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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Tolerant or Doormat?
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Posted: November 13th. 2011
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Sometimes you just have to be tolerant of others if you want them to be tolerant of you. I’ve always been one of those people that say that if you want to be tolerated you must be tolerant. It’s a two way street for me (like respect and racism) .
I’ve often wondered however how can you be sure to walk the line of tolerance without being a pushover? No one should have to be a doormat when discrimination is concerned. The laws on Religious Discrimination can vary from country to country but whatever allowances the law gives should be enforced.
My tolerance is fairly low, in that I have a bad tendency to snap under pressure. It’s difficult to have to bite your tongue for hours on end and that’s what I have to do often. I love my family, I do. I love my friends as well, so I feel that it’s my duty out of love to make sure that I reduce the possible tension from their knowing I’m a pagan by keeping OFF the topic of religion. My grandfather is not always deterred. While I lived with my grandparents for a, thankfully, short period of time I had to watch Joyce Meyer every morning on God TV – Don’t get me wrong I would have loved to have avoided it and given the choice would have... but I was giving my son breakfast in the dining room which is adjunct to the living room every morning at that time. Even if I didn’t face the screen, I still had to hear the spiel. Later and throughout the day, my grandfather would try to have religious discussions with me…although he has thankfully taken the tact of NOT telling me I’m going to hell and saying I’m evil.
I try to be tolerant of evangelists in the street who attempt to engage me and doorstop-missionaries who are intent on seeing who can keep their smiles on for the longest after being sworn at for about three hours. I’ve even met the types who try to ‘get you’ on the bus or train.
I do my best to be polite, not swear, and understand that they give out those tracts because they feel it’s part of their religious obligation to bring as many people to Christ as they can. The really sad part is that a lot of them are doing it because they actually do care about our immortal souls (and are possibly ignorant in some cases of there being any other acceptable way) .
The ones who don’t care about our immortal souls, the ones that are all about “It’s MY way or the HIGHWAY TO HELL” are the ones who cause my patience to really snap. You know, the ones who just don’t get the polite “no” and keep going.
The Religious Discrimination laws within the United Kingdom state that anyone who manufactures and distributes information designed to create religious hatred is discriminating. Thus it’s against the law.
If you’ve read Kerr Cuhulain’s Witch Hunts series here (and I frequently do from my phone that allows me to read Witchvox but not sign on) then you’ll probably have seen his article on Jack Chick. You may well have also seen some of his tracts. I first saw those tracts when I was 13, still Christian, and visiting my grandparents who had some. I had no idea how wrong they were at the time.
The reason that I bring them up now, knowing how long ago ol’ Jack started on his soap box with them, is that I received one through my door within the last year… the one entitled “Party Girl” (although the inside was actually one to do with Halloween not Mardi Gras) .
It had been put through by an American gentleman (at the time I was extremely surprised since I was in Fakenham, Norfolk [a town some people think is made up because of the name] and it wasn’t exactly a popular tourist spot for our cousins overseas [and in my case, I literally mean ‘cousins’ as I have so many American relatives I can’t even keep count]) . Although with the power of 20/20 hindsight I have a feeling that he came from the U.S. Air Force Base close by.
I know what gentleman put it through because I was at home with my son at the time it was put through. Immediately upon getting it – I ran out of the house and called him so that I could give it back. This lead to the standard, “Can I ask you a question? Do you want a relationship with Christ?” conversation. I admit it. I was ruder than I would have like to have been at this point.
I also admit that I didn’t know the English law on Religious Discrimination at the time. Had I known that it had encompassed the manufacture and distribution of material designed to incite religious hatred – I’d have kept the tract, asked for his name and reported him to the police.
It is a criminal offence under the law. The reason I have stated that I would have reported him is because -- despite the age of Chick Publications (a company older than myself) -- I believe that people shouldn’t be allowed to carry on without challenge.
Continued distribution of work designed to incite religious hatred shouldn’t be allowed within the United Kingdom (shouldn’t be allowed anywhere, but I don’t know the international laws on the subject) . I may not be able to stop Chick Publications – but I feel I SHOULD try to stop individuals and churches from being able to distribute them. That being said... I’m not going to go out of my way to find them. I’ll report them if I receive another Chick tract, or any tract by anyone that is designed to do the same thing, but beyond that I’m not going to go searching.
Our rights to practice our religion don’t supersede anyone else’s rights and I’m sure we all agree on that point. However if we’re going to be sure that we’re tolerant without being doormats we have to know what it is that they believe and to be able to call them on it when they cross the line. Crossing the line in my point of view, within a country that allows for religious freedom, is when you break the laws of the land and spread lies about another’s faith.
Yes – Christians have to witness to other people – this is a religious obligation to them as serious as wearing a Turban or eating Halal – I don’t resent them for this. Some are quiet and choose to do it by just living a good life. Others are out and out accosting you (politely or enthusiastically) in the street. My family and friends have backed off some and this is fine by me because since I’m not trying to convert them to my belief, I’m happy to let sleeping dogs lie.
No – Christians do not have to spread lies about our faith. This includes tracts that state we steal children and sacrifice them, eat babies, or summon demons etc. Not only does it cause fear and hatred (against the law) , but also it’s uncalled for. Some say that they have to denounce others who are ‘agents of the devil’ – and they might just claim that as a practice of their belief. This does not hold up in a court of law however because other more serious crimes can arise and the legal authorities cannot allow that to happen.
So be polite, be tolerant, and lead by example. We can live along side each other without anger. Show them that we’re willing to play nice if they do. Don’t, however, allow them to cross that line into discrimination.
Do be tolerant. Don’t be a doormat.
1. http://www.religionlaw.co.uk/ - "Incitement to Hatred"
2. http://www.witchvox.com/_x.html?c=whs - Kerr Cuhulain's Witch Hunts Series
3. http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=cabc and c=whs and id=4638 - Jack Chick article by Kerr Cuhulain
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