*Keep in mind, I am not accusing anybody of actually holding these beliefs. These are if-then situations of reasons why I might care what you believe.*
1) Your beliefs affect me
If you believe that I’m immoral because I don’t share your religious convictions, then your behaviour towards me changes. It suddenly becomes okay to treat me as though you believe in ‘guilty until proven innocent.’ If you believe that my being female doesn’t affect how people treat me, then it becomes easier for you to ignore the incidences where I am treated as a second-class citizen simply because I am female. If you believe that my femaleness actually makes me a second-class citizen, then that makes it impossible for me to interact with you safely, especially if you are male, because suddenly my femaleness makes it okay to disregard my personhood. If you believe that my gender identity or sexuality are sicknesses, then that makes it easy for you to disregard my feelings as irrelevant. If your beliefs can have these effects on my life, then I have the right to care about what you believe.
2) Your beliefs affect the society I live in
If you believe that you have the right to pass laws based on your personal beliefs, then I care about what you believe. I care if you think you can destroy our planet because you personally don’t believe in climate change. I care if you want to waste millions of tax dollars because you believe the death penalty is a good thing, or we should send more soldiers into another conflict we can’t afford and don’t belong in, etc. I care if you want to destroy our education system or our healthcare. I care if you want to take away my right to choose because it’s not enough that you have the right to choose not too. This is my country too, so yes, I care what your beliefs are doing to it.
3) You have the power
If you’re Christian, then yours is the majority religion in my country. You have a degree of power as a Christian by holding a majority position, and due to the way people view you because yours is the majority position (ie. being a Christian makes you good). If you’re male you have a degree of power that I could never attain. You’re not part of a true majority, but males hold the majority of powerful positions in our society. Male have a privilege because our society views males as superior to females, even if everybody is not willing to accept that claim. If you’re heterosexual and cis, you get a power granted to you just by virtue of being ‘normal.’ In all these cases, I don’t have the power, and I have to fight just to gain some degree of equal status. I’m lucky enough to be white, so in that case I do have the power. I could choose to ignore the fact that anybody who is not white is at a disadvantage, but then I’d be doing them the same disservice that those who ignore their power over me do me. The power structure in our society makes it necessary for me to care what you believe when your beliefs make it possible for such power struggles to be ignored.
4) We are social beings
This goes back to number 2. Very few people live in a manner where they do not affect others. We are a social species. We rely heavily on each other. As such, it is important to care about the beliefs of others.
5) Your beliefs affect your words and actions
This goes back to 1 and 2. Again, we are a social species. It is impossible to not affect others with your words and actions. And it is your beliefs that inform your words and actions. If you believe that I’m a good person, then you’ll likely treat me kindly and trust me. But if you think I’m a bad person, the you’ll likely be distrustful of me and might even act aggressively towards me.
6) It makes it easier to empathize with you
I don’t only care about your beliefs if they can hurt me. I also care about them because I do not want to hurt you. If I don’t know what you believe, then I may hurt you unintentionally simply because I don’t know your motivations for doing something. If I know your beliefs, then I know your motivations, and if I know your motivations, I can understand you act the way you act.
7) I care about you
This isn’t to say I personally care about every individual on this planet. That’s not really possible, what with there being over 7 billion of us. Rather, I care about the human race in general, and I care about those in my society as a whole. But I also care about those I interact with. I care if they are good people who behave morally. Since their beliefs affect their morality, I must care what they believe. I care if their beliefs are harmful not only to me but also to others around me and to themself as well.
8) Your beliefs blatantly ignore reality
This also goes back to number 2. If your beliefs ignore reality, then you could try to implement social changes that also ignore reality, which is very harmful. For example, if you believe in creationism and want schools to teach creationism, then you lower the effectiveness of our science curriculum and cause our society as a whole to become less educated. The level of education of a society has been shown to have a major affect of the economic success of that society. We are all better off with a better educated society.
9) They genuinely interest me
Again, these aren’t all about negative affects. I actually care what others believe. I like talking religion with people so long as they are willing to be respectful.
10) And yes, I am angry because of your beliefs
Obviously not all beliefs make me angry. I don’t have enough time in the day for that. In fact, it is very specific beliefs that make me angry. Accusatory beliefs. If you tell me that I hate men because I’m a feminist, that makes me angry. Why? Because you are accusing me of a belief that I don’t hold simply because you aren’t willing to listen to what I actually have to say. The same goes for when you tell me my atheism makes me immoral, or when you say I killed my baby because I had an abortion. Your beliefs in those cases are causing you to accuse me of things that aren’t true, and they are very hurtful. So I care about your beliefs because I want to avoid that anger and pain.
Your beliefs are not held in a vacuum. If you hold a belief (and yes, we all in fact hold beliefs), then it affects those around you. This isn’t to say that beliefs are bad things, but we all need to keep in mind the power that our beliefs actually have.