Tolerance Is a One-Way Street

Buhler KS seal at their city park that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is threatening to sue over.
Buhler KS seal at their city park that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is threatening to sue over. | Source

I sit here and I think "Where do I even begin?" Tolerance is a two-edged sword that is normally wielded carelessly. Every issue has two sides but it is funny how some issues scream of one-sidedness.

Lets start with events taking place in the tiny town of Buhler Kansas. A town founded over 100 years ago by immigrants seeking refuge from religious persecution in a country that was founded on the belief that you are free to believe in whatever for of deity you choose. The town seal features a cross and they are now being heavy-handed into removing it from their seal because a national group, not a local group, is threatening to sue if it is not removed. Tell me, who was hurt by this to warrant spending taxpayer money to remove, redesign and reconstruct the seal? Who stayed awake at night because of this horrible symbol was nagging at them like a sore tooth? Not a soul. But we have fellow countrymen with nothing better to do that hunt down and persecute that which they do not understand.

The real problem is that this is indeed a one-way street. What if the seal had the Islamic symbol of a crescent moon and star on it? Would the same group have complained? Hmm.

Then we have the case of a World War II memorial that is of Jesus that is near a Montana ski resort that has the go ahead of a U.S. District Judge to hear the case. This all because ONE man, an atheist, who happens to live nearby and skis at the resort says he finds the statue of Christ offensive every time he skis by it. Really? Again, how is this statue hurting this man? Is it blocking his skiing path? Is the statue judging him? No one else has complained - except this one person and that warrants tearing a part of that towns history down?

Big Mountain Jesus, a statue placed in 1954 to honor World War II veterans, has recently been challenged as unconstitutional.
Big Mountain Jesus, a statue placed in 1954 to honor World War II veterans, has recently been challenged as unconstitutional. | Source

Tolerance is indeed a one-way street. This man, William Cox, an atheist, sure is worried quite a bit about a symbol of God, something he doesn't even believe exists. Should this even be heard in court? One man is offended and now the rest of the community must bow to his insecurity? What this screams is that we should tear down, abolish or hide away anything that even one person finds offensive. We might as well go back to the Dark Ages. Every single person has something that offends them that isn't offensive to hundreds of others.

Let's see... those idiots who walk around with their trousers down to their knees with their underpants exposed... that offends me... So, I should sue the city to make it illegal for them to walk around in public like that and send their loser butts to jail.

How about cars with bumper stickers expressing support for evolution, homosexuality or that whole idiotic "coexist" nonsense? I find those offensive. I think the driver should be pulled over by the police and issued a ticket and fine or remove them from their cars.

The point is, if it relates to anything other than a Christian belief people tend to tolerate that things existence. But as soon as it gets labeled Christian it now becomes offensive. That is so ironic.

The real truth?
The real truth?

I think the cross should remain on the seal in Buhler KS, removing it to me would be offensive. I think the statue in Montana should stay. Taking it down to me would be offensive. Why is my feeling any different that the one person complaining? If we are going to allow one person or group to dictate the rules, who is to say who is right and who is wrong?

The problem is something Jesus pointed out 2,000 years ago:

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you."

The world hates Jesus. It hated Him and therefore it hates those who strive to be like Him. It hates the ideals that He represents. They either cry "coexist" really meaning keep your Christianity to yourself, or they unknowingly feel convicted when something that represents God and His Truth presents itself to them.

The atheist in Montana lives 15 miles from the ski resort. The only thing that statue is doing to him is making that Jesus shaped hole in his soul feel something he doesn't quite understand or like. And his first response is to tear it down. If it isn't there I am not reminded of my iniquities.

If people truly believed in their idea of tolerance, coexistence, whatever, they would see the hypocrisy of what they believe. They would see that the thing they are complaining, while they may not agree, isn't really hurting anyone and probably brings comfort to another person. We need to get past ourselves.

Should the cross on the seal and the Jesus statue remain?

