Progressive believers often ignore religious differences in the name of tolerance. But this ecumenicalism promotes anti-atheist hostility and shows a disregard for the truth.
Among progressive and moderate religious believers, ecumenicalism is a big deal. For many of these believers, being respectful of religious beliefs that are different from theirs is a central guiding principle. In this view, different religions are seen as a beautifully varied tapestry of faith: each strand with its own truths, each with its own unique perspective on God and its own unique way of worshipping him. Her. It. Them. Whatever. Respecting other people's religious beliefs is a cornerstone of this worldview... to the point where criticizing or even questioning anyone else's religious belief is seen as rude and offensive at best, bigoted and intolerant at worst.
And this ecumenical approach to religion drives many atheists up a tree.
Don't atheists want a world where everyone's right to their own religious views -- including no religious views -- is universally acknowledged? Don't we want a world with no religious wars or hatreds? Don't we want a world where a diversity of perspectives on religion is accepted and even embraced? Why would atheists have any objections at all to the principles of religious ecumenicalism?
Oh, let's see. Where shall I begin?
Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, No, Atheists Don't Have to Show "Respect" for Religion. To find out why on earth any atheist would object to the idea of interfaith respect, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!