Commenting on the terrible events in Paris, the Pope said religions should be treated with respect, suggesting there were limits to how far satirists should go in lampooning religions.
Now as a Protestant I do not agree with the Pope about certain things, such as whether there should be a pope, but in fact I do agree with Pope Francis on many things. This time, however, I think he has missed an important point.
Religions should not have rights. People should. Ideas should be open to debate and to ridicule, as long as people are free to argue in their defence. I do not care why someone is being treated badly, I care that it is happening at all. Nobody should be bullied, harassed, discriminated against or humiliated, let alone attacked, assaulted, robbed or have their property destroyed, for ANY reason: whether colour, race, religion, sex, disability or just because someone else does not like them.
I do not want special treatment because I am a Christian. I equally do not think I should get worse treatment.
I have always had to endure criticism and opposition to my beliefs. Mainly from atheists, but sometimes from believers in other religions, and even other types of Christian. I have encountered this directly and through general arguments on TV , in print and online. Some has been intellectual and sophisticated, like “the God Delusion” whilst some had been comical and sarcastic. Some has been stupid and crude. I have had to get over it. It has made me think and learn and grow. It has helped me understand my faith better. Because God is Truth, he will always win in the end. If you do not have the confidence to believe that, you need to take a long, hard look at what you really believe and why.
If a religion needs protecting there is something wrong with it. Or with its followers.
None of us should want special treatment. We should all demand equal treatment for everyone.