If I were to pick apart and question Jews or Wiccans in many forums, I would be slaughtered. Although some of that sort of thing does go on, criticism of some of the more popular religions is definitely more muted.
Why do people personally feel it is okay to criticize other religions/belief systems? Not asking why people in general do this. Why do you feel it is okay to criticize atheists beliefs but not christian beliefs, for instance? or do you do this at all? are you an equal opportunity picker? do you want to be but find certain religions get your ire up so you end up focusing on them?
I am going to get myself in trouble probably. Cause I will make criticisms of other people's religions.
I won't criticize you if you believe that Christ came back from the dead or that God stopped the sun so that Joshua (?) could defeat a Canaanite city. Nor will I criticize a belief that a solstice ceremony is the proper way to give homage to the earth. Because I could not prove those true or false, even if I think them to be improbable as to their truth.
But other things that can be demonstrated true or false will get me going, especially the more "out there" the belief gets. Stuff like that guy who does "Crossing Over" and faith healing and casting spells for the protection of a house or praying for the health of a person. These things can be shown to be false or not have much of the desired effect. I don't normally go out of my way but sometimes listening to a person espouse this sort of thing gets my ire up. I want to get them to show me. I will challenge them.
For instance, in the Seattle Gothic forums I made fun of John Hagelin and TM. I challenged someone who was looking for a psychic reader to send the psychic reader they found over to James Randi's foundation for the $1 million prize for demonstrating a paranormal ability.
When I don't do this, it's merely because either I figure the discussion won't do any good. Or because I don't want to piss off everyone. But I *always* have that voice in my head saying things like "are they absolutely nuts? that just wouldn't work that way!"
On the other hand, for things that really are inherently unprovable one way or the other, I get really ticked at people who attack such beliefs. Or people who attack a belief over its followers. Especially the Catholic Church. Few things will get me angrier than someone accusing Catholics of being sheep or sucking up the opiate of the masses. Even though Catholicism no longer makes any sense to me. I get ticked, although not as worked up, over similar attacks on other religions as well.
I was watching people jump on atheists, and I took a look at my own behavior, and was questioning why I exhibited such behavior. In particular, I realized that in some cases I do criticize religious belief, and in others, I do not. And I wanted to examine why that was, and if I thought my behavior was wrong. Not so much if other people thought it was wrong. And so I invite others to discuss their own behavior. People lose sight of that. That is to be expected of any discussion.
I purposefully avoided the question of what people thought of criticism of their own religion from others, even though it is an intertwined question. I can get irritated at people who criticize me and my beliefs, but upon quiet reflection it's never really a bad thing.
If the criticism is thoughtful and well reasoned, then perhaps I have learned something and strengthened my belief, either by adopting a "better" belief or by looking deeper into my belief. If criticism is incorrect, uninformed, or based on bad assumptions, so what? At most I've lost only time.
The truth needs no defense. The truth simply is. I does not have feelings, nor does the truth change because more or less people agree with it. A fact in an instant of time does not change. If it was a fact then, looking back at the point of time, it will always still be a fact about that particular instant. My agreement or disagreement with it does not affect it. This attitude is what I fall back on when I catch myself getting irritated at criticism.
Cribbed from a thread I started on the Seattle Gothic board.