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Susan B.

Well said!
I ultimately feel that people should be judged on their actions (which includes their words--speaking is an act). My respect for them or lack thereof, and the way I treat them, should have nothing to do with what goes on inside their own heads.
However, when it comes to making a decision, where their beliefs will very much affect the outcome of events, I have every right, as well as responsibility, to use my accurate knowledge of their beliefs to make an informed choice.

Michael DePaula

Greta Christina had a great article today on her blog about judging people by their beliefs and the rightness or wrongness of said judgment....

--tracked and commented on

This is an excellent post and one to which I will soon link back to from my blog. You see, I have been struggling recently with a variant of the question addressed here (i.e., can I reject Christianity as irrational and morally repugnant without necessarily being an anti-Christian bigot?). Your post is quite relevant to this discussion and will be of great value in helping me work out a suitable answer.

When you write about judging someone on the basis of his/her beliefs, I think the key (at least from a multicultural perspective) would be to recognize that many of these beliefs are traditional cultural values with which the individual was likely raised. From this perspective, we'd say that there is a difference between judging someone for some random belief they picked up and judging them for a culturally-sanctioned belief system in which they were raised. This is the distinction with which I will continue to wrestle.


That last comment was from me. Not sure why it left my name off.

Michael Meadon

Fantastic post. I've always thought people's beliefs say something important about them.

gruntled atheist

That is an excellent explanation of a very difficult topic. Information passes, it seems, far too easily from relevant to irrelevant and back again. Many hide their true beliefs or cloak them in innocuous phrases. I think your article will be very helpful to me.


Yeah yeah.....its pretty obvious that its impossible to be 'non judgemental' so to speak and in order to operate in the world -people need to 'size up' each other for whatever reason
Using 'beliefs' is a long way around the job, you have to get to know someone to some extent in order to find those things out about them.(at least a couple of sentences in a convo).......or at least reply on second hand judgements and appraisals as per media or this blog ...that's why people (all of us) tend to fall back on the good old Quickie standby of using stereotypes.
This is where it gets a tad tricky...people form a kind of consensus as to what those easily recognisable clues or ques are.
ie. Woman wearing short skirt and smoking a cigarette standing unsteadily on footpath.
How you judge her is more about your value system and your environmental, cultural background. Not hers...

Its funny not haha..that the 'terrorist' is muslim these days...handy isn't it. *groans*

For me....judgements of people using "beliefs" as the term is used here, is probably not the most accurate or efficient. In terms of 'religious' or moral types of belief systems - those things about the individual can be brought and sold like bits of costume jewelry...something to wear so people don't poke around too much to find out who you really are.

Watch out for those BIG hair evangelists...hahaha


Oh..and Um..Identifying the 'values & beliefs" within any documented Political Policy is very useful to establish its usefulness. Its one of the first things to look for...
The general public don't often get hold of that paperwork...but it is possible to find out inconsistencies and whats going on in the background in other ways.

For example:- Obama struts his stuff and 'preaches' the 'we' gospel to unite the US etc etc.... has come up with various political catch phrases 'Yes we can' but his proposed health plan for America is NOT universal.(as far as I know)
In other he acting like a stereotypical politician or a "Mormon" & depends on whatever you make of that. ? & How well you are able to question authority comes into play and whether or not that is one of the individuals primary values.

anyway..Its good to become conscious of how to 'judge' people etc and not buy into the common ol' social niceties that come to stand in the way of that.
fuck the rules! Of course you have the 'right' think for yourself!


Obviously when choosing to vote for someone, you must form an opinion as to their likely actions while in office.

Romney invited people to consider his beliefs, and made it quite clear the way in which his beliefs would influence his actions. He wanted religious conservatives to judge him on the message of those conservative beliefs.

He made an issue of his conservative beliefs. For example, he made some statements about the relationship between belief and freedom. He did it, presumably, to win the favour of a particular group - that is, he asked a group of people to vote based on his elucidation of his beliefs. He cannot them complain that other people also judge him on the same basis!

I don't particularly care that he's a Mormon any more that I care that Kennedy was Catholic or Carter a Baptist; in each case those are part of who they are, but alone it isn't a particularly clear indication of their actions.

What does matter is how he described the effect his beliefs. He invited judgement on that. He got it.

simple z

Nice post. I don't really know on what grounds i judge people. Character is a good word for it, quite abstract.
Deeds, actions, beliefs....

But i think, sadly, for us people,
our instinct probably goes by their looks. The appearance and voice.
Why else would most of us prefer to listen to a guy before listening to a woman (biological instinct)?
It's probably because of the wider shoulders and the non-wining voice.

very few men have a woman as role model.
But many women want to become like a certain man.

Felicia Gilljam

This highlights the need for secularism in the US. In Sweden, politicians don't talk about religion, especially not their own. It might come up in a personal interview at some point but they'd never bring it up in a public speech. Of course, there's a bit of a difference in that we mostly vote for parties rather than individuals, but since the leader of the winning party will become the prime minister, and the party leaders are used as poster children for their parties, so it's at least comparable. And none of them ever talk about their religion - not even the leader of the Christian Democrats! If their opinions and policies are informed by their private beliefs, they at least have the decency not to say this, but defend themselves with reality-based arguments.


Sometimes your blog is eerie; there's this one friend I'm always having conversations with, and then the same day or a day later, you'll post exactly what we were saying, haha. Or I won't have read this blog for a couple days, then I'll have a conversation with him, check back, and you'll have posted the same thing before we had it. Then one day I posted a review of Mistakes Were Made to my personal blog, and you posted yours like an hour later! It's the same thing with this topic. (Needless to say, I agree.)

There's clearly some cosmic stuff going on here.

I'm joking, of course; we just end up talking about a lot of the same things based on news reports, or religion or sex because he's gay and I'm bi. But I have to admit I was thrilled when I read your older posts and I finally found someone who liked Harry Potter more than Lord of the Rings for the same reason I did. And it's also great to see another woman who doesn't particularly want kids and is annoyed by people who are militant about it.

Anyway, I really love your blog. I hadn't given it much focused thought before coming here, but thanks to you I realized that I'm an atheist and I should just call myself one, and I've done more reading up on it.

Keep up the good work.

Christian Bachmann

Good post, but I think you are more on the actions side than on the beliefs side when it comes to judging. Both Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush are re-born Christians. What makes the difference is actions such as decisions about death penalty, other law issues, war in Iraq and other important things. The answer whether beliefs are relevant or irrelevant for my judgment must, and can only rely, on actions.


I like the "content of their character" notion. You can't really be sure of someone's beliefs. But you can listen to what they say, watch what they do, and make your best prediction on how they'll treat other people -- especially someone who doesn't agree with them.

It's not really the list of beliefs, but the relative priorities -- where respect for others ranks on the list.

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