Lets start with a word of warning, if you don’t want to hear any criticism of fundamentalist religion, skip this post. It will only upset you!

Anyway, I was reading this news article yesterday and it got me thinking. My first reaction was to laugh. The whole idea of people getting into a flap because a picture of a cute police dog was used on a police poster is hilarious. However, it got me thinking. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just another symptom of a bigger problem, the bastardisation of the concepts of tolerance and respect by right-wing religious groups. These groups interpret tolerance and respect to mean that everyone must do things their way.

It seems to be a common thread among the more fundamentalist branches of the major world religions to show a total and utter lack of any tolerance what so ever, while simultaneously demanding that the whole world “tolerate” and “respect” their beliefs. We must all respect their beliefs and refrain from anything they don’t like, while at the same time they refuse to tolerate anything they disagree with.

Although this particular news article was about Muslims, the problem is much more wide-spread. It could just as well have been about fundamentalist Christians or fundamentalist Jews or indeed any fundamentalists. When you stop and think you see it all the time.

For example, lets look at Christian fundamentalists. They impose all sorts of restrictions on expression in America by enforcing ‘respect’ for their beliefs. They will not tolerate two men kissing on TV, so that’s not allowed. They will not tolerate their kids being told the truth at the grand canyon, so out of respect park rangers are told to pretend that there is controversy surrounding geology and biology and play down the real origin of the canyon. Reality must yield to Christian fantasy because we must all respect their right to bring up ignorant kids. Try suggesting that fundamentalist Christians should tolerate the beliefs of others and see how far you get. Tolerance is for OTHERS, not for fundamentalists! They’re very quick to demand it from others, but not to extend it to others. I mean, it’s only normal that their view of marriage should be imposed on the entire nation, right? How dare anyone think differently!

As for fundamentalist Muslims, need I mention Danish cartoons?! Danes must respect Muslim beliefs but there is no way radical Muslims will tolerate Danish beliefs, instead, a good bout of rioting is in order. Like their fundamentalist Christian cousins, Muslim extremists never show even the slightest ounce of tolerance, but are amazingly quick to demand it of others. Danish free speech must of course yield to Muslim beliefs because there’s no way fundamentalist Imams will ever settle for anything less than world-wide “respect” for, aka compliance with, Muslim doctrines.

I’m a believer in the real meaning of tolerance, live and let live. If you want to follow Sharia law, good for you. If you want to be a born again Christian, great. If churches don’t want to recognise same-sex couples, good for them. If you want to stick your fingers in your ears and deny reality in favour of a literal interpretation of Genisis, carry on, I’ll call you an idiot for sure, but I won’t try to stop you. In short, believe what you want, just don’t force your beliefs on everyone. Unfortunately what I see more and more is tolerance and respect being bastardised to mean “you must all do things our way”.

Surely I can’t be the only one who finds it ironic that the intolerant try to force intolerance on us all in the name of tolerance of and respect for their beliefs?