January 6, 2015

Why I’m Okay with being Religiously Intolerant (Sometimes).


I’m beginning to see that I am sometimes quite intolerant. And I’m okay with this.

I consider myself Buddhish in large part because I don’t think that I have all the answers, and because I don’t think that I own the answers I do have.

But that’s just me. I believe what I believe, and I think you should believe whatever you believe as well.

If you believe in the Jesus of the Bible, I’m happy for you; if you believe in Allah, knock yourself out; if the head of cauliflower in your refrigerator provides you with a sense of salvation, good on you. I’m not in a position to judge anybody’s anything. I totally believe in religious freedom, and I encourage it whole-heartedly.

Unless your religion leaves you feeling entitled to self-righteous judgment, in which case we’ve got problems.

None of us own faith. Our personal God is only one interpretation of one God, and though He may be sacrosanct to you, He is not the only way to salvation. This goes for Jesus, Buddha, Allah or whatever God we believe or don’t believe in. We have the right to our God, but our belief should not include God-shaming. The consequences are too dire.

Kids are dying at their own hands because of God-shaming. People are being made to feel like second class citizens in their own country because of God-shaming. I have friends whom I would take a bullet for who are denied the most basic fundamental rights and dignities because of God-shaming. Sorry, but I have absolutely no tolerance for that.

Sorry, I’m not at all sorry.

Open ended question to those who use their Bible to judge their fellow humans: how do the private lives of others possibly affect your own world?

I ask because I honestly do not get it.

I have never once in my life woken up in a panic in the middle of the night thinking, “Gays have been in my house! What will that do for our resale value?!?”

I have never once had to say to my wife, “Baby I love you, but because of the gays two towns over, we’re going to have to cancel our anniversary vacation this year.”

I have certainly never once said to myself, “That teenager was born with different colored eyes than me, thus my Jesus says I should shame him until he kills himself.”


Is the crusade to stand up for “traditional marriage” (like Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, et al?) so important that you can stand by as a grieving widow is denied insurance benefits? How is that at all righteous?

Do you really think your interpretation of your Jesus is okay with a teenager committing suicide because of gay-shaming in His name? “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). Sound familiar?

Or does that not apply to those you hate?

Again, I have friends whom I would take a bullet for, some of whom just happen to be gay. My wife’s friend has a child who was born into the wrong gender. Now that he has found himself, he is happy, well-adjusted, loved and accepted. I thought Christianity was supposed to be all about love? (Y’know, like Matthew 22:39, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”)

In spite of the bile spewed by Fox News, there is no War on Christmas, nor is there a War on Religion (find me one specific example anywhere of anyone ever saying one can’t worship as they wish. Go ahead, I’ll wait). There is no open season on Christians.

There is backlash against those who would use their Bible to shame and exclude, and I am front and center on this backlash.

So yeah, I have no tolerance for such God-shaming. Call me intolerant. I resemble that remark, proudly.



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Author: Brian Westbye

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: murdelta/Flickr

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