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What does "respecting other people's beliefs" actually mean?

(308 Posts)
Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 08:42:14

I am often told I should - and I have been told that I haven't. But I genuinely don't know what it means.

I am a great believer in good manners, and I would always be polite if I was attending some sort of faith based event. I never go on prayer threads. I do try never to be rude. But the threshold for "disrespect" seems extraordinarily low- sometimes mere disagreement seems unacceptable.

Also, what constitutes a "belief"? The major world religions- OK- I get that. But do I also have to respect "new" religions made up in the 1970s/80s? Kabbalah? Is homeopathy a belief? If I say, for example "homeopathy is discredited bollocks and this is why" is that a public service or disrespecting someone's beliefs? Is astrology a "belief"?

Atheism isn't a belief system, obviously, but am I entitled to be offended and report the post if someone says that atheists lead empty lives devoid of joy? Or if someone says that science is evil and devoted to hiding the evidence for the paranormal/ the cure for cancer/whatever for it's own selfish ends?

deepbluetr Tue 10-Jun-14 09:04:23

I don't necessarily respect other people's beliefs, I disagree with lots of them and consider some barbaric.

I do respect other people and their right to hold beliefs, but I don't always respect them.

Some people believe in fairies, I don't need to respect that . Same with god.
If someone tells me I am going to heel then that is rude and offensive.
I don't lower my head in church.

MissThang Tue 10-Jun-14 09:07:53

I think it's not being obnoxious to others with different views or trying to debate constantly with people. A person of faith can't always just convert an atheist, similarly an atheist can't just convert a person of faith to disbelief. It's just respecting others as humans I think.

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 09:14:01

Good questions, Hakluyt. I'd be interested to see the answers, too.


If we can say "homeopathy is discredited bollocks and this is why", can we also say "energy healing is discredited bollocks and this is why" without being told that is disrespectful of the self-proclaimed 'energy healer' MNer?

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 09:24:15

Homeopathy is discredited bollocks and this is why [insert choice of large numbers of properly conducted trials here]

Disrespectful? If so, what should I say?

JustGrrrrrreat Tue 10-Jun-14 09:38:21

Homeopathy is largely bollocks would be a correct statement here. It is not all discredited bollocks though. St Johns Wort performs well in clinical trials. The main ingredient in asprin is derived feom willow bark and penecillin is derived from mould. Each would have, at some point, fallen under the umberella of homeopathy.

Anyway I digress. Respecting others is, in my opinion, just a matter of not shiyting on others chips unless you have to.

ie. I Believe in a GOD. - appropriate response. I dont, but I respect that we are all entitled ti our own beliefs.

I believe that the earth was created 4000 years ago, in lile with biblical timings - that is proven bollocks and spreading that myth os both factually 8ncorrect and harmful. (Ie these chips need shitting on)

gruffalocake2 Tue 10-Jun-14 09:39:43

I think respect should be thought of as a verb 'doing word'. It involves really listening to what others have to say even if you would like to write it off/belittle it/think it's a load of rubbish. You can continue to disagree but you should try and understand where the other person is coming from, why they might have a different view to you and what the actual content of their belief is rather than presuming you know what they think/believe already and putting them in your preconceived box.

I think that is respect and it needs to be an ongoing process. Most people seem to use respect as an abstract. 'I respect you' but I'm not going to listen to you, care about what you think, I'll rubbish your ideas etc....I don't think that is respect at all.

JustGrrrrrreat Tue 10-Jun-14 09:41:59


I think my bruises will heal quicker if I use arnica - whatever helps you...

These herbs will cure cancer and you dont need other treatment - that is utter bollocks and is harmful (life threatening and potentially a criminal offence to perpetuate!) And needs challenging

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 09:42:04

Justgreeeeat- sorry, to respectfully correct you. Homeopathy is all bollocks. Herbalism isn't.

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 09:43:38

JustGrrreat - I think you are confusing homeopathy with herbal medicine.

