Religious Tolerance

I skimmed through this BBC article this morning, and I have since been thinking a bit about the proposals for a ‘Ground Zero’ mosque.

It seems to me that to not build the mosque would be perceived as being intolerant, and I struggle to see why this is a fair conclusion. What happened to being tolerant of the feelings of those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks? Since when did being tolerant of someone necessitate doing what they want?

I also think some of the comments below the article make some excellent points.

I find it rather amusing that we Americans are preached to about being tolerant when Muslims are deemed as being as pure as the wind-driven snow and completely tolerant of all other religions. Take a Bible to Saudi Arabia and see how tolerant they are.

We feel intolerant because Islam is perceived as a 'threat' - not just because of terrorism but also because the freedom that we enjoy in 'western' countries is not found in 'Islamic' countries. We do not want to get to the point where we cannot build churches, express our opinion that Islamic teaching is not correct or walk around without a veil.

The issue of Park 51 is less one of religious tolerance and more one of respect. How would this issue have been perceived if the situation were reversed?

You can read the rest of them for yourself.

Much as I respect the right of Muslims to practise their faith, tolerance works both ways.  The comment regarding tolerance of Christians in Saudi Arabia is a very fair point, and one wonders what the reaction would be if the proposals for Ground Zero included imagery of Mohammed.  My gut feel is that there would be some angry reactions, and no-one would turn round and preach ‘tolerance’ to those who were upset.

The idea that Islam is perceived as a threat is an interesting one.  To some degree I am very much in agreement, because I do not want to get to the point where one cannot express an opinion against Islamic teaching. 

I also wonder, however, whether people feel threatened in a different way, such that it is not seen as ‘the done thing’ to support those against the mosque.

Finally, I wonder how many of those in support of “religious tolerance for Muslims” actually believe in what they preach, or whether it is an opportunity to jump on a bandwagon and look good by appearing to care for those in a minority.



Verbatim said…
The last section caught my eye

"The issue of Park 51 is less one of religious tolerance and more one of respect."

The issue of bibles in Saudi Arabia is an erroneous comparison. Saudi Arabia is a country with it's own laws and a different standard of tolerance, not known by myself and would question the authors' knowledge/presumptions.

Nevertheless assuming that their tolerance is low or their own belief strong then bringing a bible to THEIR land would be an error on the part of the bringer not the host.

Would you call the a Jewish dinner host intolerant if one of their guests, in full knowledge as per the bible comparison, brought a ham joint as a main course?

So in so far as bringing a bible to a Muslim country it's down to respect.

To turn the table in the country situation where there is a tolerant country with a sore spot. My belief is that the US would instantly become intolerant, as a decision is being made on ethnicity and nothing else. However the imam should be more aware of said sensitivities.

Finally this whole debate is frankly a moot point considering that;

-The mosque is out of site
-Suffi is to sunni as catholic is to protestant (I dare you go to Ireland and state the similarities)
Robert said…

I couldn't disagree more.

There is an excellent article from Time magazine:,8599,2017674,00.html

I also think it is far from useful to ask the rhetorical question 'How would Bibles go down in Saudi Arabia?'

Surely in the West we should be more tolerant and be setting an example to those who decry for denying freedom of expression?

I think it's very worrying if a moderate religious group gets lumped in with extremists; if better inter-faith relations is the goal (and it surely must be) then strengthing moderates is surely a good way to speed this process.

Just like the war on drugs, trying to win defeat Islamic terror with weapons .

In every other sense that is a terrible, terrible analogy though.

This is over a month after you wrote your post.

Oh dear.

Robert (getting more left-wing with age) Betteley

PS: I trust you're well etc. etc.

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