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Comments 19 comments

Porshadoxus profile image

Porshadoxus 4 years ago from the straight and narrow way

Well stated. Voted up.

JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

Completely disagree. Christians are not exactly known for their tolerance or acceptance, and a soon as an atheist our someone of any other religion disagrees, they cry persecution our claim that their religious freedoms are being suppressed. It simply isn't true. Disagreeing is not persecution, and its not an attack. The fact of the matter is that your rightt to swing your arm ends at the tip of my nose. Your religious freedom does not include the right to impose your beliefs on everyone else. How can you possibly claim intolerance when the Christians are the majority, anyway?

Nick Burchett profile image

Nick Burchett 4 years ago from IL, MO & KS Author

Please explain how a sign with a cross on it or a statue of Jesus is an attack on someone and intolerant? Tell me why the atheist has a right to stifle a Christians belief but the Christian does not have the same right to stifle the atheists non-belief? That is hypocrisy. I have no problem with a non-Christian stating their belief, but when that belief is not reciprocated you are talking hypocrisy. The seal is WANTED by that community. It is an OUTSIDE source that it has no effect on that is complaining. That statue has been there LONG before that man was out there skiing and has never been a problem - until one selfish person with nothing better to do but use his lack of belief as an excuse for his own inner turmoil. Not sure were you get your figures and facts that Christians are the majority - they aren't. You certainly have the right to disagree, and I thank you for the non-attacking response.

jdflom profile image

jdflom 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA

JMcFarland brings up some good points, especially about imposing beliefs on others. I know that I have witnessed more Christian (since they are the majority in the United States) intolerance than other groups. I think people easily forget that their own group can be intolerant when they mainly agree with their group.

That brings me to the following quote that I like a lot: “The town seal features a cross and they are now being heavy-handed into removing it from their seal because a national group, not a local group, is threatening to sue if it is not removed. Tell me, who was hurt by this to warrant spending taxpayer money to remove, redesign and reconstruct the seal?”

I agree with you wholeheartedly. This very much reminds me of the Mormons and/or other religious groups who wish to keep it illegal (or overturn the legal rulings) of gay marriage. Replace a few words, and see how it sounds? It’s not very fair. That being said, I don’t know your stance; that wasn't personally directed at you; it was just an example of the shoe being on the other foot.

Finally, as an Atheist, I think this one man you talk about is overreacting. I see religious symbols all the time and I just don’t care. I simply don’t have the time or energy to care as long as they are harmless religious symbols here and there. If they bring other people joy and they don’t infringe upon me, why should I care? I don’t. That’s me though.

Nick Burchett profile image

Nick Burchett 4 years ago from IL, MO & KS Author

Thanks for the comment jdflom... your statement "If they bring other people joy and they don’t infringe upon me, why should I care?" is exactly the right response. That is really the crux of the whole issue. You don't have to like my belief and I don't have to like yours. You do not want to believe, fine, it is not my role in life to make you believe, but to allow the message to be spread and to worship the God that I believe. If I choose to erect a statue of Christ on a ski slope that hurts no one. There are no words on it saying "if you are athiest, homosexual, pagan, etc. etc you are wrong and will go to hell." If so I would be the first to say take it down. Ultimately, I just see the world as hypocritical because it condemns one view because of it's view that there is only one way to God. That isn't hate. That is love. You choose to believe that or not. If not, then whatever the outcome, that will be your choice. I believe God will ask me "Did you tell people about me?" And I will say that I did. If you don't believe in God, then why worry about a statue? Why worry about a set of commandments outside a public building? If you think there is no God it's just a bunch of words. But to that other person, it has eternal meaning. Thanks for your comment!!!

Disappearinghead profile image

Disappearinghead 4 years ago from Wales, UK

Who will save us from political correctness? Those protesting about the sign and the statue ARE NOT offended one jot. If they are they simply need to man up (or woman up). This isn't about freedom from religion or an individual's rights, this is about small minded people persuing an agenda.

JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

I don't personally give a crap about the seal or the statue. I do, however, take issue with the recent additions of "in good we trust" on money and "under good" in the pledge of allegiance. Both of those examples go too far to inject the majority belief in god on everyone else. I agree that society is too easily offended these days, but it goes both ways.

What if someone put up a statue of two men kissing? I guarantee that a Christian would be offended and demand that it be taken down. I agree with another comment. Christians and other religious groups are actively trying to limit of revoke gay rights. Who has to pay for that? Taxpayers. Homosexually offends them

because it goes against their beliefs. They are therefore imposing their personal beliefs on everyone else when they make laws to limit or exclude other peoples rights, regardless of whether or not they believe in their religion.

The fact that the op brought up that he wants to "share the gospel" is in itself indicative of the problem.

JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

Also, why do atheists care about the ten commandments in front of a public or government building? Because they shouldn't be there! Would you like to see Muslim laws when you enter a court room? Christianity is not the only belief system in this country. You cannot give preferential treatment to one religion, even if it is the majority, and ignore all the others. There is a reason that there is a separation of church and state. Religion has no place in government.

Nick Burchett profile image

Nick Burchett 4 years ago from IL, MO & KS Author

Why shouldn't they be there? Was the US government forged over sharia law? No, it was forged over a Christian viewpoint. Even Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklins writtings point toward a Christian vantage-point for the formation of the laws (just take a look at the Declaration of Independence). Men such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, who clearly portrayed a non-Christian stance on more than one occasion, concedes multiple times in writings that God, Jesus and Christianity have some forbearance on the matters of morality, governing and leadership, all centerpieces to the formation of the Federal government. Seperation of church and state is just that - a state related matter, not Federal. Regardless of all this, the issue at hand is I believe pretty much what the commeter Disappearinghead said, that the people aren't really offended. They are habitual complainers. They don't agree with Christianity, so no one should. Of course I want to spread the gospel but do you think I want to do so by forcing it on you? What good would that do? What is the purpose and ifference between erecting a monumner with the Ten Commandments and two men kissing? One portrays many of the values the country was founded on. The other is just there because it can be. It serves no purpose, no reminder, nothing. It is irrellavant to it's location. Put it in front of a gay bar and now it has relevance, and it is not my place to say "take that down". I would disagree with it, but it is not hurting me one iota. That is the difference.

JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

morality has nothing to do with christianity or any other religion. Why would you think it would be?

If you think the country was founded on the ten commandments (incidently, what version of the ten commandments) out that it was made to be a "Christian" nation, you are just downright mistaken. Seriously. Most of the founding fathers were deists, not Christians. Have you read the treaty of Tripoli? Have you read actual history and not the Christian revisionist version? Do you know when "in god we trust" was added? Church and state does not only apply art the state level, that's ridiculous. Christians have the majority and they've completely overrun everything. That doesn't mean they had the right to

jdflom profile image

jdflom 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA

JMcFarland again, great points! I too take some issue with the “in god we trust,” on money based on the fact that I personally don’t believe in a god to trust. Once, when I was a child, I made a mock-up of a penny and changed the words to something demeaning to god. I didn't understand fully what I was doing, but boy did some teachers get mad. It was honestly an innocent attempt at humor since I was like 7 years old. At any rate though, bringing up the money is a whole other issue. I firmly stand by freedom of religion; however, I also stand by separation of church and state, which is something that has been widely ignored usually on the conservative republican side. I often see politicians (elected or running) base their agendas on religious ideology instead of what is best for everyone or a unifying non-religious set of standards. Before I get too tangential, one of the main problems with money though is it’s created by the Federal Reserve; it’s not a government entity. I can’t think of a realistic, fast solution to any of that. (I also agree on the pledge and could write much about that, too).

