Posted: October 27, 2009.
Print: New York Times
Echoing the call of many “New Atheists”, Randy Cohen says that religion should be open to the same sort of criticism that any other institution is subject to.
The passionate intensity unleashed by religious matters is evinced in responses to The Ethicist, my other column for The Times Magazine. When I take up a secular question that provokes broad disagreement, I typically receive a few hundred responses by e-mail that begin: “Dear Sir, I am appalled…” When I write about religion, I cause a tidal wave. The week I rebuked an Orthodox Jewish real estate agent whose beliefs forbade his shaking the hand of a female client, I stopped counting after receiving 4,000 ferocious messages…
My political beliefs, my ideas about social justice, are as deeply held as my critics’ religious beliefs, but I don’t ask them to treat me with reverence, only civility. They should not expect me to walk on tiptoe [when discussion religious institutions].