When you hear the words “tolerance” and “diversity,” what comes to mind? If you’re a casual observer of politics and culture, you react positively and you would likely assign those words to a liberal mindset in general and perhaps to the Democratic Party in particular.
Those of us who have been paying closer attention, however, know the truth. And the truth is that Democrats and liberals do not exhibit anything remotely like the “tolerance” they demand of others and claim to uphold as the cornerstone of civility in America.
Last week, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) received some attention as a result of his questioning of President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought. Sanders, of course, is an independent who identifies as a socialist but, for the sake of argument and given that he ran for and came close to winning the nomination of the Democratic Party for president last year, I’ll allow that he represents the sentiments of most Democrats.
Sanders’ line of questioning―it was more like an inquisition―focused on something Vought had written in the past from the perspective of his faith and in the context of a presentation for other members of it.
“Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology,” Vought wrote. “They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”
While out of context, these words may be jarring to hear used in public, the statement is little more than a recitation of basic Christian teaching about redemption. Sanders believes that Vought, because he adheres to a fundamental tenet of Christian orthodoxy, is intolerant and therefore unqualified for government service.
But is that true? And if so, then what of other citizen’s beliefs? To answer that question, all you need do is modify the exchange.
Suppose Vought’s name was Mohammed Vought and he was a faithful Muslim who, sometime in the past he had written that all Christians were condemned because they rejected the Prophet and that their only path to salvation was to turn to Allah and repent.
Let’s look at the theology of both of these statements. If you are a Christian, you [ITAL]do believe that all those who reject Jesus Christ are condemned. It is for that reason and because Christians also believe that all people are created in the image of God, that they further believe they are called to be evangelists. They believe they can help save non-believers and help lead them to a better life here and in eternity through their Christian example and by spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. Faithful Muslims, we are told, have a similar belief about their duty to the Allah and his prophet, Mohammed.
As long as neither Christian nor Muslim partakes in force while working on the propagation of their beliefs and as long as they don’t take it upon themselves to personally deliver non-believers to the judging God, no one should feel threatened by their evangelization―even if it occasionally gives offense or irritates. If the price you must pay for your own religious freedom is that you may sometimes be annoyed, it is a small one. There is more than enough room in our society for these respective calls to evangelization. That is what real tolerance is about.
Many Americans―of all faiths―are uncomfortable with true believers actually giving voice to their beliefs in polite society. This isn’t new and, frankly, it’s not really all that troubling. In a free society, our “comfort” is not the priority; freedom is.
When we were children, of course, our parents warned us not to discuss religion or politics in public. (Would that we were able to stick to that now). The reason for this guidepost was and remains perfectly logical. In America, because of our freedom, we have learned to accept that not everyone believes the same thing, whether it’s which faith he follows or which party they vote will earn his votes. Moreover, the conscience of a man is no one’s business but his own and to harp on what divides us is simply impolite. Or in today’s parlance, intolerant.
This does not mean that people have a right to expect no discomfort as they move about in a free society where opinions differ and faiths can sometimes clash. That would be ridiculous. But in order to get along, we have to learn to emphasize our commonalities and overlook those points of disagreement that do not seem to have a bearing on one’s public life.
This brings me back to Bernie Sanders―who, no doubt, believes that he is the epitome of tolerance. By demanding Vought disown his privately held beliefs or disqualify himself from appointment, Sanders is the one guilty of intolerance as well as of not appreciating our country’s true diversity.
Vought gave an eloquent response: “As a Christian, I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect, regardless of their religious beliefs,” Vought said. “I believe that as a Christian, that’s how I should treat all individuals—”
Sanders wasn’t satisfied, which gave rise to criticism that he was attempting to enforce a religious test on nominees. I don’t find that argument compelling, but I do observe that Sanders has shown us quite clearly how an ever growing element on the Left uses “tolerance” and “diversity” as bludgeons to enforce conformity in its quest for political power and not as ideals toward which we should aspire and hope, thereby, to live in peace and harmony with one another.