Simple Premise; What if we just declared certain behaviors to be wrong irregardless of who the victim and perpetrator are?
I live in a religiously diverse world. I do so purposely. I find intense personal satisfaction in sharing my world with people who have different beliefs. The hard part for me is that difference often leads to conflict. Mature and enlightened people know how to resolve conflict in productive ways. Many people aren’t there yet, however, and people make a lot of mistakes as a result. People don’t like to admit to mistakes, and when they make them and they will shift the blame to avoid responsibility for their errors. When religion comes into the picture, you see this manifest in cognitive somersaults that attempt to show how belief systems that are most often based in morality and compassion end up providing proof how the other guy deserved what you did to them.
And thus religious bullying is born.
Political correctness is a failed attempt to deal with this problem. It failed because it didn’t point out bad behaviors, but bad targets. Few people today would publicly make a derogatory joke about Jewish people. The main reason is that after centuries of unwarranted persecution, society ot the bright idea to say “Hey, it’s not cool to be attacking Jewish people” and made such persecution politically incorrect. (This doesn’t mean there aren’t assholes out there who break this rule, it just means the better part of society condemns such attacks.) But the problem is, we made the issue that it was wrong to make fun of them for being Jewish, when we should have been saying that “they are human” and “it is wrong to treat any human that way.” But because we didn’t do that, because we didn’t make a statement of the wrongness of the act, all we did was declare Jews an illegal target. As a result, some Christians publicly attack gays, Muslims, Atheists, Liberals, Pagans, and women, some Atheists publicly attack Pagans, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists, some Pagans attack Christians and Atheists, etc. The tactics are all still the same, the only difference between how we attacked the Jews and how we attacked everybody else is the political correctness of the target.
So lets make a new rule: Let the behavior determine if it’s right or wrong. If it is wrong to do to one person/group, it’s wrong to do to everyone.
So what behaviors constitute religious bullying?
1) Belittling a belief merely because you don’t share it. In the end, there is no scientific proof that proves one belief better than the other. We all have our reasons for the belief (or non-belief) we hold, but in the end, they are just that, belief. The proof doesn’t exist. There is an issue where people do want to comment or debate a particular belief, but there is a difference between true questioning and mockery. But the easy rule of thumb is that if your question contains or infers the insult (e.g. “How are you not just believing in a fairy tale?”) you are intending to insult, and therefor bullying.
2) Forcing people to follow your beliefs. The recent contraception coverage issue is a great example of this. By allowing employers to not cover certain medical costs of women’s health, you are using economic pressures to force other people to act according to your beliefs.
3) Crossing the line with religious jokes. This is a hard one to negotiate, because people have different comfort levels. But if your joke is based in belittlement or outright insult, then you’ve crossed the line. If someone expressed discomfort or injury because of the joke, then you’ve crossed the line. And if you feel compelled to justify the joke in the face of someone you have hurt, then you have crossed the line. Remember, every bully uses the excuse “it’s just a joke”
It may be hard for people to accept this. We all feel the temptation to mock and abuse others. But the ability to fight such temptation is the hallmark of a good person. In the end, if we can declare wrong actions to be wrong based not on the target, but based on the actions themselves, the world will be a better place. we will all be happier, and we will all be closer to each other. We will admit what we really all are: human.