There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about “religious freedom” and the whole tolerance/intolerance arguments. A lot of this stems from the recent decision of the Obama administration to require all employers that provide medical insurance to their employees to offer no-cost contraception and abortificants – even if those employers are religious in nature and have strong moral or doctrinal objections to such a policy.
I don’t want to debate that point. The administration had to back off that stance, anyway. But it brings up a larger point: tolerance, or lack of it, of other people’s ideas. There is an irony there. For the most part, I have found that the people who scream loudest demanding tolerance are the most intolerant.
Entering 2012, the two of the largest social issues in America are same-sex marriage and abortion. In both cases, but especially the former, there are cries for tolerance. Yet, it seems that same tolerance is not freely given both ways. For example:
- In Massachusetts, Catholic Charities was forced to stop offering adoption services, because they would have been required by law to place children with same-sex couples.
- In New Mexico, a Christian photographer Elaine Huguinen declined to take an job photographing a same-sex commitment ceremony on religious grounds. She referred the couple to several other photographers. The couple filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Commission, who ordered Huguinen to pay $6600.
- In New York, Yeshiva University was forced to allow same sex-couples in their married dorms.
- In New Jersey, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association - a Methodist organization – was sued because they would not rent their boardwalk pavilion to a same-sex couple, even though the pavilion is privately owned. OGCMA also lost some of their tax-exempt status.
- Recently, a well known Dutch abortion doctor posted an article on Facebook describing, step-by-step, how to do an in-home chemical abortion, including how to lie at the pharmacy to get the needed chemicals. Facebook took the article down but then restored it, even offering a public apology to Dr. Gomperts. Meanwhile, several pro-life activists created one of those “What they think I do…” posters about abortionists, ending with the photo of an aborted child. Facebook promptly took it down, and instructed the poster to remove it from anywhere else he might have posted it. (the poster can be found here)
The list goes on and on, which begs the question: Shouldn’t those who demand tolerance be showing the most tolerance to others?
Keep in mind, in the first three above instances, in not one case was anyone prevented from anything, really. Catholic Charities was one of dozens of adoption agencies in Massachusetts. New Jersey has over 200 miles of shoreline to get married on. And there were dozens of photographers in Albuquerque to take pictures. (One of whom did) Yet in each case, instead of saying “I respect you and your beliefs, as I want you to do for me.” the “aggrieved” party or parties (with the state in cahoots) chose to trample on the rights of others.
If we are going to have a dialogue, we need to have mutual respect. Without that, nothing can happen. We don’t have to agree with each other. We can agree to disagree, and that’s fine. But we need to respect one another as people.
The good news is, in a couple years people who follow their religious convictions might be a protected minority under the law.
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