Craig Baltz's Blog

Craig's personal ramblings

The Judgemental Nature of Some Religions

Posted by craigbaltz on December 15, 2008

“Religious tolerance is not religious indifference. It consists of valuing the right of another person to hold beliefs that you know absolutely to be wrong” (Anonymous Author).

I ran into this quote in a reading for a Western Religion class I am taking through Regis University in Colorado. It’s an online course and most of the assignments consist of answering questions that the professor asks in a discussion forum. Students write their answers and are encouraged to reply to posts other students have written in an attempt to develop the 21st century equivalent of a conversation. I shouldn’t be surprised but there were actually a few students that commented that they really liked the quote above and that it reflected their view of religious tolerance. I haven’t checked yet to see the repercussions, but I had to play the role of the boat rocker and point out as diplomatically as I could that I find the quote completely judgmental and offensive.

I’m barely a Christian anymore. I don’t even know how to balance my beliefs against the harsh judgment and intolerance that is taught in Protestant churches. I personally find the idea of any church saying “we are right and everybody else is going to Hell,” offensive. That is true even if it is my supposed church. In the interest of giving credit where credit is due the “I hate the idea of we are right and everybody else is going to Hell,” idea is not an original thought of mine (shocking!).  It comes from my ex-wife, and I liked it so much that I sometimes plagiarize from her intelligent thoughts. I find the offending quote in question to be incredibly passive aggressive and judgmental at its core. I hate to break it to the author, or anybody who likes the quote – but you don’t KNOW anything to be right or wrong. You might believe wholeheartedly that something is right or wrong – but until you are standing face to face with God, I don’t want to hear anybody tell me that they will tolerate my incorrect beliefs. Personally, I know I’m full of shit. I have no friggin idea what I believe anymore. The Christian and Catholic churches have been corrupt for so long, almost back to their inception, that I have little to ZERO faith in the correctness of the bible. Without a firm belief in the bible all of my beliefs become suspect. I seriously am to the point where I have no desire to go to church and have decided to just do the best I can. I’ll be the best person I can be, help people when I can, try to think good thoughts, and be forgiving – all the things I would hope a person would be with or without religion. And I will do that without thinking Christians, or Buddhists, or Muslims, or anybody for that matter are right or wrong. I hope you are right – and I hope that if there is a “God” that “he” is tolerant, and forgiving and loving enough to accept all good people if there is a “heaven.”

I do think it is very interesting that a quote that somebody thought was so tolerant and benign in nature, could be so offensive to somebody else. I guess it all just depends on your perspective.

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3 Responses to “The Judgemental Nature of Some Religions”

  1. First, I agree with you regarding that quote being offensive and also,I would add, that it is absolutely wrong. As you say, until you stand in the face of God (are dead) there is no way to know and even then you could be wrong. Therefor however I disagree with your presumption that the author thought he was writing a tolerant and benign statement. In fact, the statement, being wrong, is itself extreme view. By their very nature such views are neither tolerant nor benign. That is not to say that the author does not practice tolerance (as a verb) but I assume that he is not a tolerant (adjective) person. That he proactively wrote such a statement tells me that he does not tend towards the benign.

    Miss you dude!

  2. Brian S. Lumberg said

    I don’t know what churches you’ve attended, but it sounds like you may have found some bad ones. I’ve also found some bad ones, but I don’t attribute the attitude of the congregation and pastor to all Protestant churches. “harsh judgment and intolerance that is taught in Protestant churches” is too much of a blanket statement.

    The quote says “valuing the right of another person to hold beliefs that you know absolutely to be wrong”, but you respond to it by saying “I don’t want to hear anybody tell me that they will tolerate my incorrect beliefs”. The quote doesn’t say anything about telling the person you think they are wrong. Your inference is beyond the quote. I can be perfectly quiet and motionless and live by the quote. Once I open my big mouth in a “holier than thou” fashion to let the other guy know I think he’s wrong, I have strayed from the “valuing the right of another person” thing. This is my reading of the quote.

  3. Reply to Brian:
    It didn’t say that “you think to be wrong,” it said that you “know to be wrong.”

    I have a big personal distaste for people thinking they have all the answers for something that they have EXACTLY as much insight to as everyone else. I will listen to anybody, and engage in lengthy philosophical and religious debates unless or until the other person claims to be all-knowing and that unless you believe what they do you are wrong, or even worse…damned.

    I don’t care what anybody says – I have no idea if what I believe is right, I hope it is, I might think it is. But I do not KNOW it is.

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