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Tolerance Means Respecting Differences, Not Hiding Them

Tolerance Means Respecting Differences, Not Hiding Them October 1, 2021

Don’t be afraid to express your convictions! As a pro-life activist for many years, I can testify that you will more likely receive compliments than condemnation.

I’m not saying that front-line workers like the sidewalk counselors don’t get some serious abuse. However, in ordinary situations, you will be surprised at the support you receive.

T-Shirts

A few years ago, I was in Los Angeles at a pro-life conference as a vendor with some religious T-shirts. One woman was interested in buying a T-shirt, but she was worried that it might upset people if she wore it in public, perhaps because it showed images of Christ on both the front and the back.

The message of the shirt was one of hope, a reminder that the tragedy of the Crucifixion led to the glory and joy of the Resurrection. My husband and I assured her that we had worn them to a restaurant the night before and gotten complimented on them by the manager.

As it happened, we wore them to dinner on the Queen Mary the next day too, and a passerby called out to us to say that she liked our shirts.

How sad that we live in a culture where people fear wearing something with a religious message because it might offend someone else. For that matter, why should it be considered offensive in the first place?

I don’t throw a fit when I see someone in a turban, a prayer shawl, or saffron robes. I respect the conviction of his/her faith, and I expect the same in return.

Admittedly, my husband and I normally don’t wear our Christian shirts in public, reserving them for when we are at a Christian event the same way we reserve our baseball t-shirts for when we go to a game.

Nonetheless, none of us should fear making a statement about our religion through our clothes, our jewelry or our bumper stickers.

Bumper Stickers

Speaking of bumper stickers, I have had a Democrats for Life of America (www.democratsforlife.org) bumper sticker on my car for over twenty years. DFLA members sometimes say they are afraid of ugly remarks or damage to their car if they use that sticker.

I am able to tell them that I have never had anyone be openly negative; instead, I have had lots of positive reactions. Still, a well-intentioned aunt told me that maybe I should take it off or “people might not invite you to lunch.”

Photo by Wade Austin Ellis on Unsplash

I’ll admit that being a pro-life Democrat takes some steely courage and determination, but God help me if I am ever so morally timid that I value lunch over propagating an important message.

Perhaps this fear of standing out is why people so readily abandoned observing meatless Fridays when they thought they had an excuse (although most were wrong about that: see my blog https://www.patheos.com/blogs/musingsfromthepew/2021/09/observing-meatless-fridays/); after all, who wants to be identifiably Catholic when they go out to lunch with friends? Catholics aren’t in vogue, and you don’t want to look uncool!

Tolerance, Fanaticism and Convictions

In the push for tolerance, our society seems to have gone overboard. Instead of tolerating and celebrating each other’s differences, it is as if we all have to be the same. We are not supposed to express our beliefs too strongly, or at all, or we will be labeled a fanatic.

Planned Parenthood has capitalized on this sentiment with billboards for their services that say, “No Judgment, Just Care.”

In other words, those religious fanatics will condemn you for your sexual behavior, and they don’t care about you, they just care about the “fetus.” Of course, the reverse is true, but propaganda works by making lies look like truth.

That’s a dangerous situation to create. As Alexander Hamilton said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” If you don’t decide on and live your convictions, you will be a patsy for every con game of the devil out there.

Please, dear readers, don’t ever be afraid to stand up for what you think is right or people who use fear to intimidate will rule your lives and limit what you can say or do.

By the way, the woman bought the shirt.


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