For much of the 20th century in America, there was a push for the American people to be more tolerant of other people’s religious beliefs, lifestyles, and philosophies. The idea of tolerance in America would be okay, seeing that our country was founded on the basic principal of freedom of religion. The U.S. Constitution grants us these rights through the following clauses, which were established in the First Amendment:
The Establishment Clause states that Congress shall make no law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause is generally interpreted to mean three things. 1) That the Congress may not establish an official religion or denomination and require people to support it or believe in it. 2) The Congress may not favor in its laws one religion or denomination over another, and 3) Congress may not favor or disfavor believers or unbelievers in any religion or denomination over any other.Read more: http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/establishment-clause.html#ixzz3eLdGIgxS
The Free Exercise Clause is the part of the 1st Amendment that reads like this (in bold) – “Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof.” Read more: http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/free-exercise-clause.html#ixzz3eLfQMMKd
There are even tons of websites and organizations that promote and protect religious tolerance in America. It amazes me that our culture pushes this idea of tolerance with the exception or exclusion of the religion that our very country was founded on, Christianity. It seems that there is a growing population of people who have adopted an intolerant attitude towards Christianity. I am in no way saying that everybody in America adopts this hypocritical view of Christianity, however, there seems to be an overall sense from most people that Christians need to be tolerant of all other religions, lifestyles, and philosophies, at the expense of denying our rights to exercise our religious beliefs. There seems to be a misconception of the meaning of the word tolerance. I think the original concept of tolerance in America was intended to establish acceptance and prevent discrimination and inhumane treatment of everyone, which coincides with Webster’s 2nd definition of tolerance: 2. a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tolerance
Tolerance in America should include the following:
1. No one person or group of people, including Christians, have the right to infringe their beliefs upon another group of people. Yet, I am finding that many people are substituting this idea of tolerance for adoption. There can be mutual respect for different beliefs, however, this does not mean that one party has to adopt the other parties beliefs to prove that they are tolerant. Everyone can have sympathy without adopting and indulging in other beliefs.
2. What happened to respecting religious freedom when it comes to Christianity? Many people believe this respect to be fundamental rights for every American but have you ever seen the conversation or moods change when there is a discussion of protecting this right for Christians? Tolerance of religion must include Christianity and more conversations should take place about protecting this right and what it should look like. For example, Christians are not allowed to use the word Christmas (in most public & state workplaces) to be tolerant of other religions, however, this is an infringement on the First Amendment rights for Christians.
3. Christians should model their lifestyles after the grace based teaching of Jesus Christ, love people without judgment and adopt loving, accepting, and respectful attitude towards people with different beliefs. After all, isn’t the whole principal of Christianity based on Jesus completing something for us, that we could not do for ourselves because of our own inability to overcome sin alone?
4. Everyone should try to “stay in your own lane” or in vintage terms “mind your own business”. More overall respect for each other and our privacy should take place. I know that this is a dying courtesy in this day and age of social media, however, it is a courtesy that should be a fundamental practice. I know that a lot Christians will read this and cringe, saying “…but its our job to witness to unbelievers.” True, however, Proverbs 11:30 states that “…he that wins souls is wise.” The wisdom to win souls will come directly from God has you encounter people on a day to day basis, which can be as simple as, you treating people right on your job or maintaining a positive attitude when you work in a stressful environment.
We should all re-examine the idea of tolerance and examine our lives and beliefs to ensure that we are living up to the standards that our founding fathers (who were also Christians), outlined for our country in the U.S. Constitution. It would be a shame as a nation to be so tolerant of other beliefs, that it causes us to be intolerant of the faith that built this country. Being tolerant should not be at the expense of losing our own beliefs or identities.