Casting Stones – Part 3

By: Carl Teichrib; ©2003
Fundamental Christians are to blame. We are the cause of untold suffering and mass death. We are the force behind the environmental crisis. We are the purveyors of hatred and intolerance. At least that’s what many in the New Age and interfaith movement would have the public believe. Carl Teichrib cuts through the rhetoric to get to the bottom line of these accusations.

Casting Stones: Intolerance and the New Global Culture

Fundamental Christians are to blame. We are the cause of untold suffering and mass death. We are the force behind the environmental crisis. We are the purveyors of hatred and intolerance. At least, that’s what many in the New Age and interfaith movement would have the public believe.

The following article is the last part in a three part series titled “Casting Stones”—an examination of allegations against the Faith.

The internet posting went something like this, “I’m looking for a job in the Bible Belt, but I’ve heard that most people living in the Bible Belt are fundamentalist Christians—intolerant of anyone who does not think like they do. I’m hoping that this is a generalization. If you’re a progressive Christian who lives in the Bible Belt, what have your religious experiences been like?”

There were 45 messages responding to this question, including a couple from the origi­nal author giving more detailed information about his/her philosophy on religion. The vari­ous messages responded with personal stories of how they dealt with intolerant Christian fundamentalists, religious life in the Bible Belt, and what it’s like to live in the “South”—the proclaimed heart of the Bible Belt. Not surprisingly, most postings took a negative slant.

Interestingly, the posting was in a forum for “progressive Christians.” In a caveat at the top of the page, a Progressive Christian was summed up in this single sentence: “If you are a Christian, base your faith on the Bible but do not believe it to be inerrant, and are willing to accept the presence of truth in other faith traditions, you’re welcome here.” If you didn’t accept this stance, the website offered to direct you to a forum on the “Bible for non-Chris­tians” or to a message board titled “Christianity, General.” Tolerance was the forum’s stated benchmark, even while its messages and caveat smacked of something else.

Although this web forum was focused on the “American” Bible Belt experience, the idea that fundamental Christianity is an intolerant religion is certainly not exclusive to the United States. As a Canadian, it has been very disheartening to monitor the debate over legalizing same-sex marriages, especially when the rhetoric concerning bigotry and intolerance never seems to stop; according to many letters-to-the-editors and talk show commentaries, the intolerance and bigotry of fundamental Christianity is a scourge to society, and it has to end. With this in mind, the Canadian legal system has been looking at a number of differ­ent actions that would effectively label the Bible as “hate literature” (Bill C-250 and the December 11, 2002 Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench ruling).

This type of societal intolerance, done in the name of maintaining broadmindedness and diversity, has become a factor in many parts of the world—especially in advanced Western nations. Furthermore, this type of thinking can be found within the realm of international politics and within the interfaith movement, a movement that prides itself on its tolerance.

Consider the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, which occurred during the late summer of 2001. Its mandate called for the elimination of all forms of racism, bigotry, and related intolerances. While I’m against racism—and I hope you are too—the language used in defining “related intolerances” was so vague that anyone holding any firm convictions ran the risk of being labeled a bigot. Religious exclusivity, which at the forefront refers to questions of “truth,” was hence deemed an intolerable position.

Naturally, the question of how the international community should respond to counter intolerance was of paramount importance. What should be done? How can the interna­tional community respond to this global problem?

Part of the answer could be found in a United Nations pre-conference document. This document, which gave background detail on the mandate of the conference, simply called for the world community to “eradicate, totally and unconditionally” all forms of racism and “related intolerances.” Of course, the international community (which by its definition is the United Nations) would give the definition of what would be considered acceptable behavior and would be considered actions of intolerance. Somehow, this has the ring of circular reasoning.

Thankfully, while the conference was underway, US and Israeli delegates walked out of the talks when the conference started to levy charges against Jews and the nation of Israel. It seems that the international community, in hypocritically seeking to stamp out views which differed from their own, couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

On a personal level, I have witnessed gross examples of intolerance while attending numerous political/interfaith functions. As a world systems researcher—one who tackles technical aspects of globalization—I have had the opportunity to attend a number of global governance and interfaith events. And at many of these events there is an obvious lack of tolerance towards fundamental Christianity.

