11/17/2005 08:41 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Incredible Intolerance of the Religious Right

Is not what this essay is about. Instead, I must admit to rather a noticeable degree of surprise over the extent of response to my last post. It had, after all, the rather modest goal of showing that the so-called problem of evil was not the disproving of God’s existence as some seemed to suggest. I made no positive argument for God’s existence and implied no disrespect for those who come to a different conclusions on the implications of the various evidences that one might consider. One would have thought, rather, that I had committed the ultimate faux paux--showing up on a politically left of center blog to suggest that there might be something to all this “God talk.”

(I have omitted a couple of paragraphs to keep it short. Go here for the complete version.)

There is, however, a much bigger point to all this, which is simply: we are currently faced with an administration that is rapidly leading this country down a very unfortunate path, and those of us who see that must learn to put aside our disagreements where we can and make common cause where we can. I will not be deterred from the causes to which I am committed, particularly because my Christian faith leads me to them. So, the criticisms my recent post garnered do not bother me personally (I relish these sorts of discussions as some who wandered over to my blog know), but they did raise a question about tolerance and mutual respect. We folks who are politically left of center like to point out how intolerant those “righties” are, but I wonder if we have yet outgrown that which we so easily critique? In the last election, it has been argued that Christian voters were the cause for the election of the current administration. Do you suppose we are going to get them to see the errors of this administration if we insist upon heaping ridicule on their religious belief? In fact, we might consider that there are many who voted against the current administration who would not have done so if they had felt the “other side” had so much energy to spend attacking their faith. Recently, I had a student attend a left of center religious event where he received so much abuse for his strongly held Christian beliefs that, afterward, he said to me, “I despise, on Christian grounds, so much of what this administration stands for, but I am about ready to vote Republican over the treatment I received at the hands of those who are supposed to be my ‘friends.’”
However you view it, the facts on the ground are that nearly 90% of Americans believe in the existence of God. While that does not prove God exists (consensus alone is not adequate proof, the majority could be wrong), it is clear that if you alienate all religious believers, you will be unable to accomplish anything politically. Perhaps some enjoy tilting at windmills, but why do we not agree to believe and let believe? Further, might we consider the following: when secular belief leads someone to embrace some political position or other and my religious beliefs lead me to embrace the same position, let us extend mutual respect and together strive to over come the darkness that threatens us?