Anthony Bourdain Offered Refreshing Look At Religion and Faith

CARRIE is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Why Did Atheist Anthony Bourdain Respect Religion?

Anthony Bourdain has died by suicide at the age of 61. He was found today in his hotel room in France.

Anthony Bourdain was never known for subtlety. It was part of his charm. His unabashed opinions gave his fans a no-nonsense guide to travel and cuisine. But he never preached about religion. What made him impose a gag rule on himself?

Bourdain was raised non-religious. Although his mom was Jewish and his father was Catholic, religion was never forced upon him. He would casually mention on his television show that he did not believe in religion.

He only directly addressed religion directly by comparing his views to Christopher Hitchens. This system of thought is based on doubt and hypocrisy. Bourdain, like Hitchens, began his analysis of religion based upon suspicion of the supernatural. Therefore, he remained unconvinced that a deity existed because there wasn’t any scientific proof. They also note the hypocrisy of religious leaders. Some religious leaders follow sacred texts preaching peace and understanding, yet the leaders attack select groups or advocate violence. Leaders that violate their own rules and practice greed and avarice. This made it harder for Bourdain to trust their words that religion was real: “I respect people that practice as they preach . . . but hypocritical religious types make me angry.”

However, Bourdain was always talking about his personal views but never used his celebrity status as a forum to disparage religion. In fact, he distasted the view concept: “The last person I want to hear talk about politics or the nation’s conscience or obligation to the world is some Hollywood f******.” He preached for understanding and respect for the opinions of others, even if they disagreed with his own.

Unfortunately, this has not been reciprocated. In an article released mere hours after his death Catholic League president Bill Donohue declared that Bourdain would still be alive if he had religion. That misses the point of mental health. Donohue would probably not tell someone who has a broken leg that they could walk if they had faith. Mental health is a condition that cannot be helped through willpower but medical treatment.

Respect, recognition, and tolerance for individual attitudes is an inspirational message that Bourdain should be remembered for.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter