Bigotry and Religious Belief



Attacks on religious doctrines are often characterized as a form of bigotry and traditional analyses of the concept support this view. I argue that regarding such attacks as bigotry is inconsistent with a variety of contemporary moral attitudes and social goals. I offer an improved account of when we should ascribe bigotry – one that is more coherent with views on tolerance and the importance of open debate. This account focuses upon the justification for hostile attitudes and also limits the target of bigoted thought to persons, not to doctrines, religious or otherwise. I argue that while it is indeed possible to adopt bigoted attitudes toward people classified on the basis of their religious beliefs, it is not possible to hold bigoted attitudes against the beliefs themselves.