Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Religious Tolerance Duplicity

According to this article, the Muslim citizens of the Scottish district of Tayside are furious about a post card put out by the local police. So what's the cause of their outrage? Do these postcards, which are intended to inform citizens of a new phone number for non-emergency calls, have some blasphemous image of Muhammad? Are they defamatory to the Quran? Do they besmirch the name of Allah? What could be so heinous about these cards, which carry the image of a cute little puppy named Rebel?

Well, it seems that the little German Shepherd is the reason for the Islamic outrage. Because dogs, even cute little fellas like Rebel, are "ritually unclean" to Muslims, and therefore they have taken offense. Yep, that's the sum total of the motivation behind their fury. Seems like much ado about not very much to me. Like someone needs to be told to "get over it" and stop looking for reasons to be offended.

But herein lies my point. A religious group takes offense at something completely unoffensive to anyone else, something not meant in any manner to be offensive, something that at best is simply a reminder of a tenet of their religion, but still chooses to makes a fuss. And what is the response of the authorities and those who issued the puppy postcards? Why, falling over in apologies and the like, of course. One city councillor is even asking for an investigation into this incident.

Now, I am all for religious liberties. Even though I reject the validity of a false religious system like Islam, in a free society I also support their liberty to believe and practice as they wish and not to be persecuted for it. But - and this is a big but - there's a huge difference between being persecuted for your religious beliefs and finding offense on religious grounds where there is none intended or even implied.

Apply this level of offendedness to the Christian community. On a daily basis there are numerous public comments, news stories, entertainment events and the like that are directly offensive to Christian belief and faith. And many if not most of them are far from Innocent, but rather intended to insult and belittle the name of Christ and His people. We would be in a constant state of outrage and fury as believers in Jesus Christ if this same standard of response was adopted by us. It would be ludicrous, and completely counter to the Biblical mandates that Christ has given us. As His followers, we expect to be despised and insulted and misunderstood.

But even when the occasional over-the-top insult to Christian faith arises and we do raise our voices protesting, what is the response of the authorities and media? Is it like the response to these puppy-persecuted Muslims? Formal and official apologies? Launch an investigation? No, more likely it's complete apathy. Do you see the duplicity here in the level of religious "tolerance" in our post-modern society? Islam, Wicca, Paganism of whatever breed, you name it and the institutions of our society tolerate it with vengeance. But include the name of Jesus Christ anywhere in there and forget that. Even the Mormons (remember, the church of JC of "latter day saints"?) are seen as nominally Christian and therefore not worthy of tolerance.

Not that I am looking for sympathy or tolerance of this kind for Christianity. The scorn the world has for followers of Christ is a badge of His ownership of us. Far be it from us to seek the world's adoration or expect them to understand us. Apart from the sovereign grace of God in the Gospel of Christ, they never can or will. But let's for once stop all this silly nonsense about "tolerance" we keep hearing. It's at best a selective tolerance, which will lead only to acceptance of nearly anything. Anything, that is, except the absolute truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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