My answer to Is it okay to ban beef in a secular country like India on religious grounds?
Answer by Vijayendra Mohanty:
I had a discussion regarding respecting the Koran with a friend once. She said respect it because it is God's word. I said I will respect it because it is important to you. I do not believe it is God's word. And even if I did, the guidelines contained in the Koran are for Muslims. No person who does not follow the religion is required to abide by them.
In other words, Muslims can’t expect non-Muslims to follow the rules that their god has set out for them in their holy book.
Matters of respect are an issue for ethos, not the law. You can't enforce a law that forces me to respect you. Well technically you can, but it wouldn't be real respect in that case. I would secretly still think you are a dick.
Why has the consumption of beef been banned?
To protect cows? To protect the feelings of those who love and respect cows? To enforce the religious / cultural belief that cows are important / sacred?
I would argue that it is none of the above. Instead, it is an unthinking and impulsive decision on part of the powers that be. It will not create respect for Hindu customs in the minds of people. It will not reduce the slaughter of cows (just as prohibition did nothing to reduce alcohol consumption). It will not do anything to make cows safer.
Any move by the (allegedly) secular government of a country to accommodate the religious or cultural beliefs of a section of the population (no matter what their numbers) will only push the system down a slippery slope where every group starts demanding special provisions.
What’s next? A pork ban because Muslims consider the pig unclean? An onion ban, courtesy the Jains? A ban on all meat because Vegans are displeased?
If your answer is that this kind of legislation only applies to religious beliefs, I would ask what makes religious beliefs more important than non-religious ones? Why aren’t the sentiments of comic book fans worth a law so that the publishing industry can have a field day at the government’s expense? Why can’t rationalists get a law that puts a limit on how many times astrologers can appear on TV channels pretending to know things nobody can know?
The government has no business deciding what people are allowed to consume.