Religious Tolerance : #ReliToleranceChat

By | July 17, 2015


Forcibly changing or ending religious beliefs has commonly been extremely difficult, more so impossible to achieve by any means short of total extermination or banishment of the disfavored group, so why not tolerate?

The concept of religious tolerance is a hard nut to crack: fighting intolerance takes both state action and individual responsibility. If the umbrella of tolerance necessarily covers appreciation for diversity, with everything that it has come to signify, these remarks may as well give a pause. In modern discourse, tolerance is not just tolerance; and even if it were, it would hardly present the best category for describing attributes towards religion. Can I be free to openly speak tongues in class? Am I free to carry with me my smaller carved god, pour libation in honor to my god on campus? Am I free to tell everyone during Wednesday Chapel service that there is no God and that they are being blinded to belief in what they do not see? Rather, we would do well to heed the wisdom of the council fathers regarding the true meaning of religious freedom.

No one speaks of tolerating chocolate pudding or walking hand in hand on a sunny day. A respect for religious freedom stands head and shoulders above a supposed tolerance for religious beliefs – with the relativism, indifference, and subtle disdain for religion it so often comprises.

The more we examine tolerance and try to apply it, the more obvious it becomes that it is simply insufficient as a principle to govern society. True? Even if it were possible to achieve total tolerance, it would be exceedingly undesirable and counterproductive to do so, especially in our primary schools were are being trained to learn to become. Just like sponge, when immersed in water, it completely collects it until drained; pupils are that fragile.

George Bernard Shaw in his play Saint Joan said, “We may prate of toleration as will; but society must always draw a line somewhere between allowable conduct and insanity or crime”. In the end, the question we ask ourselves is not whether we should be tolerant or intolerant, but then “What shall I tolerate and what shall I not tolerate?”