Religious intolerance harms society

Perhaps the greatest social issue of all time is that of intolerance. Intolerance is always present, always has been present and always will be present, simply because of what it is. As long as someone isn’t willing to put up with what someone else does or says, there will be intolerance. It is forever weaved into the fabric of society, because if there’s one thing that history has taught us, it is that people will never completely get along. It can take many forms — racism, sexism, mainstream politics — but intolerance is everywhere.

One common form of this disagreeable aspect of society is religious intolerance. Religious intolerance occurs whenever a person or group of people attacks someone for sharing their religious views.

This has been happening all too often recently. Phil Robertson, a star of the popular reality TV show “Duck Dynasty,” was temporarily removed from the show because of his comments on homosexuality, which were greatly influenced by the Bible. He simply stated his religious views on the subject, and some members of society relentlessly attacked him for it.

This, and other incidents like it, illustrate that religious intolerance is alive and very well in America, and in the world at large — a very unfavorable fact. The problem with intolerance is that it turns society against itself. It pits opinion against opinion, person against person, and group against group. Its very nature is one of division.

In addition, many cases of intolerance are extremely one-sided. If someone says something deemed ‘controversial’ that condemns one side of a disputed topic, such as gay marriage, a topic that is infested with intolerance, then that person may come under heavy fire for voicing that opinion. However, if they say something equally as divisive that supports the same side of the dispute, they may not come under attack — in fact, they may even receive praise. This one-sidedness furthers the caustic nature of intolerance.

Another thing that makes religious intolerance so undesirable is the fact that this brand of disagreement deals with a central aspect of many peoples’ beliefs — their religion, as the name implies. One’s religion is a core aspect of who that person is. When religious intolerance takes hold, the intolerant are therefore not only refusing to endure the religion, but the followers of it as well.

In America, religious intolerance usually takes the form of a group or groups criticizing others for expressing their views, as was the case with Robertson. This is contrary to everything that America is built on. The original 13 colonies were partially founded for religious liberty, for freedom from the oppression that religious intolerance brings. Over time, this concept was expanded into one of respectful liberty. All people have the right to practice and to voice their religion.

It is legal to verbally brutalize those whose opinions one doesn’t agree with, but it isn’t morally sound. It goes against that American policy of respectful liberty, as if the intolerant are trying to shut down someone’s right to voice their religious opinions. When someone comes under fire for voicing their opinion, they are coming under fire for exercising their basic American rights. This should never happen. It would be acceptable, perhaps even encouraged, to argue with someone’s opinion, but attacking the person himself for stating the opinion is wrong.

Religious intolerance is a poisonous thing, and is only capable of producing problems. It goes against the American way and is corrosive to society. Perhaps if the intolerant learned to disagree with opinions in a more calm and logical manner, society would be on its way to lessening the impact of bigotry.