I have always held to the belief that any religion (even cult-like ones) that teaches moral thinking, values which respect life, etc. is worthy of my respect and tolerance, even though I may disagree with the tenants of that religion.
This being said, I have completely changed my tolerance of the Muslim faith. I used to think that the al-Qaida, Taliban, and Wahabists were more of a disturbed, radical minority of this religion.
Recent events surrounding cartons depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb-laced turban have set off widespread demonstrations in predominately Muslim countries, with people killed and injured, buildings burned and economic boycotts of countries who espouse freedom of the press, cultures which embody the secular rule of law, independent free thought and responsibility of the individual.
We witness in the present events, Muslim clerics and Imams supporting and encouraging riots and destruction of people and property of the alleged transgressors. Thousands of enraged Muslims chanting, waving swords, firing weapons, and engaging in self-flagulation at the behest and guidance of their religious leaders!
Clearly, this is a religion without responsible rational leadership, devoid of tolerance for different faiths and cultures and so-entrenched in its beliefs that it is demonstrably an enemy of freedom of thought and thus the very enemy of freedom itself.
It is, indeed, a faith based on fanaticism and brain-washing indoctrination and thus deserving of no respect whatsoever. Not until I see its leadership demanding do hold its terrorist elements to account, treating its women as equals, practicing basic religious tenants of love, dignity, kindness, forgiving, respect and the preaching of understanding and tolerance of other faiths' believers will I call it legitimate and worthy.
Gary F. Maurer