In Eritrea you can find Mosques which teach that “there is only one God and Mohammed is his prophet” a few blocks away from Churches that teach “no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ”. The fact that such mutually exclusive religions co-exist peacefully without any compromise speaks of a tolerant society.
Much like the concepts of racial equality or democracy, everybody is for religious tolerance these days. But the term is not well understood among many. It is not uncommon to hear people using the term religious tolerance synonymously with open-minded or liberal. Such use is utterly mistaken. Why would you need ‘tolerance’ if people are not so convinced about their own religion’s correctness? If you are already open minded about religion, or even appreciate the value of having a multi-religious society, then there is no need for tolerance.
A religious tolerant society is when a person who believes that Jesus is the Messiah can respect and befriend a person who is convinced that Jesus is not a Messiah. Tolerance is when a person who believes Muhammad is the Prophet can respect and befriend another who says Muhammad is not a prophet.
Tolerance requires a rejection of the others’ religion and lifestyle while at the same time accepting and accommodating them in society.
Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others. -John F. Kennedy
Since religious tolerance, or any kind of tolerance for that matter, does not exist among groups that don’t mind the others’ beliefs or lifestyle. Religious tolerance exists only between people who are fully confident that that their religion is the correct and the others’ is incorrect. When people with such conviction choose not to impose their religion on each other, that is tolerance.
Religious tolerance is the only way to accommodate mutually incompatible faiths and ensure that peace and stability do not come at the expense of freedom and personal rights. Only in a society that respects and tolerates diversity can people truly make the choices they really want.Follow @samueln77