Intolerance of Tolerance

Posted on August 22, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Rankin Connecting

One of the most unique aspects of our American way of life is the freedom to be different. A person is not constrained to conform to a particular political ideology as in many totalitarian countries around the world. One does not have to adhere to proscribed religious doctrine as it is imposed in most Muslim societies. Many people throughout the world cannot speak their mind freely without risking the consequences of sedition in expressing views contrary to official policy.

Our first amendment rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech are simply the core of values that are foundational to being an American and upon which our nation was established. The very nature of democracy acknowledges diversity, and while the will of the majority is to prevail, it works only as the welfare and rights of all are respected and protected.

Those principles become uncomfortable and strained when society begins to diversify to the point that traditional Judeo-Christian values erode and, instead of consensus regarding certain absolute truths, morality become relative. Those who would appeal for tolerance of an aberrant lifestyle, have become intolerant of those who choose to hold to mainstream majority views.

I have been all over the world and worked among people who don’t have freedom of religion; I am incensed at the injustice of people being deprived of the privilege to gather as Christian believers or to even hear the gospel proclaimed. It bothers me that those in America who have prospered in an environment of religious freedom would want to deny that right to Muslims and Hindus and other minorities living in their community. Yes, we are convinced what they believe is wrong and may feel threatened by their influence in having a place of worship in our towns, but to deny them the freedom we enjoy is to deny our own legacy.

The danger emerges when the rights of the minority infringe on the freedoms of the majority. When one atheist can deny the rights of Christians to pray in public or eradicate references to God in the marketplace because he is offended, it endangers the freedom of all. The practice of religion cannot be confined behind the doors of a church and limited to stipulated rituals; religious conviction entails all of life. To deny me my right to faithfully practice my religion is an unacceptable level of intolerance. I am expected to be tolerant of those who may be offended by my practice of religion though they are intolerant of my expressions of faith!

Yes, it is difficult for me to be tolerant of those who advocate abortion rights and want to redefine marriage. I cannot understand a way of thinking that would justify taking the life of the unborn because it is more convenient to one’s self-centered lifestyle rather than taking responsibility for a pregnancy. Homosexuals want me to be tolerant of their effort to redefine marriage in spite of the tragic consequences that portends for our society.

I will do everything I can to preserve the Biblical standards of marriage and the sanctity of life because that is what I believe and what I know to be best for society. However, if I am expected to accept others who are different and have divergent views, then there should be a reciprocal respect and tolerance for my choices and convictions which happen to represent a majority, traditional viewpoint.

It is a sad day when the Ten Commandments, foundational to our law and society, can no longer be displayed in public places. It is a travesty when boycotts are advocated for Chick-fil-A, not because they attacked homosexual marriages, but simply because they confessed to believe in the traditional biblical definition of marriage. Unfortunately, we do have to accept those who are different and with whom we radically disagree. But that tolerance should not infringe on our own freedom to speak out, to advocate and practice what we believe.

One Comment on “Intolerance of Tolerance”

  1. Betty Jo Hudson

    Well said, my friend.

Leave a Reply

More News