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Okay, I was driving home from work the other day and I see this dude walking on the side of the road with Yahweh's (or Jahweh or whatever way you want to spell it)name written in Hebrew in huge letters on the back of his shirt. I stopped the car to interrogate him. He apparently didn't know how offensive that was to Hasidic Jews. Oddly enough he said he got it at a religious event. After comparing it to something of equal sacredness in his religion he about took his shirt off right there. This raises an ethical question made extremely complicated by people who don't believe religion has any real secular value except to perpetuate social stagnation and oppress the weak minded.

At what point are we responsible for not offending other people because of their religious beliefs? Especially if you believe that their beliefs are oppressing them?

I, being religious, think it is pretty important not to offend people when it is about religion. But if I see someone calling a spade a heart I will usually let that one slide also. I am just one of those people who won't call someone on something unless I am 100% sure I am right. And heck, for all I know a spade is a heart.

Story time
My friend doesn't like breaking down barriers when it comes to religion. But in any other situation he is not afraid to call a spade a spade (if I may overuse that idiom). Is he a hypocrite for being so assertive and forthright about everything and then avoiding religion?

I do think that if you are criticizing a religion or religious belief it is usually a double fault. That is usually because the instigator of the fight usually knows less about the religion, because the person practicing it usually knows quite a bit about it. The other side of the fault is the religious person is usually an idiot and denies the other persons argument OR tries to logically explain and justify their reason for believing in God.
I think if the person makes fun of themselves as much as they make fun of you they probably aren't being all that personal.

At what point are you responsible for 'instigating' the argument?
I mean this dude wasn't trying to piss me off when he put that shirt on, I doubt he even knew what it meant. He just thought he was quoting the messiah and being a happy dude.
Who ends up being responsible the offender or the offended?

Two things.
1. Don't get crazy with the metaphysicalness.
2. Give an example with your response. I realize this stuff changes with every situation.
It's the responsibility of the person with the uncommon beliefs to educate people about everything that offends him if he doesn't want to be offended purposively. Example, I believe that shirts with smiley faces are disrespectful for inaccurately representing the divinely inspired human form. Is everyone who wears smiley faces, or draws them or uses them in instant messages guilty of being a bigot for being ignorant of my beliefs which are not common to the culture we're in.
That's definitely a good point icu. It's quite difficult to inform everyone exactly what offends you. In my opinion is each person's duty not only to try to inform people what offends them but also to do their best to avoid offending other people. Regardless, people will be offended by other people who don't know everything about their beliefs. It's happened since the first belief systems came into existence and will continue to happen so long as people have unique and differing ideas. The most we can do is try and work past our differences and live with each other as best as we can.
I think offense should only be taken when offense is met, since "common knowledge" isn't necessarily so common. In your example of the guy wearing Yahweh's name written out in Hebrew, I say anyone offended should get over it. If it had, say, a subtitle of "Suck it Hasidic Jews", we'd be dealing with another situation entirely. Not that he'd have any less of a right to wear it. I think whether or not something is offensive is entirely irrelevant to whether someone should be allowed to do it or not.
I believe that both parties are responsible. If the offender is being blatantly rude and disrespecting you and your religion, then the initial fault lies with him. Keep in mind that you are responsible for the way you behave. Meaning, you are welcome to re-butt his statement, and defend yourself, but do no stoop to his level and make a "behind" out of both of you. Remember that when push comes to shove, "who's to blame?" is a child's game. We are all responsible for ourselves.

Example: If some guy is wearing a shirt that says: "Jesus is a loser!" and is walking around smacking bibles out of people's hand. He is being disrespectful. He is at fault. If you walk up and punch his face off. You are in the wrong. If you go about it a different way, maybe talking to him about your beliefs, then you have proceeded in the best way possible.
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