Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bigoted? Intolerant?

I was struck, hard, by one particular sentence in this article over on Witchvox. By way of explanation, I read a small, eclectic array of religious blogs, ranging from Christian, to Pagan and Wiccan, to Muslim, to athiest and others. Just because I am a Christian doesn't mean I can't appreciate the life-loving sentiments of Heartsong's Hymnal or the painful finding-yourself testimonials in the articles written by Witchvox teens. There are alot of leadership and growth and spiritual health practices that cross religious lines in eerie ways, showing that worship has borrowed from itself for so many centuries and that people are so predictable (psychohistory, anyone?) that some of the traditional trappings of religion are really the bonds formed through community. The same bonds that we have shed with the idea that they're 'religion' and religion is bad. Our communities, and our lives, are poorer for it.

Regardless of my justification - edging towards rationalization - of reading a myriad of religious blogs outside of my own practices, the article I mentioned previously struck me as bitter. The author was burned and burned hard and I have nothing but good wishes for them. Like all good articles, this one made me think. One particular sentence, however, made me think alot. I even got around to asking religious questions of those I know can handle religious discussions. The sentence that settles wrong with me on a very fundamental level is:
"Jesus is the only way, truth, and light, and no one gets to the Father but through him". Say what you want, but that is an intolerant and bigoted belief.
Let me see if I can pinpoint why this sentiment and understanding bothers me so much. Quoted here, it's slightly out of context. That's okay. I'm not really wanting to put it back in context, because the context isn't what bothered me.

No, what sits wrong with me is the underlying idea that, "I believe I'm right." is somehow intolerant. Not even doing anything about it. Just walking up to someone and saying, "I believe I'm right. I believe you're wrong." A statement, to the person who says it, of incontrovertable fact.

Tolerance, as defined by Websters, is: "a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own b: the act of allowing something"

Alright then. So I tell someone I think they're wrong. Is that me being intolerant? Or is it intolerant on the part of the person who I'm telling if they shut me down completely and get pissed off that I've 'infringed upon their rights as a human being' by telling them that I really do think they're wrong.

I don't have a right to be right. Neither do you.

It could easily cross into intolerance (and downright harassment) on my part if I insist on giving you the 'you're wrong' speech long after you've told me to knock it off. But me telling you that that's what I believe? No. No, I don't think that's intolerant.

I think I should cut this short before I go on several tangental rants about religion, but that's all my argument is. Telling someone they're wrong isn't intolerant. If it is, we're all intolerant, insensitive, and doomed to horrible existences.