Causes of religious intolerance/intolerance.
Opposition to religious tolerance.
What causes religious tolerance/intolerance?
With very few exceptions, religions promote their ethic
of reciprocity which defines one's responsibility towards other
||In Christianity, this is the Golden Rule, defined in one of the
Gospels as: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should
do to you, do ye even so to them." Matthew 7:12 |
||In Judaism, it is found in the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old
Testament) and Talmud:
|| "...thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.",
Leviticus 19:18, and
||"What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the
law: all the rest is commentary." Talmud, Shabbat 31a.
||In Islam, this is found in #13 of Imam "Al-Nawawi's
Forty Hadiths: "None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for
his brother what he wishes for himself." 4|
If a person considers their religion's ethic of reciprocity to be of
paramount importance, then they will want others to enjoy freedom of
religion, speech, assembly, and other basic freedoms. They will give the highest priority to
fundamental human rights, as listed in the United Nations' Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and other documents. They will be
religiously tolerant, even of those who believe differently.
But many religious leaders promote hatred and restrictions of
fundamental human rights, targeting the followers of other religions,
sexual minorities, women, etc. The Bible itself contains many passages
promoting intolerance. If people give greater importance to these
teachings than to the ethic of reciprocity, the result is religious
intolerance. We see the results throughout the world, including
||Within a religion: In Northern Ireland, Roman Catholics and Protestants have
assassinated thousands of followers of each other's faith groups.
||By Christians: In Bosnia,
Serbian Orthodox Christians committed genocide against Muslims.
||By Muslims: In East Timor Muslims committed crimes against humanity
||and in many other areas of the world.
In North America, religious intolerance still exists, but it tends to take a
Religious tolerance can only be enhanced when religions, governments,
schools, agencies etc. emphasize ethics of reciprocity and fundamental
human rights to a much greater degree than has been done in the past.
Hopefully, individual members will be motivated to detect intolerance and
discrimination within their own faith groups and either work for
improvement, or leave.
Opposition to religious tolerance:
Racism has become socially unacceptable in many circles. So as sexism. It
appears to be just a matter of time before homophobia will be seen as a form of
hatred that is as evil as racism and sexism. But religious intolerance, or "religism"
as we suggest, appears to be well entrenched. It will not be dissipating
in the near future.
An article by Pastor Clarence Patterson condemns the growing influence that
he feels tolerance is having upon conservative Christianity:
||Rather than condemn opposing beliefs, some advocate tolerance toward
||Instead of fighting abortion, some suggest tolerance towards
||Instead of resisting physician assisted suicide, some recommend
allowing others to make up their own mind.
Patterson comments: "As a concept, tolerance initially sounds
pleasing and...(politically) correct. There is the notion that in
a...melting pot society, great latitude must exist to accommodate a broad
spectrum of thoughts and practices...The "tolerance" argument is
a smoke screen that diverts attention from the issues at hand. When is
comes to fundamentally wrong behavior, there is no tolerance. Wrong is
At question is the degree of freedom that society should allow
individuals who deviate from the majority. That, of course, is one of the
functions of federal constitutions -- to limit the power of the government
and of the majority to remove rights from minorities.
Some faith groups believe in absolute truth. Most teach their
membership that they can determine the will of God
through prayer and/or by reading their religious text(s), which is
believed to be the inerrant word of God. Many
conclude that deviant beliefs and practices:
||are universally sinful.
||will lead others to destruction.
||are damaging to society's morals.
||are offensive to their God.
||will cause others to remain unsaved; this will subject them to
eternal punishment in Hell.
For example, Rev. Robert Fleischmann wrote: "Don't be sucked in by
the world's cheers for tolerance. We are accepting of all people but we
cannot tolerate that which jeopardizes their souls eternally. When framed
within the eternal perspective of the human existence, tolerance of sin is
intolerable! The price is too great." 2
A logical conclusion is that deviant beliefs and practices should be
discouraged, suppressed or criminalized. This is seen as leading to the good of
others, and the good of society. Religious tolerance itself becomes an
evil, because it is seen as permitting other faith groups to degrade
societal morals and lead individuals to eternal life in Hell. The concept
that their paticular faith group possesses absolute truth,
and that other religious groups are in error
leads many people to oppose to religious tolerance for others.
A person can believe in both absolute truth and in religious tolerance.
But, sometimes they have to value individual human rights above the dictates of their own
religious group and even of their religious texts.
Clarence Patterson, "Is it time for tolerance?," Article, Baptist
Information Service, 2000-FEB-28.
Mickey Anders, "Intolerant Religion," First Christian Church,
Pikeville, KY, 2000-SEP-24. See:
Rev. Robert Fleischmann, "Is it Time for Tolerance?," Christian
Life Resources, 1999-JUL/AUG. See:
This is Number 13 of a collection of 43 sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
that was compiled by the great
Islamic scholar Yahya bin Sharaf Ul-Deen An-Nawawi. It is is now known as "Al-Nawawi's
Forty Hadiths" See:
Copyright © 1998 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2006-SEP-12
Author: B.A. Robinson