At a meeting in Chicago, which discussed the issues of creating a world federalist union, I had the chance to sit at the banquet table with men from the US State Department, UN reform organizations, and affiliated “global governance” lobby groups. One of the individu­als at the table—a guest speaker who had professional ties to the World Bank—started discussing the various levels of “conscious evolution.” He explained to us that there were six levels of conscious development; the first being infants, with all their base desires for food and comfort. The sixth level, according to this individual, was occupied by Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed—men who apparently had obtained the highest degree of spiri­tual and conscious development.

Then he told us that people who were seeking the creation of a global political society and international unification—those men sitting around the banquet table—had attained the fifth level, “an enlightened state just below Jesus.” Whoever said that flattery “doesn’t get you anywhere” wasn’t paying attention; this speaker’s small but influential banquet table audience were visibly soaking it up.

But fundamental Christians, he explained, hardly made it to “level three”—tribalism or barbarianism. The implication was obvious; those men who had attained the fifth level had a high calling, a moral duty, to impose their ideas of a global society upon all others. I just listened.

A few months after this meeting, while attending a joint interfaith-global governance conference, one of the attendees referred to fundamentalism as the “main enemy” during a question and answer period. The context was of this comment was centered around Chris­tianity, and all who claimed to be Christians—including the speakers—made sure everyone knew that they were not “fundies.” This type of rhetoric wasn’t new to me. At other events I’ve attended, fundamental Christians have been openly bashed from the podium, during coffee breaks, and during private debates before and after working sessions.

I find this all very ironic; while advocates of global tolerance speak highly of diversity and understanding—and consider themselves pillars of tolerance and progressive thinking— their contempt and hostility towards fundamental Christianity reveals an inescapable double standard.

Demonstrating this realism, William D. Watkins, in his book The New Absolutes, writes about how morals are being shifted in the name of tolerance. He describes this shift, which accepts and embraces the distortion and destruction of truth and moral reality, as the “new absolute.” Close to the end of his book, he suggested a counteraction which, on its surface, would appear to be the most politically incorrect statement in recent literary history.

If we hope to stop the social disintegration, I believe we must begin by becoming antagonistic rather than accommodating to the new absolutes. We must violate the new tolerance and become people marked by intolerance. Not an intolerance that unleashes hate upon people, but an intolerance that’s unwilling to allow error to masquerade as truth.

An intolerance that calls evil evil and good good. An intolerance that keeps fantasy where it belongs—in the realm of fiction, not in the realm of reality…An intolerance to bow to intimidation tactics carried out by those caught up in moral stupidity and intellectual nonsense.

Strong words, but not new words. Already back in 1933, a controversial historian by the name of Lady Queenborough recognized this slippery slope of tolerance and “reverse intolerance.” She wrote, “Today, most of the good people are afraid to be good. They strive to be broadminded and tolerant! It is fashionable to be tolerant—but mostly tolerant of evil—and this new code has reached the proportions of intolerance of good.”

In this new global culture, where “tolerance” becomes a license for intolerance, we as Christians can expect deeper antagonism towards God’s Word and our stance upon it. In light of this, we must act with Christian love and compassion. When the foes of Christianity attempt to inflict damage through the use of rhetoric, it is imperative that believers speak the truth in love and follow through in deeds that would be honoring.

Exemplifying this, Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor who was tortured for his faith by communist rulers, wrote this concerning the actions of Christians behind the Iron Cur­tain—one of the most intolerant places in all of history,

In any village or town, the Christians were the most liked, beloved residents. When a mother was too ill to care for her children, it was a Christian mother who came over and looked after them. When a man was too ill to cut his firewood, it was the Christian man who did it for him. They lived their Christianity, and when they began to witness for Christ the people listened and believed—because they had seen Christ in their lives.

(Carl Teichrib is a researcher and freelance writer on global religious and political trends.)



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