Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thoughts on Tolerance, Part 3: Murder after Bible study

I don't jam my beliefs or practices down the throats of others, but those beliefs and practices are literally a matter of life or death for me.
And that's how I ended Part1, and started Part 2. And it's the theme of the whole series.
I have to start by telling you I'm sick about the murders last night at the Emanuel AME Church Wednesday night Bible study in Charleston, SC. You all know that I refer to my wife by her extended title, which includes the phrase 'praying black grandmother.' That is a title with MEANING; I believe I am alive today because I had a praying grandmother. And last night, after Bible study, in addition to the pastor, six women and two men were murdered. I know the names or ages of none, but there is a quote from a family member that his Granny was among those killed. Was it six praying grandmothers and two praying grandfathers? I don't know, but I DO know that none of those present at Wednesday night Bible study  last night were a threat to anyone, except to the forces of evil.

Why were they there? It's a hot Wednesday night. Why not be at home, resting from the heat and watching TV? They were there because their beliefs and practices were a matter of life or death to them. No, they never considered that a deranged person might shoot them last night, but when you reach a certain age, you KNOW you are going to die within the foreseeable future, and so you abandon those things that are no longer important, and keep the things that are.

And now we get to the guts of my thoughts on tolerance:

Brad Torgersen, Larry Correia, and John C. Wright have been castigated because of their religious beliefs. Those beliefs are not a suit of clothes that they can wear when they choose; they are an essential part of who they are. They don't all believe exactly the same things, but they do their very best to try to live their lives in accordance to what they believe, in the teachings of their church.

We take for granted that we have the right to do so in America, because it's codified in the first amendment that
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
and I rather think that Americans have the belief that government should be similarly limited all over the world. That's not the case, but from what I understand of the American people, we believe it should be. And, we also appear, mostly, to want to apply that same restriction to ourselves as individuals; we certainly want it applied to others. We don't want anyone telling us that we have to worship, or how to do it.

So: HOW in the HELL has it come to the place where men and women who are privately practicing their own religion, and NOT violating any laws, are labelled as racist, misogynistic homophobes, JUST because they are members of a church someone else doesn't like? OUR BELIEFS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO PUBLIC SCRUTINY.

Our BEHAVIOR, on the other hand, IS subject to public scrutiny. If, outside of my own private space, I walk around naked, that is not speech; that's behavior. If I use words to incite violence, that's not speech, that's behavior. The term 'fighting words' means, in the original context, words that have the functional equivalency of striking a blow. What those particular words are is subject to change, based on context, but the fact that such a class of words exists is not a matter of debate.

And, to be just as specific as I can be without citing instances, if I say that I agree on my church's stance on an issue, NO ONE should attack ME for that. EVERYONE is perfectly free to disagree, but my beliefs remain INVIOLABLE.
Now, if I act on my beliefs, and in so doing commit a crime, I am certainly culpable. If I express my beliefs in such a way that produces a specific danger to public peace, I should be held accountable. But if you just happen not to like the stand my church takes on an issue, then LEAVE ME ALONE. I am not fair game. Feel free to blog to your heart's content about how crazy the neo-orthodox neo-evangelical neo-Pentecostal church doctrine is, and if people want to read that drivel, then, hey, you have readers. Good for you.
But if you call someone a racist because you don't like their church, and not because of their behavior, then you are doing an evil thing. You have no right to call yourself tolerant. A person who is tolerant allows others to believe what they want to, does not deny a person the right to behave in a particular way unless it injures others. And to continue to do so when corrected is irresponsible, and should be in no way supported.

Look, I THINK I said this right. I THINK I got out everything I needed to say. If I've been confusing, forgive me; I do still have pneumonia, and I'm afraid my best thinking may be difficult to reach.


  1. Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten identified the nine shooting victims as follows:
    Cynthia Hurd, 54;
    Susie Jackson, 87;
    Ethel Lance, 70;
    Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49;
    Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41;
    Tywanza Sanders, 26;
    Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74;
    Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45;
    Myra Thompson, 59.

  2. From the Emanuel AME website, taken Thursday at 6:30 PM:
    Is something missing from your life? Are you doing all you can to have a closer relationship with God? If you have a desire to learn more about God, then join us on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. in the lower level of the church. We look forward to seeing you!