen people. You don’t get to pick a brief historical period in which atheism was associated with a particularly despicable totalitarian philosophy and claim that atheism is responsible for more violence. It’s very convenient for you to pick “recent” history for your example in response to a post describing the scope of human history, but it’s fallacious.

        • kickinitincrik

          Recent history demonstrates the failure of the atheistic assumption that if we purge religion from the earth we’ll get a utopia. I only demonstrate this when religion (specifically) Christianity is unfairly pegged as a religion of war. Please use the warlike nature of Christ and his words to make your point – otherwise your points are flawed and they miss the bigger issue. Again, explain how Christ forced compelled Christians to kill. If you can’t then you’re just upset that Christians aren’t following Christ as they should – which is, by the way, a cultural predisposition that you inherited from him. Humans kill humans – regardless of whatever creed they claim to follow. The world was a much bloodier place before Christianity appeared. Christianity tamed the pagan world and gave you a civilized one of which you’re privileged to be a part of. The North Koreans see Christianity as inherently evil – why don’t you go join their club.

          • John

            What Christ ostensibly said is irrelevant in this situation. What the religion may or may not have originally meant is less important than what its followers today actually do.

            • kickinitincrik

              So you’re admitting that it’s Christians that are not following Christ who can be a problem. I guess we agree.

          • Gus

            Very few people, if any, would actually claim that getting rid of religion would lead to a utopia. We just think things would likely be a little bit better if people stopped taking religion so seriously.

            On the other hand, Christians routinely claim that believing in God not only makes people more moral, but is necessary for moral behavior. In fact, many religious people will even claim that virtually any religious belief makes people more moral.

            All we have to do is demonstrate that religious people are not more likely to behave morally than atheists, not that atheism will lead to utopia, because that’s not the case we’re making. We don’t claim the moral high ground, so we don’t have to defend it. Christianity does.

            The world was a much bloodier place before Christianity appeared. Christianity tamed the pagan world and gave you a civilized one of which you’re privileged to be a part of.

            Citation sorely needed. The Roman empire tamed the pagan world and gave us a civilized one, long before Christianity. So did the Greeks. China was far more civilized, for a very long time, than most of the Christian history of Europe. If you really think the constant warfare of medieval, Christian Europe was less bloody than the Pax Romana, or the Roman Empire even before the Pax Romana, you’re utterly clueless about history.

            The civilized world I’m so privileged to be part of is very much the product of the enlightenment and its rejection of fundamentalist religion and theocracy.

            The North Koreans see Christianity as inherently evil – why don’t you go join their club.

            What are you, twelve?

            • kickinitincrik

              You missed my point. I didn’t say atheists cannot be moral. I said they have no absolute standard for their morality. It might help to see an atheist as a hindu atheist or a christian atheist or a marxist atheist – depending upon what morality they adhere to.
              The Pax Roman was a hiccup. A strange dead calm in a violent world. The term was created to describe an unusual time period in history. I don’t think the Jews in 70AD would agree with your assessment of Rome or the Celts around the same time period. One Celt wisely observed that Rome’s peace was that of a graveyard. They decimated everything around them. What about the Greeks do you like? The pedophilia, slavery, infanticide, domestic abuse? I’m not saying that Rome and Greece contributed nothing – but what they lacked was fulfilled in what would come out of Jerusalem. China, likewise has always been oppressive.

  • Whitney

    I think what bothers me the most about this video is the lie toward the end: The idea that all faiths will ever unite over anything and then go out of their way to protect one another.

    That’s not going to happen. Ever. There are so many reasons for this it’s dizzying to even contemplate. Pretending it will happen is good drama, but it’s also a fiction of the worst sort: The idea that religion can or will, of itself, ever solve anything.

  • Guest

    The video seems to be linked to, or endorsed by Scientology.

    The logo at the end is the Road to Happiness Foundation (Fundacion El Camino a La Felicidad).

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=162711670410959&set=a.162711450410981.50278.162709240411202

  • Billy

    The video was produced by Scientologists. The logo at the end is their “Way to Happiness” emblem, for third-world mission work.

    http://www.facebook.com/TheWayToHappinessBook

    http://www.thewaytohappiness.org

    • Gus

      That explains so much. Scientology does love to wrap its dangerous cult in a cloak of respectability by talking about religious tolerance in general. And they have good reason to dislike a scientific worldview, since they make so many claims that are so easily disproved by scientific experiment.

