Pondering tolerance

Forgive me if I fail, but I’m going to try to make this post more thoughtful and less…rantful. It’s a subject that’s bothered me for several years now that has reared up again with the election of the new Pope.

Why is it OK to bash Christians (especially Catholics) when the same people doing it would never dream of criticizing other religions? They’d never Buddhist bash, or Muslim bash, or Jewish bash, or Zoroastrian bash, but gosh aren’t those Christians/Catholics ridiculous with their hopelessly outdated stance on X or Y or their preaching about this or that or their refusal to allow so-and-so to do such-and-such or their horrible history of (some heinous thing). Oh, and what about those funny clothes and silly rituals? They believe what? They do what? Oh no way! People who buy into that must be crazy or idiots or both.

I’m certainly not here to say Christians/Catholics have done/can do no wrong, or that I agree with all the Church’s teachings. I’m as appalled as anyone by the child sex abuse scandal and cover-up. My point is that I don’t understand when — and why — it became acceptable, cool even, to openly criticize, denigrate, and yes, downright hate Christians when it’s so completely unacceptable to do so toward other religions?

The first time this struck me full force was several years ago, when I attended a performance of The Vagina Monologues, not really knowing what it was about, but thinking it had to be cool, hip, funny, women-friendly. Right? Instead, I found it so offensive in its Catholic/Christian bashing (especially given its very unfortunate timing right before Easter, during Holy Week) that I desperately wanted to walk out, and to this day am sorry I didn’t. I just sat there in my seat, thinking, “No WAY would those performers be up there making fun of other religions as they are Christians/Catholics. And no way would the audience be there laughing along if the show dared  to be so ‘politically incorrect’ toward what seem to be ‘protected’ religions and followers.” Who would (dare to) laugh at a Muslim or a Jew being maligned? I sat there fuming, and feeling sick. And I’m not even a regular church-goer or religious in the traditional sense, although I do have a strong faith and strong beliefs and, I hope, a strong sense of right and wrong.

Since then, I’ve observed this phenomenon many other times, in social media and mainstream media. I am so often told to be tolerant of others’ beliefs and not to label all with the same broad brushstroke. I’m expected to respect what are *obviously* honorable religions, around for thousands of years for goodness’ sake. I’d be labeled the worst kind of ignorant bigot if I dared to criticize “what I don’t understand.”  Just be tolerant, says Hollywood, politicians, academics, journalists — you know, *enlightened* people. (Actually, Jesus said it, too, but again, he has that Christian/Catholic thing going on, so….)

The hypocrisy is so blatant. I truly don’t understand why the offenders aren’t called out for it? Why it isn’t as unacceptable as, say, bullying or telling racial or ethnic jokes?

As a Christian, I am supposed to turn the other cheek, and really, what else can I do, except maybe question the hypocrisy, as I am trying to do here. I think I’m supposed to pray for the people doing it, so yes, I can do that. And I can pray for my own understanding, and my own tolerance. But I’d really like it if anyone out there can give me any insights on what I’m missing or don’t understand. I’m trying to view the situation objectively, though because I have strong feelings and an obvious opinion about it, maybe I’m completely missing the boat?

Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole
world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.
~ Pope Francis I


  1. facie said,

    Friday, March 15, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    I follow/like the Onion on Facebook, but I had to unlike it today, because I could no longer take the beyond-offensive jabs at the new pope and the Catholic church in general.

    I was thinking along similar lines as you have recently. People condemn Islamists (might not be saying that the right way), painting them all as terrorists. And sometimes someone comes along saying that Allah (I think that is their God) does not encourage people to kill and that terrorism and anti-American views are not the norm. I can accept that view; I clearly don’t know much about the religion. So why must all those anti-Catholic people paint the entire religion with a broad, negative brush, thinking it is okay to bash the religion and often those who follow? I cannot answer the why; I can only say that is wrong, and anyone with any objectivity whatsoever would agree, if they were being honest.

    • WritingbyEar said,

      Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      I”m going to try to call it out when I can, as I would be expected to do if other types of “hate speech” were happening.

  2. Anonymous said,

    Monday, March 18, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    You’re right on with the hypocrisy thing. We’ve seen it over and over again, mostly with the bashing of “evangelicals” (sp?) by our liberal friends (when did believing in Jesus and God become a bad thing?). And I think the key word here is liberal. It’s OK for liberals to bash, dictate, hate, poke fun (every late night show), even pontificate to (ha ha) any group THEY don’t like. But if you belong to one of the battered groups and lash back, then you’re intolerant, close-minded, etc. It’s just a tactic the left uses to quiet opposition. It works. And they will continue to get away with it until we stand united to say this behavior is unacceptable.

  3. pambelieves said,

    Monday, March 18, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    You’re right on! As much as I loved, loved, loved that the conclave with it’s free public relations had the whole world focused on Christians, even if only for a short while — it certainly brought out all the negative naysayers in full force. I had to actually cut off a colleague when he started to openly say that he “hoped the new Pope” would be able to “fix the Catholic religion” — this coming from a guy who doesn’t really believe in anything — and knowing how much my faith really means to me. I felt it was as much a personal attack.

    I honestly think that social media and other online platforms allow people to express their anger, frustration and hatred so easily, because they have the courage to do it behind a computer screen.

    I’ve chose to ignore all of the online banter, because I don’t want to get caught up in that negativity. I can say that there is one supplier that I’ll be replacing, because of his open political rants on Facebook. His last comment about the Pope sealed that deal for me. Maybe I don’t have the courage to get into a debate online, but I can certainly take my business elsewhere.

    • WritingbyEar said,

      Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Yes, I agree and your supplier story supports my point. Somehow OK to rant on Catholics online, but other types of hate speech would be flagged as offensive for sure.

  4. Monday, March 25, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Reblogged this on lovelyseasonscomeandgo and commented:
    This is something to think about and consider because I agree with you here on this. People have become comfortable with bashing Christianity which is not right nor fair. So we have to speak out on it. I would never bash another persons religious beliefs because they are different from mine. That shows the amount of ignorance in the world. There are so many religions in the world, so respect for another person choice is important. God does allow us the freedom to choose.

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