The time has come to give a severe blow to religious sentiments. There is no other way about it. For, we can no longer afford to keep society at a standstill and curb its growth. Those who do so by digging in their heels and sticking to their old, bigoted ways, will do that at their own peril.
Religious sentiments evoke the strongest of all reactions; people retaliate vehemently when their religion is at stake. Which is why religion has more people in its grasp than rationality ever will. These days, one gets to hear quite frequently that it is unethical to hurt religious sentiments of 1.5 billion people. What exactly does this mean? That it’s better to hurt the sentiments of a smaller faction than to take chances with a bigger one? If the numbers had come down to a few hundred or thousand, would it be okay, then?
There are many people protesting against the death of the Bangladeshi bloggers with the justification that these bloggers did nothing to hurt the religious sentiments of people. Do they, like the religious bigots, think that it is a cardinal sin to hurt religious sentiments? This is a grey area even among free thinkers and intellectuals who do not seem to grasp the fact that there is actually nothing wrong in hurting religious sentiments, either of a majority or a minority.
In fact, you will rarely come across anybody whose sentiments have not been hurt at some point of time or the other. People have varied individualistic ways of putting their point across and when we interact with each other, it is more than possible that our views could clash, leading to a certain discomfort on our part. Differences of opinion are a part and parcel of every civilised society, and crushing contrarian voices is hardly the way forward.
As said earlier, no other sentiments evoke as much reaction as ones with religious undertones. Most violent occurrences take place when people take offence on religious grounds, lashing out in the most unpleasant of ways. But then, why is it that we have to respect religious sentiments at all? Is it because that people love parables about their religion and would do anything to let it be the way it is? All other sentiments can be appeased and attended to but religious sentiments leave behind a sore spot. This bit of intolerance needs to come to an end.
This politics of agitating religious sentiments has been going on for a long time. A long drawn war is being waged with religious rigidity on one side, and science, women’s rights, equality and humanity on the other. Now, it is up to us to decide which side we take.
The symbiotic relationship of politics and religious agitation has taken a sinister turn these days. The solution to this problem is not to stop hurting religious sentiments, but just the opposite of it. Religious sentiments need to be hurt more strongly than before. Only after consistent attacks will people stop reacting blindly and take time to introspect. The so-called high bastions of religion have pedalled religious sentiments as an excuse for a long time, but there is still hope that it can be salvaged.
Nowhere in the world have women’s rights been established without causing offence to chauvinists. Democracy did not come into being without incurring the ire of dictatorship. Science found its footstep after being tumbled more than once by religion. In the same way, it is not possible to change religious bigotry without dealing strong and repeated blows to touchy religious sentiments.
If one chooses to take the side of the atheist bloggers, the defence should not be that they did not hurt religious sentiments. The statement should be that they did hurt religious sentiments, as it was needed. To the religious bigot, if the word “atheist” is anathema, then the term “believer” demands the same treatment from the non-believer.
Everyone is welcome to their share of verbal profanity but that doesn’t give them a right to violence. Ideology should be fought with ideology, not with senseless violence. Scientists do not take up arms against people who do not believe in science but in religion. There should be mass agitation against this violence, otherwise there will be no end to this. There will continue to be violence against scientists, free thinkers and anyone who dares to question rigid religious tenets.
Muslims are probably the only sect that have brought woe onto themselves by their own heinous acts, steeped as they are in their religious bigotry. It is time they gave free thought a chance.