The Tyranny of Tolerance

A belief in tolerance is about as close as America comes to a national creed today. All lifestyles are equal. No one has the right to criticize. It's the philosophy of the talk show hosts: Oprah, Donahue, Geraldo--keep an open mind, never judge anyone.   There is only one thing that is not tolerated--and that is, people who are intolerant themselves, or rather, people who are labeled as intolerant. People with moral and religious convictions. These people are considered bigots. And when dealing with them, tolerance gives way to tyranny. Some months ago, homosexual activists in Boston disrupted a Catholic ordination service. Gays parodied Christian communion with condoms used as sacraments. The Sermon on the Mount was mocked by portraying it as a defense of sodomy. A newly ordained young priest and his elderly mother were pelted with condoms outside the church until police could escort them away. The next day, The Boston Globe, described the attack as "colorful, loud, peaceful." Peaceful? If an assault like this had been done to homosexuals instead of by them, it would have been called a hate crime. It can't be said that the press has no standards; the trouble is, the press has a double standard. Where is the press so quick to report when other minorities are denounced? Where are the commentators who scour language for the faintest hint of insensitivity to blacks or gays or women? There is a strange blindness among secular reporters when the people being bashed are Catholics or fundamentalists or anyone else who holds traditional views. And make no mistake, bashing it is. We aren't talking here about normal political opposition to the church for its position on homosexuality or abortion or any other issue. Christians have entered the political arena on these subjects, and we can take our shots like anyone else. What we are talking about here is all-out hate campaigns. An AIDS art show depicted Cardinal O'Connor of New York as a "fat cannibal in skirts." Gays have disrupted Catholic masses dressed up as angels with coat-hanger halos. They've stolen communion wafers and simulated deviant sex practices. The gay Halloween parade in New York always features a deliberately ridiculous-looking Jesus figure carrying a cross. The purpose of these tactics is obviously not just to register protest or express disagreement. The intent, according to US News and World Report, is to "degrade, enrage, and vilify." The magazine calls it a "savage mockery of Christianity." Doesn't it strike you as an odd paradox? Those who say they are fighting the church for the sake of freedom and tolerance end up throwing out tolerance altogether. They demand tolerance for themselves, and then they adopt the tactics of street thugs against others. The Christian Church should not be surprised by this kind of persecution as though some strange thing were happening. The founder of the Christian Church was kidnapped, tried illegally, killed. We should expect no easier time of it. But the bigotry against the Church does say something about America's selective standards of tolerance. Against those who hold high moral standards, the worst tolerated.


Chuck Colson



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