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Tolerance, intolerance, and bigotry

Members of the Alliance Church, and other churches in Canada that have suspiciously bigoted views, will often go to great lengths to protect their moral authority.

One strategy for doing this is to accuse their critics of being intolerant. This kind of skewed logic bugs the heck out of me. This is what it looks like in the wild:

Many people will remember a story we told in the spring of 2011 about the firing of Damian Goddard from Rogers Sportsnet after he wrote on Twitter his belief that same-sex marriage was wrong. After this happened, I wrote comments on my own Twitter account that showed support for Damian and hockey agent Todd Reynolds regarding their rights to share their opinion on this matter.

Immediately, I started to receive comments on Twitter that were hateful and were calling me intolerant and a bigot. I know that the comments I received were mild compared to those that Goddard and Reynolds received. Somewhere along the way, tolerance came to mean that people are not entitled to their own beliefs if they disagree with the beliefs of someone else. Of course, the problems with that line of thinking are many because that would mean no one can really have a belief or opinion because it will inevitably go against what someone else believes.

Kirk Giles, President of Promise Keepers

This kind of phenomenon1 could be described as a kind of fallacy of false equivalence. But I’ve been struggling to think of a better metaphor to capture this tortured logic. But I haven’t yet. Instead, here’s a step by step review of what happens.

  1. Christian guy, “Alexander,” says something bigoted, intolerant and hurtful, like, for example, “gay behaviour is sinful.”
  2. In response to this, folks tell Alexander that he said something bigoted, intolerant, and hurtful.
  3. Then Alexander and his supporters complain to anyone that will listen that folks are being “hurtul,” “intolerant,” and “hurtful.”
  4. An optional fourth stage is that Alexander and his supporters then claim that there’s no freedom of speech left and the freedom of religion is also being encroached on.

Nine times out of ten, it’s not a case of Christian persecution. It’s often a case of citizens denouncing bigotry. As much as Kirk Giles wants it be an example of persecution, it’s not.

“Christians have always had to live in a world that is not entirely friendly to Jesus” – Kirk Giles

Instead, it’s a basic failure of Giles to recognize bigotry. Even though the Alliance Church links to the Promise Keepers, I can’t tell if Giles himself is a member of the Alliance Church. But in the case of the Alliance Church, their official doctrine is that gay behaviour is a moral abomination – so whatever is said about homosexuality, is usually a paradigmatic example of bigotry.

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