Religious tolerance as I see it amounts to allowing people to worship according to the tenets and practices of whatever religion they choose, and without interference. A "Live and Let Live" philosophy as it were. Or, as The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1960) defines religious tolerance:
- "recognition of right of private judgment in religious matters,
- liberty to uphold one's religious opinions and forms of worship, or
- to enjoy all social privileges etc. without regard to religious differences."'
Nice, right? Of course it is. So why doesn't the Bible adopt such an attitude? I ask because it often seeks to do just the opposite: Forget religious tolerance, pick up your stones, swords and shunning skills, and take your cue from how the Bible approaches those of other faiths:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
2 John 9-11
9 Everyone must continue to follow only the teaching about Christ. Whoever changes that teaching does not have God. But whoever continues to follow the teaching about Christ has both the Father and his Son. 10 Don’t accept those who come to you but do not bring this teaching. Don’t invite them into your house. Don’t welcome them in any way.
Deuteronomy 7: 5-6, 9-10
5 “This is what you must do to those nations [the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites]: You must smash their altars and break their memorial stones into pieces. Cut down their Asherah poles and burn their statues. 6 Do this because you are the Lord’s own people. From all the people on earth, the Lord your God chose you to be his special people—people who belong only to him.
9 “So remember that the Lord your God is the only God, and you can trust him! He keeps his agreement. He shows his love and kindness to all people who love him and obey his commands. He continues to show his love and kindness through a thousand generations, 10 but the Lord punishes people who hate him. He will destroy them. He will not be slow to punish those who hate him.
2 You will take that land from the nations that live there now. You must completely destroy all the places where the people of these nations worship their gods. These places are on high mountains, on hills, and under green trees. 3 You must smash their altars and break their memorial stones into pieces. You must burn their Asherah poles and cut down the statues of their gods. Wipe out everything that would remind you of those gods.
20 “Whoever makes a sacrifice to a false god should be destroyed. The Lord is the only one you should make sacrifices to.
6 Turn your anger against the nations that do not know you,
against the people who do not honor you as God.
6 “Someone close to you might secretly persuade you to worship other gods. It might be your own brother, your son, your daughter, the wife you love, or your closest friend. They might say, ‘Let’s go and serve other gods.’ (These are gods that you and your ancestors never knew. 7 They are the gods of the people who live in the other lands around you, some near and some far away.) 8 You must not agree with them. Don’t listen to them or feel sorry for them. Don’t let them go free or protect them. 9-10 No, you must kill them with stones. You be the first one to pick up stones and throw at them. Then everyone must throw stones to kill them, because they tried to pull you away from the Lord your God. And it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, where you were slaves.
1 Kings 18:19, 18:40
19 Now tell all the people of Israel to meet me at Mount Carmel. Also bring the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah, who get their support from Queen Jezebel.”
40 Then Elijah said, “Get the prophets of Baal! Don’t let any of them escape!” So the people captured all the prophets. Then Elijah led them down to Kishon Creek and killed them all.
So, so much for Religious Tolerance. Anyone care to defend all this hatred?