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Tolerance on the Rise?

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 06:48 am
Good Morning,

I ran across this story (link below) and had to share. What struck me the most was the amount of inter-religious tolerance this survey seems to suggest. If this is the case, I'm very encouraged.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/24/us/24religion.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin

Thoughts?
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Solace
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 08:30 am
@Khethil,
I find it disturbing that there seems to be this coorelation of tolerance and acceptance. I can tolerate other religious beliefs, or non-religious beliefs, or whatever else have you, and treat that person with the respect that is due any human being, which is the only respect that I would expect to receive from others. But, agreeing with a statement like, "many religions can lead to eternal life," isn't simply tolerance, it's acceptance. Personally I find it to be very discouraging. It's akin to censureship. It suggests that we don't have the right to look at any religion with a critical eye, even our own! Saying "many religions can lead to eternal life," is basically saying that everyone has figured out the answer to those questions regarding eternal life. If we're going to say that everyone has figured out the answer, then really no one has.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 02:21 pm
@Solace,
Solace wrote:
...But, agreeing with a statement like, "many religions can lead to eternal life," isn't simply tolerance, it's acceptance. Personally I find it to be very discouraging.


Solace wrote:
If we're going to say that everyone has figured out the answer, then really no one has.


Agree completely. Kinda 'muddies the waters', doesn't it.

I may be way off here, but it *seems* to me that this is a popular trend in religions; to be so 'tolerant' as to blur the lines (e.g., the 'acceptance' Solace was talking about). I, too, find this a bit contradictory. On the other hand, anything that breaks down barriers and lessens the friction between peoples can't be all bad.
Solace
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 02:54 pm
@Khethil,
Well, here's what I find to be bad about it, that it's just an illusion of tolerance. When people take ideals that are fundamentally different, opposing even, and brush away the confliction to say that the ideals lead to the same ends, they're not dealing with the problems created by clashing idealogy, they're just pretending that the problems don't exist. This isn't tolerance, this is the illusion of tolerance. Pretending that we don't have a difference of opinion is an inferior approach to tolerance than acknowledging that we have a difference of opinion but conceding that those differences don't need to be grounds for ostricizing one another. I don't need to tell you that you're right; I just need to be able to accept that you think that I'm wrong and not hold it against you. That's true tolerance.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 06:10 pm
@Solace,
We already have an equi-tolerant church around don't we, Unitarian Universalism.

And "tolerance" being mistaken for acceptance is a worldwide trend in "educated/cultured" social structure, I think that this trend as applied to religion is just fallout from more political versions of this.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 06:57 pm
@GoshisDead,
To say that all faith traditions can lead to enlightenment, or eternal life, or whatever word you prefer, is not censorship of any kind. Nor is this to say that all have found the "right answer" - not all practitioners are spiritual masters of some kind. Spirituality isn't a matter of saying magical words and then being right - it's about practice.

Further, we can still be critical of these faith traditions even if those traditions have truth to them. Hume's work has a great deal of truth to it, yet we manage to criticize him none the less. As a Christian I manage to criticize my own faith tradition even though I, obviously, think there is truth to the teachings.

The claims so far - I have to wonder how familiar any of you are with modern religious scholarship and commentary. Go read "Living Buddha, Living Christ". Check out Elaine Pagels and Karen Armstrong.
Solace
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 11:45 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
It becomes censorship when I am expected to accept that other faith traditions are just as likely to be right as my own or else I am considered intolerant. When the media puts forth the notion that agreeing with the statement "many religions can lead to eternal life" is a sign that people are more tolerant, then it automatically suggests that someone who does not agree with the statement is less tolerant. So no matter my conviction to the urgency of my beliefs, regardless of whether or not my beliefs are actually right or wrong, I am expected to agree with such a statement or else be viewed as intolerant. If that isn't censorship it is surely ostracization.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 12:15 am
@Solace,
Quote:
It becomes censorship when I am expected to accept that other faith traditions are just as likely to be right as my own or else I am considered intolerant. When the media puts forth the notion that agreeing with the statement "many religions can lead to eternal life" is a sign that people are more tolerant, then it automatically suggests that someone who does not agree with the statement is less tolerant. So no matter my conviction to the urgency of my beliefs, regardless of whether or not my beliefs are actually right or wrong, I am expected to agree with such a statement or else be viewed as intolerant. If that isn't consorship it is surely ostracization.


