Sunday, October 14, 2012

Broadmindedness, Tolerance, and Intolerance - Further Thoughts

In my previous blog on this subject I stated that my observations have led me to the conclusion that Western societies have engaged in self-destructive behavior by their misplaced view of this subject.  So-called political correctness or pc  has developed into a form of pc tyranny.  I quoted at length from Bishop Fulton J. Sheen from his writings some 80 years ago in which he wrote, “America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance - it is not.  It is suffering from tolerance...Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded....There is no other subject on which the average mind is so much confused as the subject of tolerance and intolerance. Tolerance is always supposed to be desirable because it is taken to be synonymous with broadmindedness. Intolerance is always supposed to be undesirable, because it is taken to be synonymous with narrow-mindedness. This is not true, for tolerance and intolerance apply to two totally different things. Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to principles. Intolerance applies only to principles, but never to persons. We must be tolerant to persons because they are human; we must be intolerant about principles because they are divine.
We must be tolerant to the erring, because ignorance may have led them astray; but we must be intolerant to the error, because Truth is not our making, but God's. And hence the Church in her history, due reparation made, has always welcomed the heretic back into the treasury of her souls, but never his heresy into the treasury of her wisdom.

Unfortunately, pc has caused this confusion to take very regrettable and dangerous turns of events - the killing of the unborn is viewed by many as acceptable and the advertising consultants gave it the attractive name of “pro-choice” instead of pro-abortion; the acceptance of homosexuality unions to be synonymous with the Divine anointment of men and women in “marriage;” the idea that all religions are co-equal contrary to the commandment against false gods; the idea that tolerance applies to principles and to all behavior. The unintended consequences of many of these pc ideas over the last 50 years is manifested by such things as the high number of people living together instead of getting married, the high number of children born out of wedlock, the fact that Protestantism is no longer the largest denomination in the United States because such a large number of people no longer identify themselves with any religion, and the widespread acceptance of homosexual unions being called “marriages.”  Abortions and birth control in Western countries as well as the U. S. and Canada have caused the birthrates in those countries to decline radically. 

On the contrary, Muslims families have large birth rates.   It is in the foreseeable in Western European countries that there will be Muslim majorities.  If so, then what happens?  Will there be an imposition of Shari’a law which forbids the practice of free speech?   The Muslims are not restrained by our ideas of broadmindedness and could outlaw Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and all other faiths.  And, then, look at what has happened and is happening now -  the burnings of Christian churches in the Middle East the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Do we, as Catholics and Christians, have the fortitude to draw the line?  It seems as though we do not and that our broadmindedness and misplaced tolerance has taken us past the breaking point for this country and the Western world to save itself.  Charles Colson in his book with Harold Fickett The Faith Given Once, For All writes of this - “All societies experience what Lincoln in his Lyceum Address called ‘the silent artillery of time;’ that is, there is built-in inertia as a culture matures.  People get comfortable in their ways and become less creative and inventive - and certainly less adventuresome.  In later generations people lost their drive and become self-indulgent.  Entropy and decadence sets in.”    But, the authors quote Chesterton for the idea that Christians are “change agents” because we are optimists and are always trying to do good things. 

We, Christians, should never be intimidated with the idea of being intolerant when being accused of trying to “impose” our views on theologically unacceptable behavior.  Remember, so were Abraham Lincoln and those who opposed slavery.  They drew the line and that was wrong.  So, must we do so.

Let me know what you think.

Let the light of our Lord shine upon you!

REM (Ray Makowski) Co-Founder, Director and Secretary-Treasurer


  1. Our society is more than just comfortable with the status quo. We have become severely apathectic and use the term "PC" rather than admit to our own laziness and lack of convictions.
    We are guaranteed the freedom of speech in this country. Why are we so reluctant to use it?

  2. Catholicism is certainly not alone in its policies and laws that forbid any deviation. As a licensed Social Worker, I am bound by a Code of Ethics that is strict and inflexible in its rules and application, as well. It is not permissible to tolerate deviations from the Code, nor to deviate oneself in professional practice. Social Workers, like Catholics, must and should draw the line for their beliefs.

    That said, I do not agree that our country is in danger from our misplaced tolerance and broad-mindedness. Our country is certainly in a lull but is fundamentally strong and wise enough to rouse ourselves from relative complacency and return to the inventive and creative ways that lead to progress and making the world a better place. I agree that Christians are "change agents" due to our optimism and desire to do good works. We should not allow ourselves the weakness of imagining that the beliefs of others threaten us. If our trust in God is strong and true, we need not fear the methods others may take in this life. Our methods, our journey, lead us on our path to faith and greatness.