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A special note for social and
religious conservatives, mainly Christian

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Overview of "religious tolerance":

We get a few complaint letters from conservative Christians who object to portions of our web site. Many of these letters are motivated by differences in the definitions of commonly used words:

bullet People attach different meanings to the word "Christian;" we use one definition; many of our readers use another.
bullet The word "tolerance" in our web site's name sometimes raises a red flag. Although "tolerance" applied to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, etc. has a definite meaning, "religious tolerance" means different things to different people.
bullet It is our policy to compare and contrast liberal Christian beliefs, with the beliefs of conservative Christians and the early Christian movement on our web site. 

Please let us explain our position.

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Where intolerance leads:

Many faiths are practiced in the U.S. and Canada. One source lists 1,588 religious groups of significant size in North America. 1 The potential exists for religious animosities to flare up and develop into serious religious conflicts. This has happened in many other countries of the world. Religious intolerance has lead to mass crimes against humanity and even genocide. We have seen Muslims exterminating Christians in East Timor and Sudan. For examples, in the past two decades, the world has seen Christians exterminating Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.

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Our definition of religious tolerance:

This site promotes religious tolerance which we define as: "respecting the freedom of other individuals to follow freely their own religious and spiritual paths, without oppression or active discrimination against them. This is a human right promoted by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights.. Ultimately, it leads to peace in a land of religious diversity, and to religious freedom for all.

Of course, no type of freedom is absolute. We feel that it is acceptable to criticize such activities as:

  • Parents withholding life-saving medical attention from their children and relying on prayer alone.
  • Parents following the teachings of their holy book and physically abusing their children.

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Examples of religious intolerance in the U.S.

Three recent examples of religious intolerance in North America were:

bullet A local religious leader of one faith urged the government to use napalm to exterminate members of another religion by burning them alive.
bullet A tele-minister, also from Texas, once called for Wiccans to be stoned to death because of their religious beliefs. Sadly, he received spontaneous and sustained applause from his congregation.
bullet President Bush, a member of the Senate and a member of the House of Representatives said that soldiers who follow a specific faith group should have their religious freedoms terminated. 2

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Examples of religious tolerance in the U.S.

Sometimes, being religiously tolerant involves taking a positive action. Two recent examples of Christians coming to the aid of religious minorities were:

bullet Teachers had told a 15 year old high school student in Biloxi, MS that he was not permitted to wear the symbol of his faith, a Star of David. Well known fundamentalist Christian teleminister Pat Robertson spoke out, saying that: "Referring to the Star of David as a gang symbol is either ignorance or religious intolerance. The decision ... to suppress a heartfelt and legitimate public expression of faith is totally inappropriate." The school board quickly reversed its decision.
bullet Some thugs broke a bedroom window of a house in Billings MT. They broke a menorah - a candle holder which Jews use to celebrate their wintertime Festival of Lights. Throughout the town, Christians and others started displaying a menorah in their own living room windows, to show their rejection of religious bigotry, and their solidarity with the oppressed religious minority.More details.

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What "religious tolerance" is not -- (at least not on our web site):

By "religious tolerance" we do not mean that everyone must accept other religions as truth. We can believe that members of another religion are hopelessly deluded, and still support their right to enjoy religious freedom. 

We do not teach that all religions are the same. They are quite different. We do not teach that all religions are simply different paths to the same God. They clearly are not. They teach very different paths to different gods and goddesses. They have entirely different beliefs about deity, religious belief, sexual behavior,family structure, etc.

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Some of our policies:

We feel that the best way to counteract religious intolerance is through education. Thus, we try to explain the full range of religious beliefs and practices. On our essays which deal with Christianity, we describe the beliefs of both conservative and liberal Christians. We some times also describe the belief of first and second century Christians as well. Similarly, on controversial topics involving religion, like abortion access and equal protection for homosexuals, we explain all sides to each topic. These policies make us a very different religious web site. Almost all the others promote a single point of view.

We use the same definition of the word "Christian" as do pollsters and government census offices: we include as Christian any person or group which seriously, thoughtfully, prayerfully considers themselves to be Christian. About 88% of Americans and Canadians are Christian by this definition. We recognize that many conservative Christians have a more restrictive definition of what it means to be a Christian.

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References used:

  1. J. Gordon Melton, Ed., "The Encyclopedia of American Religions," Triumph Books, (1991). 
  2. See our "Burning Times Award" article

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Site navigation:

Home page > Christianity > Groups > Belief systems > Evangelicals > here

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Copyright © 2001to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JAN-21
Latest update: 2010-FEB-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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