EDITORIAL – Do we have to respect both the person and the religion?

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

DOES RESPECTING PEOPLE mean we also have to respect their religious beliefs?

That important question has been raised in a discussion on local social media in the wake of the slaughter of 50 Muslims by a white supremacist in New Zealand.

Bill Ligertwood, a member of the Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought — a group that espouses atheism — suggests that while we must respect Muslims as human beings, and that everyone has a right to worship without fear, we don’t have to respect anyone’s religion because, in his view, faith in a supreme being is misplaced.

According to Ligertwood, “Those who practice (religion) are worthy of our respect but the beliefs are not.”

That provoked a lively discussion. I’m on the side of respecting both individuals and their religions, with the exception that religions can sometimes be manipulated for violent purposes.

The opposite of respect is disrespect. If we disrespect someone’s religion, how can we say we respect the person?

One definition of respect is simply “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.”

I respect the opinions of Ligertwood and his atheist colleagues but I certainly disagree with the idea that anyone has all the answers, which members of the Centre for Rational Thought are convinced they do.

It’s true that religion has been the cause of many of the world’s problems, including, in some cases, being an excuse for white supremacism. It’s also true that if we can see our way clear to respecting each other’s religions instead of scorning them — ‘scorn’ is one synonym for disrespect, by the way — we could resolve those problems.

Right now, as the world mourns the tragedy in New Zealand, is not the time to be disputing each other’s religions. Now is the time for finding common ground.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8126 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Do we have to respect both the person and the religion?

  1. Bill Ligertwood is correct in his opinions. I for one object to being looked at through a 1 inch by 6 inch slit and regarded as an infidel.

  2. It is getting more difficult to understand why it is so politically incorrect to not respect some religions. And it is getting more difficult to understand what is going on with the press and media. For days and still, there was little in the news but the horrible event in NZ. Two days ago there was a terror attack in Holland where three people were gunned down and some seriously wounded. I wonder if people are even aware of these attacks, there have been a few. Nary but a brief mention by our media. I have seen photos of huge cement pillars blocking the entrance to some of their Christmas Markets in Germany to prevent vehicles being driven into the crowds and running people down. I find this one sided reporting of the news does little to promote tolerance and respect.

  3. Dawne Taylor // March 18, 2019 at 8:45 AM // Reply

    Thank you Mel. Indeed it is about respect and care for individuals, communities and beliefs.

  4. I used to be quite on the side of your viewpoint MR but I am changing attitude. I find Bill Ligertwood quite an insightful person with an interesting and thoughtful perspective. While I was not participating in any social media discussions of sorts as of late, some of the stuff previously discussed by Bill on the subject “rings the bell.”

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