Asprin and penicillin would not have been called 'homeopathy' at any point since their discovery, unless they were diluted millions of times to the point that there is maybe 1 molecule of them in a sugar pill.

CoteDAzur Tue 10-Jun-14 09:44:51

"I have cancer and homeopathy helps me deal with chemotherapy" - Whatever helps you.

"Homeopathy works" - No, it doesn't.

JustGrrrrrreat Tue 10-Jun-14 10:05:41

You are right I have confused the 2. My cousin used to witter on about homeopathy and crystal healing and I used to largely phase out! I would, in my defence, say that I would be far from the only one who didnt know the difference so I would check what people actually meant first.

coteDAzur - that is pretty much what I was getting at.

JustGrrrrrreat Tue 10-Jun-14 10:07:06

Oh and from the definition I have just read - yep bollocks.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 10-Jun-14 10:43:54

I agree that it's about respecting the person as your equal.

It is entirely possible to do this and still disagree with their beliefs. For example: saying "x is a load of bollocks" is disrespectful. Saying "I don't believe x because there is no evidence for it" is voicing your beliefs respectfully.

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 10:57:11

"Saying "I don't believe x because there is no evidence for it" is voicing your beliefs respectfully.

But what if it's not a belief, it's fact? To continue to use homeopathy as an example, it's not a matter of opinion or belief that it doesn't work- it just doesn't. So can I say "homeopathy categorically does not work- here is the evidence" or do I have to use weasel words?

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 10-Jun-14 11:04:40

It's up to you Hak, however telling someone that their beliefs are "a load of bollocks" is not considered good manners in any society that I've been in.

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 11:16:37

Dione- could you answer my question? I withdraw a load of bollocks. Am I allowed to say "homeopathy doesn't work"? Or do I have to say, despite the fact that it has been categorically proven not to work, "I believe it doesn't work"

capsium Tue 10-Jun-14 11:45:53

Hak In answer your question respect is something we ^all could do better in. My guide is this,

Romans 14
King James Version (KJV)
14 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.

14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Naturally I accept that if you do not have Christian faith not all is relevant. However not judging a person (as being wholly good or bad), not actively encouraging them to act badly / lose their temper, and trying to do things which edify ie add to / improve teach another person instead of 'knocking them down' or reducing them, I think is a good aim. essentially act in kindness.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 10-Jun-14 11:45:53

To answer your question Hak, you can use whatever words you want, be they "weasel words", "bollocks", "x doesn't work beyond placebo effect". I think the key is to respect the person you are speaking to as an equal. If your intent is to offend or show disrespect, or you deliberately use disrespectful language then you can hardly be surprised that people are offended.

Solongfrankl Tue 10-Jun-14 11:53:17

This reminds me of those threads that go: "Is this breaking Talk Guidelines?" "Is this?" "Is this?"

If you have to ask: "Is this rude/disprespectful?" it really is best to err on the respectful side.

Respect is what most equalities legislation is based on. It's worth trying to get your head fully around what respect is. Or if you can't, err on the respectful side. That way, you don't break the law (in the case of equalities legislation - which provides you with motivation).

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 11:55:51

Dione- assume I don't want to be disrespectful. Can I say "homeopathy does not work" or do I have to say " I believe homeopathy does not work"?

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 11:57:55

"If you have to ask: "Is this rude/disprespectful?" it really is best to err on the respectful side."

So what you are saying is that the needs and wishes of the believer count for more than the needs and wishes of the non believer?

capsium Tue 10-Jun-14 12:02:59

Hak You can express your views in a considerate manner. Might I suggest using,

I believe (when it is your own personal belief)

There is no empirical proof, that I am aware of, to show...(when referring to research)

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 10-Jun-14 12:04:36

Both are fine Hak, you may want to add a bit about placebo effect, as this is real and for some (particularly those living with chronic pain or anxiety) this is enough and therefore it works for them.

capsium Tue 10-Jun-14 12:05:35


But your use of the word 'assume' here,

"assume I don't want to be disrespectful."

may lead some to think that you may want to be disrespectful....

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