Bigotry: intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself. (Webster Dictionary)
I have written before that we all “suffer” from some levels of bigotry. There seems to be something inside us that makes us decide what we want to believe and what we don’t. That leads to a certain level of intolerance in all of us. I don’t know why this is so, but it seems to be everywhere. Simply having a “favorite color” could be considered as a form of bigotry.
The problem we face as we walk through life, is how we handle our own bigotry. Do we recognize that we are bigoted, and fight our instinct to dismiss others, or do we simply give in to that bigotry and dismiss everyone who thinks differently.
I have found that most people in America actually try to fight their bigotry. Maybe not successfully every time, but they do try. That is one thing that has made our liberties possible. We recognize our bigotry yet we try to make sure that our rights are equal among everyone.
In the past few decades, there has been a “movement” to allow bigotry to become institutionalized. That is a major problem. When we use political influence to foster bigotry as a “right” that is protected under some other imagined “right” everyone loses.
The primary battleground today is “religious liberty” which by definition is allowing everyone to believe in whatever religion they desire. It is not putting labels on people simply because of their religious beliefs. If the argument for “religious liberty” remained in this field, I would have no problem, and I do, support that concept.
Unfortunately, “religious liberty” has become a code phrase for acceptable bigotry. That is not what “religious liberty” is all about. It has gotten so bad, that people like Fox News has declared there is a “War on Christianity.” That is absolutely absurd, but it rings true to many on the right.
The reason it rings to true to many on the right is because they want to be able to discriminate against others because of their “religious beliefs” which the right considers false. Thus they wish to institutionalize bigotry so they don’t have to join the rest of society and be tolerant towards someone different.
Marco Rubio recently remarked “we are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech.” Of course, Fox News is playing this up as “pure truth.” The vast majority of Americans laugh at such a stupid remark. I have heard no one arguing that “mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech.”
Yes, I have heard, and even argued myself, that super-conservative Christian cults do practice hate speech. But, that is a far cry from “mainstream Christian teaching.” What has prompted all of this? The simple fact that same-sex couples want to get married.
That is what is behind this recent tirade about “religious liberty.” It is the idea that a business which is “open to the public” should be allowed to refuse service to gay couples. It is the same idea that allowed a business which was “open to the public” to refuse service to blacks before the Civil Rights Act.
That is what the ultra-conservative Christians really want. They want to be able to decide that you are sufficiently different in your beliefs that they don’t have to serve you. That may sound innocuous, but why should a consumer have to find out who will and who will not serve them?
There are those who argue that if you open a business, you have the right to decide who you will serve. You have the right to “refuse” service to anyone you choose. It is your business after all. But, that is simply wrong. Once you open the doors to the “public” you are legally bound to serve “the public.” Besides, refusing service to anyone for any reason is very anti-Christian.
Once bigotry became politicized and put under the umbrella of “religious liberty” it became very dangerous to the very fabric of our way of life. When politicians started distorting the very teachings they claim to believe in, bigotry reared its ugly head in the public discourse.
Think about this for one minute. The biggest argument against same-sex marriage is that it attacks “traditional marriage.” Even if that were remotely true, which “traditional marriage” are they talking about? Today the argument is that marriage is between one man and one women.
In our past, marriage was between one man and several women. It was an institution where one man could have more than one wife and concubines. If you want to defend “traditional marriage,” shouldn’t we be protecting the latter? Isn’t the concept of marriage being between one man and one woman an attack on the “original traditional marriage?”
It is this simple fact of life that shreds the conservative argument against same-sex marriage. Simply moving to a monogamous marriage system attacked the “traditional marriage” of the past. Guess what, both still exist today, and will continue to exist if same-sex marriage is finally legalized.
Bigotry is the intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself. And, I will say this openly, you have a right to be a bigot. However, when bigotry is masqueraded as “religious liberty” in order to force your bigotry on everyone else, it is not only wrong, it is immoral!
Christians are not the only people who wish to force their bigotry on the general population. All religions are just as guilty. Anyone can find one phrase or word in any of the so-called religious texts to proclaim they are correct. That doesn’t make it so. But it is the reason there is so much hate between believers. Religion, or at least interpretations of religion foster this hate.
The real fear of the ultra-conservative Christians in this country isn’t that they believe their religion is under attack. It is the fact that most Americans are turning away from their religion. Recent polls indicate that the country is becoming more-and-more secular. Americans are simply not buying into the antiquated beliefs of our ancient past.
I would like to think that is because we are beginning to understand that religion is personal. That we are beginning to understand that tolerance is much better for a peaceful existence than hate. But, I believe it has more to do with turning away from the rigorous “blind faith” that religions need to exist.
Whatever the reason, becoming more secular is probably a good thing. Especially when that secularism understands each of us has some form of bigotry, some form of beliefs, but we strive to be more tolerant of those who have different opinions. To me, that is what secularism is all about. If we can achieve this one simple thing, maybe hate, at least in our public laws, will disappear. Now, that would be something to look forward to.