TOLERANCE IS FOREIGN TO "CHRISTOPHOBES"
The unruly Rodney King made a valid point with his famous question, “Why can’t we all just get along”? I can add some questions of my own. “Why are people who pontificate the loudest about “tolerance” so intolerant of people who take their religion seriously? Why do many who preach the wonders of “diversity” exclude practicing Christians and Jews from their diversity big tent?
There appears to be a campaign to marginalize, or even eradicate, America’s Judeo-Christian heritage. We witness a flood of vitriol directed toward Christians and other believers, with especial wrath seemingly reserved for those who give evidence of being faithful Evangelicals or Catholics. It’s like a jihad in reverse. What’s going on here?
Our nation is in the midst of a cultural battle - a conflict of values - between extreme secularism and a religious world view. As one writer expressed it, there’s a tug of war going on for the future of America. The problem isn’t garden-variety non-religious folks, and certainly not members of one faith vigorously debating theology with members of a different denomination. The problem is anti-religious zealots with zero tolerance for anyone who actively practices their religion, and zero appreciation for America’s Judeo-Christian heritage. “Christophobes” would remove the faithful from the public forum, and revise our history and value system to suit their extremist agenda. The battle is evident in national news and local “Letters to the Editor.” Anti-religious jihadists would tear any form of religion expression from the fabric of American culture. They don’t believe in “live and let live,” and that’s unhealthy in a pluralistic society.
Anti-religious zealots would remove “God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. A Ten Commandments monument is dragged out of a courthouse. The Salvation Army is banned from ringing bells in front of stores at Christmas (excuse me, the “Holidays”). Religious symbols are censored out of historic city seals. Kids can’t sing Silent Night in public schools. Menorahs are outlawed. Nativity scenes are taboo. A teacher gets in trouble for teaching the Declaration of Independence because the document makes references to God.
The colors red and green - even red poinsettias - are outlawed because they are associated with (there goes that “C word” again) Christmas. Christmas trees are out; “holiday trees” are in. A telephone company denigrates three holidays by advertising “Christmahanakwanzakah” in a TV commercial. A float in a 30th Annual Parade of Lights is disallowed because it includes a sign proclaiming “Merry Christmas,” and carolers singing - you guessed it - Christmas carols. Graduates from evangelical Christian schools may suffer problems being admitted to the University of California. A government worker is prohibited from wishing anyone in the office “Happy Hanukkah." And the list goes on, ad infinitum, ad absurdum.
Such outrages were once the absurd acts of kooks, but abnormal becomes “normal” when ignored. Things considered absurd a scant few years ago (for example, same-sex marriage) are deemed “politically correct,” and too often upheld in courts of law. None of this is good news.
This is America. It’s not the business of local, state, or national government to force religion down the throat of anyone. That doesn’t foster faith; it discourages it – not to mention that it’s unconstitutional. If someone is non-religious, that’s their business. However, the rights of anti-religious zealots must end where constitutionally protected freedom of religion and common sense begins. Anti-religionists have no inherent right to tear religion from the fabric of our daily life, or to deny believers their rightful place in a diverse society - including believers being a respected voice in the political process. As Pogo would say, if the faithful continue allowing this to happen, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
When we elect someone to office - PTA, assembly, state legislature, congress, or the presidency - we elect their values, whatever they are. Never mind vacuous statements that politicians shouldn’t bring personal religious values to public office. Nonsense. Everybody takes their values every place they take themselves. Values cannot be separated from the person. There’s no such thing as lack of values, only different values.
Believers and non-believers inhabit our same small planet – a planet and people many of us believe to be created by God. America has become a great nation because of our Judeo-Christian heritage and ethic that recommends “Do unto others as we would have others do unto us.” One application of The Golden Rule would be tolerance for neighbors who practice their religion. Unfortunately that concept is foreign to Christophobes. Whatever, it’s past time for believers to stop being doormats for anti-religious bigots. We can’t stop prejudice against the people of faith, but discrimination should end. Do I hear an Amen?
POSTSCRIPT: I'm a daring person, so I hereby wish by blog readers a "Happy Thanksgiving" (NOT "Turkey Day"), Merry Christmas, and a Blessed New Year!