This is a very touchy topic for myself, as I'm a strong atheist.
Religion must be questioned and even satarised as ALL religions are fundamentally flawed, always in belief and often in practice. Whether Jesus or elder god Cthulhu, criticism by means of science and logic should be used in regards to religion, in the hope that one day all adherents will vacate the church, the mosque, the synagogue, as well as the battlefield and remove the bomb strapped vest - religion hurts people.
I believe it is ok to criticize religion just as I believe it is ok to criticize secular beliefs. Nothing is protected from criticism as per the 1st amendment. It's the sad reality of life. Maybe it's not so sad though, because I love criticizing secular beliefs. When you feel something is wrong, you need to speak up
People have feelings; ideas and concepts don't. Religion, is open for scrutiny, analysis, parody, and mocking, much in the same way as political parties, because it is merely a concept without feelings fragile to criticism. But its followers have feelings that deserve to be respected. Thus, it's okay to criticize religion in contexts where it's debatable, such as a debate website, but definitely not in everyday interactions with a religious person.
Why should anything not be open to scrutiny? We must look at everything objectively, and argue against and for it. I personally feel that it is okay to criticize anything. Now I do believe that certain criticisms are not okay. It is not okay to criticize something for no reason, or for racist, sexist or otherwise unfounded criticisms.
In American (and other nations), religious freedom is the norm. When you attack a religion, or a non-believer, you are basically attacking their fundamental rights. Aside from being disrespectful to the individual, it also shows an overwhelming lack of regard for the country and its founding principles. One could even argue that any individual who repeatedly engages in attacking religion has the propensity to commit a hate crime against religious individuals. Or, where attacks are focused on non-believers, the propensity to commit a hate crime against atheists. When a person criticizes religion, their actions say more about them (as an individual) and their emotional/mental state than it offends the subject matter (religion) or its members.
If we deem that it is not ok to criticize one thing, then therefore it should not be ok to criticize anything at all. It's either all or none. You can't pick and choose what is ok, or not ok. Why should one area of belief be exempt from criticism? Is it immune? No, I think not. Religion is philosophy, and philosophy is a fluid and changing entity. These changes are cause by criticism itself. If we eliminate criticism, then we basically eliminate change.
Well, without criticism, religion gets stale and boring, just keep individuals out of it and don't get personal like some other people say, remember, you want to criticise religion, not the individuals associated with it, to keep a more objective view of it in perspective. Religion, not the person is what you are going for.
1) condones inhumane practices
2) causes psychological trauma in people
3) criticizes those with different views
4) tries to place itself above politics, science or education
You can decide where your bottom line ends at, though. Neil deGrasse Tyson said that he's absolutely fine with any kind of belief, unless it tries to influence education. Richard Dawkins criticizes religion mainly when it tries to undermine science and feed on people's minds.
They way the community acts about their religion and the offenses that happen just because of their loyalty, I believe, Is even downright INSULTING. Even more so than racism, I believe. It is due to this factor that leads us to the idea that indivuduals often get carried away in their beliefs and tend to start trying to force it on others. For example; the mere phrase "I'll pray for you" is a wonderful display that offense can be inflicted. Atheists know it; we don't have anything against any religions (hopefully). I'm just saying that religioun is a powerful tool in triggering not a small group, but the whole community's anger, and in some major cases, spark and arguement between scientists and theoligists. It would be nice to have some debate-like regulation within this idea.
All religions must be subject to criticism to the same degree we hold various institutions with many stakeholders accountable.
One should not simply criticize another human being for believing in something that we ourselves do not believe, as there is no way we can interpret how another person thinks or feels, and when it comes to religion logic and reason cannot be used to influence the person since religion transcends logic and reason. However, we should be able to criticize the ideology and practices of the religion, especially those that do not coincide with societal values (such as freedom of expression, equality, freedom of sexuality, etc.). If we do not have this ability to criticize religion (which is what we currently see with Islam, as criticism is often inappropriately conflated with islamaphobia), then we are encouraging dangerous behaviour related to said religion.
Most people who criticize a religion are uneducated in what they are critiquing in the first place. To criticize religion is the same as criticising any person with a belief system different to your own. It is the same problem all cultures share. They do not like what is new or different from them. People have criticized for a variety of reasons (homosexuality, ethnicity, social status) and religion is just another thing to target when you don't believe in what a person is doing. Religion helps instill morals into young people. Who is anyone to judge another or criticize their beliefs as we are all individuals and deserve the right to to think and believe what we feel.