If someone put up a statue of two men kissing, I also wouldn't care. However, if what you suggest does happen (which I think it would too) – a Christian being offended and fighting to get it taken down, then obviously there is some hypocrisy afoot. And I know things like this do and continue to happen. Nick Burchett was citing examples of it happening the other way around, which is usually not the norm.

And to Nick Burchett, in response to your statement, “it is not my role in life to make you believe, but to allow the message to be spread and to worship the God that I believe.” That is fine. And if someone wishes to learn from you, more power to both of you. Be careful about treading into hypocritical territory, which is what you were trying to avoid in the first place. JMcFarland mentioned the example of the ten commandments in front of a government building… To me, there is a difference between the ten commandments outside a government office versus a cross on a seal designed over 100 years ago that as you stated was founded on freedom of religion. One suggests the government should be led by religious rules while the other is a bit of history and appears harmless if what you stated is accurate. One clearly violates separation of church and state, while the other, not so much. The problem with the ten commandments is that it’s a Christian value and while the founding fathers had a mixture of religious backgrounds, they agreed on separation of church and state. JMcFarland’s follow-up, expresses this notion very well, “Christianity is not the only belief system in this country.” You can’t say there is freedom of religion in this country, and then pick and choose which religious backings the government should follow. Even if some of the values were inspired by the ten commandments, some of them are just no-brainers that coincide with peacefulness. It doesn't take a religious text to understand that.

And finally, Nick Burchett, going back to the two men kissing statue – Why would you assume it’s “just there because it can be?” Isn't two men kissing a value of sexual freedom, sexual expression, the pursuit of happiness between two people – something that this country is founded on and as more and more states legalize something that should have never been illegal, a testament of the progressive thinking we are finally waking up to? If anything, I think that in this current time period, a statue of two men kissing is more historically important than a religious statue.

Nick Burchett profile image

Nick Burchett 4 years ago from IL, MO & KS Author

They did not really agree on seperation of church and state. This agreed that religion would not be CONTROLLED by the state, there is a difference. They allowed for diversity of religion that would not be controlled by the government, but would allow the people to practice their religion as they saw fit. However, they were all of Christian denominations and believed that religion played a role in the foundations of the country. That is documented and again, you can see it in the Declaration of Independence. The country was not founded on any sexual freedom, in fact, Homosexuality was treated as a criminal offense in all of the original thirteen colonies, and eventually every one of the fifty states. Severe penalties were invoked for those who engaged in homosexuality. In fact, few Americans know that the penalty for homosexuality in several states was death—including New York, Vermont, Connecticut, and South Carolina. That is why I can say, with confidence, that a statue of two men kissing is there to get a rise out of the public for no other reason than to do it. I wrote a hub about the founding of America, take a look and it gives cited examples of what this country was founded upon. Progressive thinking is not the answer. Change is not bad, but change without a moral compass is. Appreicate the dialogue!

JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

Jdflom, I couldn't agree with you more

JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

Nick - that's not true. A lot of christians cite the declaration of independence because it mentions "god". They fail to bring up the Constitution, however, which doesn't mention god at all. The Declaration of Independence has nothing to do with the laws or governing ordinence of this country. It predated the constitution. The declaration focuses on the split between the states and great Britain, and lists the various grievences of the British government. It holds no legal power or persuasion. At all. It does not say that the government was founded on christianity or that rights are based on christian principles or ideals. Jefferson, who wrote the majority of the declaration was a DEIST. It's well documented and established. The fact that a "god" was mentioned does not describe a christian idea of god. The Declaration describes "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." This nature's view of God agrees with deist philosophy and might even appeal to those of pantheistical beliefs, but any attempt to use the Declaration as a support for Christianity will fail for this reason alone."

Additionally, the treaty of tripoli directly contradicts your assertion.

