Xref: taco alt.atheism:13259 alt.pagan:8492 talk.religion.misc:44201
From: email@example.com (William Mayne)
Subject: Tolerance in Religion (Was Re: GIVE ME A BREAK!!)
Date: 12 Aug 91 16:45:59 GMT
References: <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com>
Organization: Florida State University Dept. of Computer Science
In article <firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com (bill nelson) writes:
[Answering the question:]
>>So why is it that the people in this group [alt.pagan, but applicable in
>>other groups to which this is posted] are so interested in attacking
>Yes, Pagans also have their fundamentalists and hate mongers. Fortunately,
>they tend to be in much smaller numbers than the Christian and Moslem
As I will show, this is no accident, and not because pagans are naturally
[Again quoting the earlier post:]
>>Remember salvation is only through our Lord Jesus Christ. We await and
>> pray for His return Amen!
>And you want tolerance from others. Do you know what a hypocrite is?
Before I lose all of my audience let me get to the good stuff, namely
an excerpt which makes the case far more eloquently than I can.
My own comments on the above and the quoted material below follow.
[Excerpts from "Tolerance in Religion", an essay by Francis Story,
reprinted in "The Buddhist Outlook", Buddhist Publication Society, Sri
Lanka, 1973, pages 229-231.]
*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
"If all who died outside the faith were condemned to eternal damnation,
it was clearly the duty of the believers to save them at all costs.
There could be no question of tolerating other religions which, by
definition, were evil...
"From such a viewpoint as this, tolerance could never be seen as a
virtue, but only as a reprehensible weakness of faith or a disregard
for the welfare of others...
"But whatever the motive, or mixture of motives, the central fact on
which it all rests is the teaching of the exclusiveness of salvation.
The more firmly this belief is held, the less possibility there is of
tolerance. It is only when the religious conviction weakens that the
bare possibility of tolerating other faiths can make an entry...
"To die an unbeliever is to die in an irreversible state of sin. It is
not my purpose here to point out the injustice and illogicality of this
view; it is already apparent to everyone who has thought seriously
about it with an unbiased mind. Yet for the past two thousand years it
has been the prevailing religious idea in the West, and it still shapes
the religious thinking of many people...
"In the case of most theistic religions, therefore, tolerance can only
be regarded as an unhealthy symptom, a sign of approaching
dissolution. The robust believer does not understand it; to him, the
prime duty of life is to draw others into the fold, and for this
purpose he will use any means whatsoever. If by torture a man may be
coersed into accepting the "true faith", and so saved for eternity -
let him be tortured. If he is obdurate, and likely to be a source of
infection to others - and particularly if, like Giordano Bruno, he is
intelligent enough to be listened to with respect - let him be killed.
Rather one man should die than a million should be led to damnation by
his heresy. That is the warped morality that inspired the Inquisition,
and it is still with us. Only weakness prevents it from functioning as
in former times.
"Accepting the initial position, that salvation is granted only on
acknowledgement of one particular god and church, the conclusion is
logical enough. The warping of the moral sense comes about not through
wilful perversion but through an initial error, blindly accepted and
conscientiously carried to its extreme."
*** END QUOTE *** [emphasis added]
Lately there has been a rash of these types of exchanges. The usual
defense given by Christians is "Don't judge all Christians by what
luny fundamentalists do." I have done my fair share of Christian
bashing, but should make it clear that I do not claim that all Christians
are in fact bigots, nor that bigotry is confined to exclusive theistic
religions. What I do claim is that intolerance, far from being an
aberration in Christianity, is a natural and logical consequence of
orthodox doctrine - regardless of any high minded morals which may have
also been taught by Jesus Christ or the religion built around him by
Paul and others. Among all the religions I know Islam alone shares
this philosophical weakness and resulting bloody history. Human nature
being what it is bigotry will indeed be found in any group. What sets
a few apart is that the bigotry found there is not just human frailty.
The official beliefs in practice encourage and actually stimulate it,
whatever their professed intent. Hence am not making the error of
confusing a sublime philosophy with the acts of its all too human
adherents. I am actually making a distinction between the religion and
the followers and directly attacking the religion itself. To the extent
that followers are sincere and logical the criticism applies to individuals
indirectly. They too are victims of a perverse idiology.