Respect My Religion!

(I think you people have seen this image before. That's because it's one of my favourite religion-related ones.)

I very frequently get told by religious people to respect their religion whenever I open my mouth to protest "Actually, no, I don't want to be forced into sitting in chapel for three-quarters of an hour when I have better things to do with my time" or something along those lines - basically, any defence of atheism or secularism seems to get me a telling-off for being disrespectful, which is obviously the worst thing in the world. So, if you're the kind of religious person that would do that, I've got a couple of questions for you.

Why is your idea (since religion is an idea) inherently deserving of respect, especially when there are more holes in your holy book than there are in Swiss cheese? Why does my idea not deserve equal respect - in other words, why do you get to trash it without fear of reprisal? And if your idea's so good, why does it seem to require the stifling of dissent or debate? Surely if it's true it would be able to stand the test of criticism. I don't particularly like people saying stupid things about atheism (which by the way is soooooo not a religion), but I don't stop them from saying stupid things about it on the grounds of "disrespect", I point out why they're wrong, because I have logical arguments at my disposal and I'm not afraid to use them.

More to the point, you force your stupid ideas on me and feed me lies about atheism that I could point out in under five minutes if only you let people argue with you, but no, only your religion gets time to speak (how is that fair? how is that right? hint: it really is not, especially in a public or multifaith sphere). Your religion tells me to be meek and submissive and to beg for forgiveness for not being a heterosexual religious male. You push a flawed idea of a god - he cannot be omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent all at once (especially if he answers prayers) because of the existence of evil in the world (he also seems to really like undeserved collective punishment). You deny established science in the name of incredibly stupid ideas (Intelligent Design, anyone?). You're openly homophobic and misogynist. And, because I don't know any true religious wingnuts and because I'm focusing on what the people around me do, I'm going to leave out things like harassing pregnant people as they walk into abortion clinics, blowing up said abortion clinics, corruption, child abuse...

...Why does any of that deserve respect? Even if you factor in some of the better bits, like some religious people being nice and the awesome art and music made and composed in the name of religion, that only makes me respect people being good and nice and respect the great artists and composers of the years past.

Stop being thin-skinned. Stop whining about persecution unless you're actually being targeted for hate crimes. Now stand up and do what every out atheist does every day - defend your ideas rationally and coherently that you might prove to someone else they deserve respect.

And until you do that, you're not going to get it.