Sorry, but to equate tolerance with censorship is nonsense.

In modern society, racism is considered terribly intolerant, yet racists are allowed to freely express their opinions - just as others are free to have the opinion that racists are intolerant.

To agree that "many religions can lead to eternal life" is more tolerant of other beliefs than the claim "only my religion can lead to eternal life".

I would expect reasonable and tolerant people to reject the idea that one faith tradition or spiritual path has a monopoly on truth. But you are free to disagree, and so you are not censored.

I also have to disagree that this heightened tolerance will cause more people to be ostracized. The opposite seems to be true. If people are more tolerant of other religious/spiritual views, then people are less likely to ostracize based on religious/spiritual views.
Solace
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 08:22 am
@Didymos Thomas,
I'm not equating tolerance to censorship, because as I pointed out before, what you people are peddling isn't actually tolerance. It's acceptance. You accept that other religions can lead to eternal life. You don't acknowledge the fundamental differences between what you and someone else believes and then tolerate the fact that you will never agree on idealogy. Instead you say, the method doesn't matter, it's where we get to that matters, and we're all going to the same place. So you candy-coat your faith to look like theirs.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 10:03 am
@Solace,
Solace wrote:
... You accept that other religions can lead to eternal life....


Sorry if I've missed it, but who did this?
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 12:23 pm
@Solace,
Solace wrote:
You don't acknowledge the fundamental differences between what you and someone else believes and then tolerate the fact that you will never agree on idealogy. Instead you say, the method doesn't matter, it's where we get to that matters, and we're all going to the same place. So you candy-coat your faith to look like theirs.
The ideology doesn't matter and the end-point doesn't matter. What matters is that people get to freely determine the type of worship that works for them, if they choose to worship at all. What matters is self-actualization and self-determination. If someone's beliefs are different than mine, it's no threat to me for me to accept them or vice-versa.
Solace
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 02:47 pm
@Khethil,
Quote:

Sorry if I've missed it, but who did this?

What I was saying is that by agreeing that other religions can lead to eternal life, you accept that other religions can lead to eternal life. If you don't accept it, then you don't agree with it. As for who did it, I would have to say DT and, according to the NY Times, 70% of religious Americans.
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Solace
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 02:56 pm
@Aedes,
Quote:

What matters is that people get to freely determine the type of worship that works for them, if they choose to worship at all.


Absolutely. So are you suggesting that because I don't accept someone else's beliefs that I am against freedom of self-determined worship? I acknowledge that the person has every right to believe whatever they want to believe, that no one has the right to force any belief upon them, or to interfere with them for what they believe, but I'm not going to pretend to them that I think their belief is right.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 03:10 pm
@Solace,
Solace wrote:
I find it disturbing that there seems to be this coorelation of tolerance and acceptance. I can tolerate other religious beliefs, or non-religious beliefs, or whatever else have you, and treat that person with the respect that is due any human being, which is the only respect that I would expect to receive from others. But, agreeing with a statement like, "many religions can lead to eternal life," isn't simply tolerance, it's acceptance. Personally I find it to be very discouraging. It's akin to censureship. It suggests that we don't have the right to look at any religion with a critical eye, even our own! Saying "many religions can lead to eternal life," is basically saying that everyone has figured out the answer to those questions regarding eternal life. If we're going to say that everyone has figured out the answer, then really no one has.


It gives new meaning to the phrase, "ignorance is bliss".

I find it equally disheartening.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 03:36 pm
@Zetherin,
Very interesting.

You're quite right: Tolerance and acceptance are two different concepts completely - one does not equal the other lest we muddy the waters. The article I linked initially dealt more with the 'mass-acceptance' factor than anything else. Tolerance, as a concept, had little to do with it.

In any case, I've known a good deal of folks who honestly believe that "As long as you believe <X>, you're saved!". This being their belief, I respect that. But for my part, it feels awfully limp. In my searching I've found no reason to believe anything exists past (what we collectively call) the corporeal. Oddly enough, I find myself fascinated with books, movies and stories of the supernatural and sincerely admire those with that 'feel it in your heart'-faith. There's a full circle to atheism that brings fulfillment, but at times also a mortal sadness (one which I feel is not only part of the human condition, but essential to realize and accept towards a realistic view).

