This is a post from "The Lively Tradition" blog. so good,(and succinct) I am pasting it in its entirety:
Monday, September 04, 2006
Religious Liberalism and Tolerance
The UU World Online site has been considering the question raised by Sam Harris as to whether the commitment to tolerance disarms religious liberalism in the struggle with fundamentalism. Warren Ross as a posting laying out the issue and asking:
So now, as freedom, reason, and tolerance are all under siege in our society, does self-preservation require religious liberals to abandon our commitment to religious tolerance?
He quotes William Murray of Meadville Lombard as saying,"What I would say about tolerance is that we cannot tolerate intolerance."
This posing of the question as a paradox of the virtue of tolerance is quite silly, if you ask me.
How can the tolerant be intolerant of the intolerant without becoming intolerant themselves? What a deep Zen like koan to perplex the mind of deep thinkers everywhere.
Exclusivist, Universalist religions believe that they are called to convert the world to their single truth. The two largest religions in the world: Christianity and Islam both have this gear.
The question is not whether we religious liberals are prepared to tolerate them. Of course, we are. Do we have a choice?
The question is whether religious liberals will willingly give such religions power over people who are not believers. Of course we will not.
The issue is not the nuances and paradoxes of tolerance; the issue is power.
The religiously tolerant and the religiously intolerant can co-exist, but only when the religiously tolerant have the power.
In the United States, because of the Constitution, the First Amendment and the history of its interpretation by the Judiciary down through the years, the political power of the religiously tolerant is institutionalized and guaranteed.
Religious Liberals ought to be quite clear that we will fight with all available means, and with the ferocity of junkyard dogs, to preserve our political power, against all those who would challenge it.
"Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all."
--John Maynard Keynes