Believers, those of my fellow people who believe or practice a religion…
Please do not assume that those of us who do not believe in God lack a vital part of being human. We are, I would say, as likely as you folks to experience the great love and the great awe. I would call it human experience.
Some individuals who I deeply love and respect are orthodox Jews. I respect them because what they do is simply practice their religion. They don’t try to impose it on me. Folks, simply practice your religion. If, for instance, that religion rejects usury, or the eating of pork, or homosexuality, refrain from doing the thing, state with simple dignity that you refrain because of your religious practice.
I question the motives of people who are abusive in condemning what they perceive as the sins of others. I speculate: Perhaps they have some muddle‐headed feeling of diverting the wrath of their god by pointing at other targets?
Or perhaps they hope that all the loud‐mouthed hypocrisy will hide their own sins? (Perhaps I am underestimating the dynamics of group‐think; I tend to make that mistake.)
If one harms no one and practises one’s religion—that is well worth respecting as a human choice and as human custom—whether or not the god or whatever in question really exists, or cares.
Major and minor bad nastiness has been done in the name of religion. The Inquisition was not nice. Of course, the Stalinists and others have proved that one does not need religion to be a cruel abusive bullying shit. Or, a minor rude jerk.
In my experience, kind loving believers and kind loving non‐believers have very much more in common with each other than they have in common with the unkind sorts.
Bottom line—we not‐believing people DO share your feelings of human concern, believers, although we may not share the belief that these feelings derive from a deity.

From Molten Wood and Feral Ideas

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