There is a prevailing view within the “progressive” community that religious tolerance (RT) is a virtue necessary for a just, egalitarian society.  This is preposterous.  Not only does RT have horrific implications, it is an “ideal” that I seriously doubt is actually held by its proponents.  To begin with, lets take a look at what its advocates would like you to think RT means. RT means people are allowed to have whatever faith they want without fear of prosecution, persecution, or any other undesirable ‘ution’ and thus, RT would result in less hate crimes, violence, and a whole bunch of other nasty stuff we would rather be without.tolerance

The very first thing I’d like to point out is that all that nasty stuff that RT proponents say they’re trying to reduce can be dealt with much more efficiently.  Instead of saying, “You’re not allowed to lynch someone or burn down their house just because they hold to a faith that differs from yours,” it would be much better to simply say, “You’re not allowed to lynch someone or burn down their house at all, for any reason”.  The former of these maxims can be interpreted to mean that there are some circumstances which would allow one to lynch another, its just that differences in faith isn’t one of them.  The second, however, makes things pretty clear.  So this first short bit is just to show that basic protection laws make the common perception of RT irrelevant; if not a markedly inferior approach and a step in the wrong direction.  That is just examining the possible benefits of RT. Let us analyze the completely ignored and adverse ramifications of RT.

RT would be a restriction on society, but not on individuals.  This is very different from other egalitarian movements and why RT is dangerous.  For example, tolerance of alternative sexual orientations is a two way street.  Simply speaking, straight people are OK with gay people and gay people are OK with straight people.   If it was only a one way street, then the ideal of the freedom to be with the consenting adult of your choice, regardless of their physiology, would be undermined.

RT, however, can only be one way.  The community must accommodate the beliefs of the individual, but not the other way around.  If one is allowed to adhere to any faith one wants to (as RT says one is) then if someones faith does not include RT, then that feature must be allowed and respected as well.  Because RT is presented as a freedom of beliefs/values, and RT is itself a belief/value, proponents of RT cannot enforce RT on anyone without going back on the basic principles of RT.

So lets look at three people, each with very different faiths…

(A) “I believe that God is the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and we will all join Him in Heaven upon our deaths. I’m OK if others disagree with me, RT is important”

(B) “I believe that there is a universal energy that all life cycles through and we reincarnate upon our deaths. I’m OK if others disagree with me, RT is important”

(C) “I believe that God is the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and we reincarnate upon our deaths. Anyone who disagrees with me is evil, RT is a ploy set up by Heathens”

RT says that it is acceptable for citizens to hold any of these beliefs.  If you accept the first two and reject the third, you would be imposing your religious views on citizen (C) which is a RT no-no.  This is where the danger comes in.  If you tolerate an idea, you must then tolerate the actions that result from that idea.  Take the case of slavery, one cannot disapprove of slave owners if one approves the idea of slavery.  You must first say, “Slavery is bad” before you can say, “being a slave owner is bad”.  Back to our example of citizen (C); if we as a society tolerate his view that people who aren’t a member of his faith are evil, we must then tolerate any action he takes in response to that perceived evil, even if its the same kind of nasty stuff that RT claims that its trying to reduce.

RT, in its purist form, would be able to find no fault with suicide bombers who, in their heart of hearts, believe what they are doing is their God’s will.  Nor could it reprimand the white supremacist group hanging a black man, for their faith tells them that the black aren’t actually people, but a lesser race to be removed from God’s Earth.  If you allow that all faiths must be respected, then all the faiths that seem horrible to you must also be respected.  This is obscene, perverse, repugnant, and wrong on more levels than I can express.  I, as an opponent to RT, can say without hypocrisy or restraint that bigotry on an individual level is just as evil and wrong as bigotry on a societal level.  I can say that the members of  various Faiths who think that others deserve mistreatment simply because they don’t share their gender/race/sexual orientation/beliefs about the afterlife/etc. are wrong.

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It comes down to faith.

Believers have misrepresented faith as a virtue for centuries.  But faith, by definition, requires no support from reason, logic, or evidence.  As such, there is no possible way to gauge one faith as being superior to another.  Thus, with all faiths being equal, any morality or values derived solely from faith, are also equal.  If you say “I think murder is wrong”, I will agree with you.  If you say “I think murder is wrong because my God tells me so“, I still agree with you that murder is wrong, but I find you just as “moral” as the person who says, “I think the murder of heretics/infidels/blacks/gays/’anyone else I dislike’,  is glorious because my God tells me so“.

RT is not about being open minded.  It is about believers jumping on the coat tails of credible tolerance movements so they can  shout out ‘discrimination’ when their faith is challenged. But faith ought to be challenged, faith ought to be dispelled, and faith ought to be discredited as a source of morality.  Whoever you are, there is a faith somewhere that says that you ought to be killed.  If you want to say to that faith that they have no right to kill you and that they are wrong for trying, you have to be against religious tolerance and    faith based morality.