I was raised Mormon. I fell away about (actually not 'about', almost exactly) 20 years ago. When my eldest son started going to that church, I was surprised but neither encouraged nor discouraged him. He later went on his mission and to this day is very 'staunch' in his beliefs. In a discussion, during his last visit, we talked about some of the church beliefs. I was very surprised to hear that some of the 'infractions' that I knew to be dire where nowadays, 'not a big deal' (as he put it). Is this a good thing? Bad thing? I don't know and wouldn't presume to judge. It could; however, be justifiably viewed (if this is, in fact, happening) as a trend which could help break down some of the interpersonal barriers that I believe religion has brought. So hard to see the forest for the trees...

Part of a trend in many religions to avoid conflict? Present a more "live and let live" image maybe? I don't know. I wonder if others have seen this "softening" in religions taboos/mores.

Thanks for the discussion.

Be good
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 06:22 pm
@Khethil,
Quote:
I'm not equating tolerance to censorship, because as I pointed out before, what you people are peddling isn't actually tolerance. It's acceptance. You accept that other religions can lead to eternal life. You don't acknowledge the fundamental differences between what you and someone else believes and then tolerate the fact that you will never agree on idealogy. Instead you say, the method doesn't matter, it's where we get to that matters, and we're all going to the same place. So you candy-coat your faith to look like theirs.


Actually, you did equate tolerance with censorship - you equated religious tolerance with censorship. You object that the supposed tolerance is actually acceptance. In this context, they are the same. The tolerance is the acceptance of the value of other faith traditions.

Which is why I asked if any of you are familiar with modern work on the subject.

To say that this tolerance is not tolerance, to call this candy-coating, is simply ignorance of the issue. Again, I direct you to "Living Buddha, Living Christ" as an eloquent example of inter-faith tolerance and learning. Perhaps there are cases of candy-coating, ect, but we obviously cannot make such a sweeping generalization - well, if we have spent the time to actually engage the issue and learn instead of speak of what we do not know.

If you'd actually read some of the sources I suggested, you would know that the differences between the faith traditions are not glossed over, and instead are often celebrated. That's right, the differences celebrated.
Solace
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 08:20 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Hey, I've got nothing wrong with celebrating the differences, I'd encourage it actually. I do value the variety of faith traditions that are offered, the spice of the religious life, as it were. But recognizing that the values held in another religion are worthwhile, and jumping to the conclusion that that religion can lead to eternal life, is a vast difference. You caution against sweeping generalizations, but the suggestion here is that anyone who doesn't agree that other religions can lead to eternal life is being intolerant. If that isn't a sweeping generalization, then I don't know what is. And you can't put "acceptance of the value of other faith traditions" and "other religions can lead to eternal life" on the same pedestal. I recognize fully the value of other faith traditions, and I don't knock anyone for what they believe. But if my faith requires a certain belief to be prerequisite to eternal life, and a lot of faith traditions have such a requirement, then I recognize that when another religion does not require the prerequisite belief that this religion cannot possibly, according to my faith tradition, lead to eternal life. So because I take a stand in defense of my faith tradition I am labelled intolerant. Or I could lie about it, I could candy-coat it, and say what society wants me to say. No thank you, call me intolerant if you wish, but now you're the one being ignorant of the issue.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 09:53 am
@Solace,
Quote:
Hey, I've got nothing wrong with celebrating the differences, I'd encourage it actually. I do value the variety of faith traditions that are offered, the spice of the religious life, as it were.
Bravo. And I mean that with all sincerity.

Quote:
But recognizing that the values held in another religion are worthwhile, and jumping to the conclusion that that religion can lead to eternal life, is a vast difference.
Point taken. But consider - what makes a faith tradition worthwhile, if not for the spiritual path? If some faith tradition cannot lead to eternal life (enlightenment, nirvana, what have you), the tradition does not seem to be worthwhile apart from social cohesion.

If the values of the tradition are worthwhile, why would the tradition not be capable of producing spiritual realization?

Quote:
You caution against sweeping generalizations, but the suggestion here is that anyone who doesn't agree that other religions can lead to eternal life is being intolerant. If that isn't a sweeping generalization, then I don't know what is.
The word tolerance has a meaning. To say another faith tradition can lead to eternal life is more tolerant of that faith tradition than to say of that tradition that it cannot lead to eternal life.

