To preface I would just like to add that this is a difficult topic to articulate so I will do my best.
As I have many friends and family members still in the Church I am finding it very frustrating to keep their wish of remaining silent and supportive of their decisions. Said silence is supposedly the quintessential display of "tolerance" in our society, a permission of religion.
If you look up the definition of tolerance you can actually find many widely varying definitions. Most are as follows:
nationality, etc.,differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry."
Notice how the definition here assumes that the two parties differ by opinion, not fact. To me, the Church is more than harmless opinions. It is mobile, it hurts, it steals, it deceives, it knocks on doors and judges. In this case it is not a difference of opinion but of fact. Facts which one party (mormons) refuse to acknowledge. Tolerance in this case and by such a definition cannot be defined. What then is tolerance?
To further illustrate imagine a kkk headquarters next to a mormon church. It may be socially acceptable for the surrounding community to oust the kkk but not the mormon church. Both are racist by definition (a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement). If you need more info on the topic read 2nd Nephi and many other church publications. Yet in the end the mormon church remains as it is more cunning and less physical about its racism then the kkk.
I personally don't feel there are shades of gray to racism. Racism is racism no matter how you view it.
So in this context are we supposed to remain tolerant until the point which racism becomes physical and violent?
I realize that there is nothing I can say, nor any fact I can present to change anyones views. What I have come to realize, because that church has the capacity to hurt and deceive people outside its doors, it is wrong to remain silent.
Eh I don't agree with the basic premise that belief is always damaging. But that's not really the point of this thread so I won't go into it. Basically, we have compassion and tolerance for all sorts of people who do things that we disagree with. That's kind of the point. We wouldn't need to be tolerant if we all agreed with each other all the time.So while your family and friends feel that their belief enriches their life, you believe it hurts it. While they believe drinking alcohol and skipping church is bad for you, you feel that it makes your life better. So...how do we feel we deserve to be treated by family when we make different choices from them? Personally? I feel that I deserve to be respected as an adult capable of making my own decisions. I feel that I deserve love and acceptance even if I do things my friends or family wouldn't do. So that's the way I treat them. That doesn't mean we don't discuss where we see things differently, but it's not about me trying to get them to change, it's just about being honest about my point of view. Like I said, I believe in being tolerant of other religions, but I don't think tolerance = silence.
The tolerance issue translates in one particular way in my life (and probably most of us here):
Believers usually makes "statements of religious fact" as if the whole world agrees . They often say, for example, that "X" is an act of God/God's will, that a medical success or recovery is a miracle, that they're praying for me to return to the Gospel, etc.
I view these conversations as a negation of my world view! As a mental exercise, I sometimes imagine what I would look and sound like if I, as an atheist, conducted myself in a similar way in the face of Mormon or Christian beliefs. Not pretty....
Two weeks ago, the Young Men's leader drove my son home from a Scouting activity [sigh]. Before he dropped my son off, he took a few minutes to bear his testimony to my son of the truthfulness of the gospel. My son is a 16 year old atheist who can articulately explain and defend his beliefs. But this guy never asked him! He just presumed that not being a Mormon is the same as not having a belief system and proceeded to fill the gap!
We all know what would happen if I had opportunistically cornered his child and proceeded to enlighten and educate her/him. It would be a community outrage. (Hellya, I'm outraged). I would be branded, shunned and my atheistic proselytizing would be common knowledge.
There is clearly some consciousness-raising that needs to occur on both sides and a common ground found. But I don't feel it's useful to presume that a believer is on equal intellectual footing with the typical ex-Mormon. This is what makes your "respect" requirement a personal trial for me. It feels like the correct thing to do but I can only fake it!
I so much agree Cora.
I agree with this. I don't see anything wrong with being honest about the way you see things and I prefer my relationships where I can tell my friends or family I think they're full of shit. :) We have a great time arguing because we don't resort to personal attacks, we just discuss where we see things differently. I agree, tolerance doesn't = never disagreeing.
I understand the frustration of feeling like people are always pushing their religion on you, especially if you're an ex-Mormon in Utah, and then having them be so hypersensitive if you share your opinions or beliefs. Still, I take issue with the assumption that ex-Mormons are inherently more intelligent than Mormons. I mean, I guess exmos get some automatic smart points for questioning their assumptions about the world. But beyond that, I've known lots of very smart Mormons and plenty of less intelligent exmos. I guess defining people by these labels rather than approaching people case by case is where I think we have a big problem. There are all sorts in every group.
But non-believers are smarter - and they make more money too! At least if they're atheists:
Mormons are definitely smarter than most believers, though. And somewhere in that study, it shows they know Christianity best. (But Atheists know world religions best )
I guess defining people by these labels rather than approaching people case by case is where I think we have a big problem. There are all sorts in every group.
Statistics that atheists tend to make more money or know more about world religions (Jews actually beat atheists in that, so this isn't about belief vs. non-belief) has absolutely nothing to do with tolerance to me. At all. Why don't I show you statistics that African Americans are less likely to complete college. Does that mean that we should make assumptions about every black person we meet and approach them as if they are poorly educated because they fall into that demographic? Even if there are statistics that suggest atheists tend to be "smarter," I know Mormons who are more intelligent than I am and a lot who are less so. I try to treat everyone with respect unless they give me a reason not to, and just simply believing in something I disagree with isn't reason enough for me.
I would think every person on this forum has probably been the victim of someone making baseless assumptions about us because we left the church. I don't get why we would want to treat others that same way.
Pardon my previous arrogance ^ But I make no apologies about deferring to reason in favor of a long-dead country boy's claim of visions and revelations on my behalf.
That link merely summarizes the actual study. It shows that Jews, atheists and Mormons are exceptional because of the value they place on education.
Like you, I wouldn't draw the conclusion that a religious thinker is undeserving of respect or tolerance. But religious ideas should be as freely debated as political ideas or brownie recipes. I can't think of a reason why they shouldn't be, or why debating them might be disrespectful.
I have no problem pointing out bad ideas and sloppy thinking and believe it can sometimes be done with diplomacy. However, if a Mormon or other religio insists in responding to a rational response to magical thinking with "hyper-sensitivity", as you say, his or her reaction has nothing to do with you or me. (Unless they get mad and sock me in the eye)!
I definitely agree that religious ideas should be just as open to criticism and discussion as political ideas. :) Most of my responses have been with the original question of the post (what is tolerance? do Mormons deserve tolerance even if they are wrong?) in mind. I definitely have a special level of respect for the ex-Mormon community, and the courage and critical thinking it takes to leave that all-consuming religion behind. I just remember at one point I was a Mormon who thought my religion made me a better person, at one point I was a Mormon with serious questions I didn't voice out loud, and at one point one who didn't believe but went through the motions. At all those phases I had the best of intentions and was working with the knowledge I had and I know how I would have wanted to be treated. So, I try to cut Mormons some slack. :)
Well said, duchess (p.s. that avatar is awesome- that's one of my FAVORITE movies of all time!)