April 7, 2008

Pursuit Of Religious Tolerance Reveals...Christian Intolerance

Whenever I hear the phrase "religious tolerance," I expect I'll be treated to some atheist bashing, as this phrase always seems to mean that we atheists should be more tolerant of believers who wish to delude themselves. You see, the religious rarely seem to think that we are deserving of tolerance, understanding, or compassion. Fortunately, there are exceptions, and this post will report on one of them. However, before you get the warm fuzzies, I'll let you know now that this one doesn't end well.

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Pine Creek High School is trying to promote religious tolerance. A student group, Students Learning Acceptance Through Education, invited local religious leaders and even a token atheist to speak to 150 students about "tolerance and faith."
Panelists for the 90-minute event were Rabbi Mel Glazer of Temple Shalom; Steve Mahone, a past president of Freethinkers of Colorado Springs; Arshad Yousufi, spokesman for the Islamic Society of Colorado Springs; Christopher Phelps, a Catholic studying to be a deacon at the Diocese of Colorado Springs; and Sam Bhatt, youth minister of the evangelical church The Gathering at Jackson Creek.
Panelists were allowed 10 minutes each to speak about their beliefs and respond to questions. Barely enough time to be worthwhile but possibly still better than nothing. At least the students would learn one important truth before the event was over.
The only prickly moment came when a young woman asked Bhatt how evangelical Christians can say they don't consider themselves better than others when they believe they are the lone possessors of truth.

"You are not equal to my belief system, but I'll love the lost person either way," Bhatt told her.

Glazer turned to Bhatt and asked, "She is not going to heaven?"

"Correct," Bhatt said.
Leave it to the evangelical Christian to be unable to handle the tolerance event without condemning everyone else! Oh, but he didn't condemn them - just their beliefs (i.e., hate the sin, love the sinner). Really? He indicated that other people are "not equal" to his belief system and that they were going somewhere other than heaven. If that isn't condemnation of others simply for having different beliefs, I'm not sure what is.

Actually, I am happy that the students in attendance were able to learn this important lesson. This evangelical Christian, while not necessarily representative of all evangelical Christians, was anything but tolerant.

I suppose the atheist might have said that all the believers were wrong. We don't know this, but I most certainly would have. Still, I wouldn't have felt it necessary to devalue the other people as being worth less than I was, and it wouldn't have occurred to me to point out that they would have a different fate than I would.

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