Answer by Kris Rosvold:
We atheists and agnostics tend to be logical, congruent critters who respect congruence, reason, and internally consistantly logic. Our actions and reactions generally match our beliefs in a manner that is often not "convenient" for us. We also tend to call things as we see them and not as we wish they were. We, like all humans are far from perfect, but we look HARD at our own flaws and fallacies, without the convenient "washing clean" of pennance.
So.. here's how to start. Quit preaching "convenient" parts (using them to "justify" cruelty, prejudice, and making others less than) of the old testament and trying to force it upon everyone as THE way to live.
It is, for any reasonable person with a shred of kindness, at best a perfect example of how not to treat people (believers or not).
Quit lying to "justify" your fears of others. Jesus doesn't hate homosexuals. In point of Fact, according to your own holy book, here is every single word he supposedly said (the red letters) about them…ready?
This being the fact, please explain to me why various sects protest at the funerals of gay soldiers and, why the larger Christian Community doesn't call them out by loudly and publicly disowning them?! Seriously?!
Yes, I know the Baptist Congress did a little of that… finally… last year. Kudos for them, where's the rest of y'all?
Next, Get Congruent, consistantly, in your actions, with the teachings of your savior.
This means pay special attention to the parable of the prodigal son, the parable about the dust mote and the log which teaches that the way to "recruit" folks is by your example in your actions over time and not by force or intimidation, and this from John… (quoted from memory because it's one of the very few thing in the bible which makes sense to me):
"Judge not that ye be not judged, for with what measure ye judge it shall be returned unto you, pressed down, shaken and overflowing."
It seems to me that many folks "conveniently" forget that last little bit which provides the whole meaning of the quote. It is a strong warning, on a par with the youth pastor a couple of years ago who, when questioned about homosexuals said: "We can only hope that they are kinder to us than we have been to them."
Some folks do "grock" it. Many more seem not to.
That congruence in action also means that when members of your religion or another sect commit crimes, you do not get to "conveniently" ignore, defend those crimes, or hide the criminals in your ranks, from prosecution for their crimes… EVER!
This last is referred to as "Having the courage of your convictions." and it would go a LONG way towards gaining my respect… The sort of respect I have for the Amish, Mennonite, and Hassidic Jews I've met. When they find a criminal in their ranks they convince the person to turn themselves in, or they turn them in. They don't move the criminal around the country to shield him from capture and prosecution. They don't "conveniently" stay silent when they see atrocities comitted by other sects, or their own government.
Oh, I almost forgot! Remember that parable of the dust mote which I mentioned earlier? It speaks directly to proselytizing.
Here's what it says: "Knock it off and pay attention to what YOU are doing wrong. Let the other guy worry about what he needs to work on!!"
In other words, what the other person is doing or not doing is None Of Your Affair (N.O.Y.A.), unless they are doing it to you.
So… want my respect?
Want me to consider a possibility that your god might actually be a valid, useful, basis for my morals?
Get consistently congruent in your actions so they match with the teachings of your savior.
Call out the transgressors amongst your sect. Loudly.
Recognise that there have been several thousand "gods" over the course of human history and ask yourself about the similarities between your teachings and theirs, rather than focusing on the differences.
Is it just possible that they are in the same path, and simply have different names for it?
Quit worrying about how "those heathens" are living and concern yourself with how YOU ARE LIVING.
This means no more fiat laws in order to force your beliefs upon others.
Quit knocking on my door, and accosting me in the public square, to give me "good news" which is neither wanted or needed. If I need what you have, I'll come find you.
Remember that your actions in how you treat the weakest amongst us speak FAR more loudly to me than any words ever could!
Also remember that if the "common wisdom" asserts that actions based in prejudice or lies are somehow ok, it is neither common or wisdom.
I personally guarantee that this is an incredibly uncomfortable way to live because it forces us to examine and challenge our beliefs about ourselves and about others. I know this because I've torn down and rebuilt my own world view from scratch twice now. I also know that this challenging, questioning, and recreating, has made me a better, kinder person. That is what matters. This is all that matters.
Final Answer: 42
For those who are congruent in action:
Thank you, no… truly, Thank You! You folks give me hope.