You might not be intolerant in the way a Nazi is intolerant (I'd be one to back you up on that), but to hold that a certain faith tradition is incapable of leading to eternal life is, by definition, less tolerant than the belief that a certain faith tradition is capable of leading to eternal life.

Quote:
And you can't put "acceptance of the value of other faith traditions" and "other religions can lead to eternal life" on the same pedestal. I recognize fully the value of other faith traditions, and I don't knock anyone for what they believe. But if my faith requires a certain belief to be prerequisite to eternal life, and a lot of faith traditions have such a requirement, then I recognize that when another religion does not require the prerequisite belief that this religion cannot possibly, according to my faith tradition, lead to eternal life. So because I take a stand in defense of my faith tradition I am labelled intolerant.
And I would argue that doctrine which makes certain requirements for eternal life that exclude other faith traditions are relatively intolerant doctrines - more intolerant that doctrines which do not exclude other faith traditions from leading to eternal life.

Not to say that intolerant means incorrect - it may be that such an intolerant doctrine is correct. I would argue otherwise, but being relatively more or less tolerant does not necessarily relate to being correct, or valuable.

I guess that's the other side of the coin - it wouldn't be very tolerant to say 'faith traditions which, in their scheme, exclude other faith traditions from leading to eternal life are faith traditions which cannot lead to eternal life'. At least not as tolerant as the stance 'all faith traditions can lead to eternal life'.

Basically, tolerance is a relative issue - tolerant as compared to what.

Quote:
Or I could lie about it, I could candy-coat it, and say what society wants me to say. No thank you, call me intolerant if you wish, but now you're the one being ignorant of the issue.
It is ignorant to suggest that those who favor the tolerance of other faith traditions only do so because society expects such, or that they promote tolerance as a way to 'candy-coat' something.

I'd prefer you were honest about your views - and so I'm glad to hear that you are. If it makes you feel any better, while I'd like to think of myself as tolerant, I notice I often have an intolerant attitude towards a variety of people who do not deserve that attitude. We're all guilty of intolerance at some time or another. Not to mention the fact that, while I think all faith traditions are capable of producing spiritual realization, I think some manifestations of those traditions are not because I see their methods and doctrine as being absolutely opposed to good spiritual guidance - for example, a Christian sect that demands literal interpretation of the Bible. I have no problem with their decision to worship as they see fit, it's their business, but I'm deeply skeptical of the value of such doctrine and worry that such doctrine is actually counter productive.
Solace
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 11:50 am
@Didymos Thomas,
I think we're seeing each other's point a little better now. Sorry if I came off as offended; I think I was more frustrated than anything. Personally, I can accept that faith other than what I hold can lead to eternal life; who am I to decide who is to live? But I don't like at all the idea that society promotes the notion that I should accept other religious values or else be portrayed negatively, and being considered intolerant is a negative for a lot of people. It's basically like saying that if your religious beliefs exclude eternal reward for other religion's practitioners, that your faith is less positive than other ones who don't have that exclusive view. I mean, consider how that looks to a fundamentalist of just about any religion. In a sense, it seems like society is dissing their faith.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 12:04 pm
@Solace,
Quote:
I think we're seeing each other's point a little better now. Sorry if I came off as offended; I think I was more frustrated than anything.


Happens - and it's not like I've been immune from the same symptoms.

Quote:
But I don't like at all the idea that society promotes the notion that I should accept other religious values or else be portrayed negatively, and being considered intolerant is a negative for a lot of people.


Sure, when we say someone is intolerant, the usage almost always has negative connotations. However, the word doesn't have to be negative. For example, I'm pretty intolerant of racial discrimination, but I do not think less of myself for this intolerance.

Quote:
I mean, consider how that looks to a fundamentalist of just about any religion. In a sense, it seems like society is dissing their faith.


Fundamentalism is a strange, modern movement. But to be honest, I'm not overly concerned about how they feel about being called intolerant - if the fundamentalist is intolerant, and many are (not all), I have no problem calling them intolerant.

I also tend to criticize fundamentalism, so, maybe this is just a bias against fundamentalism.
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