      Meanwhile, I guess they’re not trying to undermine anyone’s belief when they go out into the world to try to convert people to Scientology? I guess simply teaching scientific fact and being willing to criticize bad religious ideas is somehow worse than trying to trick people into abandoning their faith to join your cult through abusive and manipulative techniques?

    • Don Gwinn

      Yup. There was something about the phrase “intolerance is a non-survival activity” that just pegged the Hubbard-meter. But I’d never heard of the “21 Precepts” or “The Way to Happiness” before, so there’s my new thing for today.

  • The UnFriendly Atheist

    For those still wondering about the origins of this video, it is one of the many promotional videos highlighting each one of the 21 moral precepts listed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in his booklet “The Way to Happiness”. The narration in this video is a reading of the 18th chapter titled “Respect the religious beliefs of others.”

    http://www.thewaytohappiness.org/thewaytohappiness/precepts/respect-the-religious-beliefs-of-others.html

    • Kate Hetfield

      From the site: “Men without faith are a pretty sorry lot. They can even be given something to have faith in. But when they have religious beliefs, respect them.” Only people with religious belief deserve respect! Didn’t you know?

    • Randay

      That is funny because some of the chapter titles are: Do not steal, Do not Murder, Don’t do anything illegal, Be temperate. They are all things Scientologists do except the last. If you look up any number of YT videos of Scientologists interacting with critics or documentary makers, you will see that they lose their temper repeatedly–or rather pretend to. Of course they are trained to do this to try to get a reaction from their opponent which they then use in their propaganda.

      Try xenu.net and the BBC documentary from Panorama.

      • ZeldasCrown

        Well, without reading the chapter or looking too much into it, ‘be temperate’ could possibly refer to temperance, or abstaining from alcohol, rather than to be even tempered. To be temperate is to be moderate, but moderate in regards to what, I can’t say from the chapter title alone.

  • Georgina

    I am willing to show respect to people who show me respect. Mutual tolerance is a little harder when they use their ideologies to harm children.
    So how can I respect a religion which believes me to be evil, inferior or just plain worthless? That is not respect or tolerance, it is masocism.

  • Mick

    I can understand the fanatical theists telling stories like this. They will say and do anything to convince others that they are the privileged few.

    What annoys me is that not many liberal theists have the courage to tell the fanatics to ease up, even though they know it’s a nonsense story. They seem to go along with the idea that the ends justify the means: Let the fanatics spin their silly yarns because, who knows, they might actually win some undeserved advantages for religion – and that would be great for all theists, including liberals.

  • JohnnieCanuck

    So the motivation for this video is Scientology rallying round all the established religions to get them to join with them in defeating disbelievers?

    They really, really want to be included with the big kids in the delusion games, it would seem.

    Well, at least this will not make my respect for them fall lower. It’s already at zero.

  • Kate Hetfield

    How can I respect religion when just the very basis of atheism is offensive to religion. “I don’t think what you think is real” is offensive to most people. I definitely think people have the right to believe what they want, but I absolutely cannot think that what they think is real. It may be real to them sure. If they receive benefit from it that is great. More power to them. I don’t say that I think they’re deluding themselves of course, but I do think it. That very notion I have these thoughts is offensive to them I guess.

  • Gus

    I really don’t understand why people seem to take so much pleasure from beating up on straw men. Nor do I understand why they don’t see that creating such utterly false, completely negative stereotypes is spreading hate.

  • Gus

    Yeesh, that was awful. The bit that stood out to me was when the voice over tells us that seeking to undermine or attack the faith of others is a road to trouble, while the video depicts scenes of what appears to be Nazi violence. As so often happens, they’re conflating attacking faith with attacking people. Your faith, your beliefs, your ideas are all open to criticism, even with the goal of undermining them. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do that, but it is not the same as jackbooted thugs beating people in the street.

  • Barlingwood

    it comes from a wesbite called thewaytohappiness dot org it seems to be some sort of new age religious group.

  • Glenn Boyce

    It looks like atheists are beginning to strike a nerve. That someone is so concerned about our influence as to produce a high-quality video denouncing us is in my view a good thing! The forces of faith are feeling the heat….


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