"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

The great thing about a democracy is that it goes directly against the idea of "might makes right". Christians may be the majority (although this is going to change) but they cannot dictate laws to everyone else. Whether or not every christian denomination believes that it was a christian country or not, it doesn't make that belief correct. It's a secular nation - one of the first, might I add. Unforunately a lot of that realization has been lost. Laws against homosexuality throughout history do not mean that those laws were good or positive, and I'm glad that they've changed. The fact of the matter is that gay marriage was only made ILLEGAL in the mid 20th century, when the republican religious right had to make up laws to deny rights to people actively.

Why in the world would a statue of two men kissing ONLY exist to offend people? That's ridiculous. I think you need to reexamine your history - and real history, not history that has been revised by religious doctrine.

jdflom profile image

jdflom 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA

JMcFarland: Thank you, and well said on your most recent post.

Nick: I appreciate the dialog as well.

I wasn't meaning to suggest the country was founded on sexual freedom... But I see you later acknowledged that I mentioned progressive thinking; which, while you disagree, was my point. I see the formation of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as progressive thinking during that time since the freedoms of (most) of the citizens were a major aspect of that.

One key thing: I like that you brought up "change without a moral compass (is bad)" because I agree with you. The problem is whose moral compass is right?

I find nothing immoral about same sex couples/gay marriage.

I find nothing immoral with polygamy.

I find nothing immoral with an arranged marriage as long as both parties are in agreement.

I find nothing immoral about people who choose to stay single their entire lives.

As long as no one is getting hurt, why would or should anyone else care what others want to do or how they see a family? Why is it an issue? Christianity isn't the sole authority on family or marriage. While I don't agree with any of those examples for my self, that doesn't mean I think no one should have those options available. Again, if it makes people happy and no one is getting hurt - that is completely moral to me.

I've met religious folks who share these views with me, so it's not just an atheist thing, either. Again, I see it as progressive thinking.

Change itself is not good or bad. Why do you see it as automatically bad? It really depends on what's being changed and the opinion of that subject matter, wouldn't you agree?

Nick Burchett profile image

Nick Burchett 4 years ago from IL, MO & KS Author

Do you think murdering a person is moral? If not, why? What do you base your moral standard on that says murder is wrong? If the standard is by what a person feels then why would a murderer not feel justified and moral? Without a compass your argument is a straw-man... If the compass is not a Creator, then what is it? Is it how you were raised? If so, then your moral compass has been adjusted by your parents - where did they get theirs? You see the trail here? This could go back to the beginning of everything. The question still remains "Where did your morals originate?" Here is the thing - there is no winner or loser when debating this online with people you do not know. At the end of the day folks will read and say I agree, I sort of agree or I don't agree at all and that is pretty much where things get left. Changing a persons viewpoint online will not happen. I believe completely my arguments are valid, and stand up for themselves. But as we can see by the comment trail, it goes deeper than what I originally wrote about and is so multifaceted that it becomes finally a point to agree to disagree. Thanks for the civil discussion! Tough stuff to talk about and usually it ends up with name calling. Glad that was not the case here!

JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

it's absurd to think that morality originates from a 2000-3000 year old book. Morality is a necessity when social interactions occur. It's documented all over history, through archaeology and currently when studying sociology. The compass you're referring to is inherent. Morals are not absolute, but a society generally recognizes that murder is not good for the overall society. It diminishes their numbers, and makes them more vulnerable to attack, therefore most cultures won't murder their own people. They may sacrifice others like prisoners of war, etc. I suggest you look up a talk called "the superiority of secular morality" by Matt Dillihunty. It's an amazing comparison between a concept like secular humanism and religiously based morality. No creator is necessary.

jdflom profile image

jdflom 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA

Nick - You are right, we got quite a bit tangential and started bringing in all sorts of other topics!

I know we can't change each others' minds. It's always nice not to turn to insults. I'll agree to disagree as well.

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Jayfort 3 years ago

The laddies doth protest too much, methinks.

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    Nick Burchett profile image

    Nick Burchett81 Followers
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    Nick is a US Army veteran, husband and father of three, and has a BA in History. He is a Civil War aficionado and also enjoys genealogy.

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