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The intolerance of the tolerant

News Flash

The intolerance of the tolerant 

Don't conservatives have the right to express their views?
Special to The Observer

I am an evangelical Christian. Will you tolerate me?

This is a question I find myself asking over and over again, in light of a culture whose dominant theme -- tolerance -- makes one very precise exclusion: conservative Christians.

On July 14, I was astonished to read a Forum letter by Albert So, who wrote harshly of Christians and creationists, then blamed the fall of Rome on Christianity: "Rome fell after its emperors converted to Christianity and forced the population to convert as well!" Criticism of Christianity? How intolerant!

On the same day's Viewpoint on Religion page, the Rev. Carol Anne Lawler criticized the Rev. Flip Benham and his organization, Operation Save America, for its views on abortion, homosexuality and Islam. Maligning a conservative Christian for his views on social issues? What bigotry!

Liberals portray themselves as open-minded and accepting of those who differ and disagree with them. But is this really true? All too often, I have seen the hypocrisy of liberals who slander "fundamentalist" Christians, but then plead for tolerance.

I have long been a reader of and contributor to the Observer Forum. I appreciate The Observer for providing such a valuable community dialogue on topics ranging from religion to politics. But if there is one criticism I have for this great medium of public discourse, it's that it is filled with a double standard approach to the free expression of ideas.

Conservative Christians are critical of homosexuality and abortion. That is no secret, and I for one will admit it. But for expressing our beliefs, we are called stupid and backwards, we are told to shut up, and we have our voices drowned out by the cacophony of the liberal elite. Most ironically, it is we who are ordered to accept those with whom we disagree.

I don't believe in tolerance because I believe it is contrary to human nature and truly impossible to live out. After all, the same people who claim to be so open-minded of others' views on religion and the like are the very first to criticize Christians for their views.

Liberals will tolerate when it suits their religious or ideological agenda, but refuse to tolerate those they deem intolerant.

It is high time the elite among us, who profess to be so enlightened in their sophisticated view of mankind, stop pretending that they accept everyone and everything. The tolerant among us would disagree with me if I said, "I don't believe in tolerance." But the very moment they refuse to tolerate my viewpoint, they fall into their own rhetorical trap.

Let us be honest with ourselves. Tolerance is fine in terms of how we treat others and the way we live, but in the realm of religious opinion, it is both impractical and stifling to an exchange of ideas. We all hold varying points of view on religion and we should all be free to do so. Rather than scream at Christians such as myself to be more "open-minded," just let us freely express our views and -- dare I say -- tolerate our right to do so.

Kris Wampler, 19, is a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill.

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