Something I’ve seen said for a while is “if someone argues their religion should be public policy, there’s no reason to debate if they’re actually right about their religion if you’re not part of it.” Why would you debate theology with someone whose theology you don’t share? Saying “but your ideas really don’t live up to your religion” ignores the fact that their attempts to claim divine mandate don’t matter as you don’t believe as they do.
I’d like to discuss this for a bit as I believe there is a time to debate someone’s religion when they want to force it on you. It’s just, shall we say, more optional and personal.
So let us say someone argues that their religion should be the law of the land or the basis for laws, and you are not part of their religion. You also realize their religious interpretation is, shall we say, theologically unsound to a critical degree. Should you argue with them?
No. Simply put, you’re not part of their religion so you have no reason to listen to them. If they want to create public policy, they have to argue values that are more universal and inclusive. If they can’t, that’s their own damn problem.
Even if you were part of their religion, there’s no reason for them to go force their religion on others. You don’t have to be an a-hole like them, after all.
So, you can safely ignore these hopeful theocrats without debate. If they wish to press the issue, then you have someone who, let us put not too fine a point on it, wants to use the power of the state to compel religious belief. You can safely assume that under the right circumstances, they’d be ready to get very violent toward you and others and should be safe accordingly (or mock them when safe).
However, I would argue that there is a reason to argue theology with such people, albeit an optional one. It’s a good way to make a point if you think it may help that person.
If one of these aspiring theocrats continues to annoy you and you decide to prove they don’t know their religion, do so. Challenge them to justify their ideas, and feel free to pick them apart. Then, after showing their lack of knowledge of their own faith, you can note something.
You have shown that not only are they theocrats, they don’t know what the hell they’re saying. They not only are aspiring theocrats, but they have also proven you have no reason to trust them on anything. If they can’t get their religion right, which is supposedly so important to them, how can you trust them on anything else? Not only do they want to use the power of the state on you, but this person also clearly can’t be trusted on anything as they’re a hypocrite.
Yes, you’re probably being a bit of an a-hole yourself, but in a good way. Maybe, just maybe you’ll get them to think.
But I don’t think you’re obligated.