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Tolerance or Intolerance?

December 13, 2011 - John Stack
Friends have recently sent me articles about how Conservatives have been ‘shown by facts’ to be more altruistic as well as give more to charity than liberals. Or secular liberals. Or democrats.(I’m not sure which they mean). This is easily a way to just use misleading statistics or cherry picked data, or even plain bad data that is used as if perfect. But that is a fight for another day. I was made aware of an article that showed that racism, intolerance and income redistribution (anti-capitalists) were as related tolerant, non racist capitalists. Ie – conservatives are capitalists, Democrats are not, and take it from there. It would be easy to point out the straw man argument here, such that there actually are very few ANTI-capitalists in the US, and to then further define this small group upon tolerance and racist subgroups is quite a leap regardless of sample size. No, my beef today is with intolerance.

A Facebook friend was complaining on how Tim Tebow (The quarterback for the Denver Broncos) is being demonized by America because of his outspoken Christianity. (Stack note – this friend can find anti-Catholic rhetoric just about anywhere). She claims, as do many other Christian leaning sites, that people are intolerant of him because of his religion. First, I don’t believe people are annoyed because of his religion per se. They are annoyed by his constant referencing to God on the sidelines and in interviews. I for one am not bothered at all by Tebow’s religion or his many manifestations of this on the sidelines and in the news. I would say that if anything most people have been rooting more for Tebow than most other young quarterbacks. Why? Tebow led a storybook college career at Florida. He seemed to be able to will the team to a win. Wasn’t afraid to put his body on the line to win. But as a quarterback: he has a weak arm. He has a poor release. He doesn’t read coverages well. But his Coach Urban Meyer said of him (I paraphrase) ‘He is the best football player he’s ever coached. Not best quarterback, but best football player’.

Intolerant? I bet there are many who are intolerant of his constant cheering of the Christian religion. Many are possibly even intolerant of him because he is a Christian. But what does it mean to be intolerant? One of the definitions in my Webster’s Dictionary defines tolerant as ‘allowing people to worship as they please’. (Maybe someone should let NY Congressman Peter King on this). But again, what does it mean to ‘allow people to worship as they please’? Does that mean that if someone has a religious practice or belief, we should codify that also on secular law? Most people would say no. Except those that believe women who have sex outside of marriage should be stoned to death (Leviticus). Am I intolerant because I think that is wrong? Obviously to many people I am intolerant because of this.

My favorite intolerant theme? Gay marriage. Throughout my blog history, it is quite apparent I am pro-gay marriage. I had a friend over to my house recently who came with her girlfriend. I don’t believe I have ever seen her happier, and was most happy telling us they were getting married. The question though: Would I be intolerant to certain Catholics if I was happy for my friends, or would I be intolerant to my friends if I told them that was totally wrong? If a definition of tolerance is ‘allowing people to worship as they choose’ why would I be intolerant for being happy and supportive of my friends (I was accused of just this on Facebook today)? Seems most intolerant people believe they are not, but even quicker to say that you are intolerant. To have a state accept gay marriage, where does that infringe upon religion? Does it stop a Christian from performing some part of their religion? Can a Catholic now NOT get married because of this? It doesn’t even ‘cheapen’ a catholic wedding because a Catholic church still won’t perform gay marriage ceremonies. It’s a secular institution. On that point, marriages were around for hundreds of years and performed maybe millions of times prior to Christ being born! It was a contract , secular, between two people . The church co-opted it and forced congregants to get married in the church for it to be recognized by the church.

Now, you can believe in only hetero marriage and not be intolerant. But, when you cross the line, and vote for laws/amendments/referendums to DENY marriage to same sex couples, that’s where a religious difference becomes an intolerant act.


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