Guest post from Jack Schuler
I am an atheist who was raised Catholic. The sermons and homilies that I heard growing up don’t stick with me anymore, except for one.
I remember it clearly. I was sitting in the stands of the gymnasium of my Catholic high school for an all school mass, an event I’d normally space out for, but that day was different. That day, the priest’s words caught and held me. “We have to get rid of tolerance,” he said.
I was taken aback, I had always thought that tolerance was a virtue and a hallmark of an enlightened society.
“We say we tolerate people who are different from us,” he said, “and that is wrong because God does not call us to tolerance. He calls us to love. To tolerate means to put up with something, and that is wrong. God calls us to love. Even if we don’t understand others, we must love them.”
By this point, I had shaken myself free of my shroud of inactive listening. I was consuming every word that this priest spoke.
“Furthermore,” he continued, “tolerance is immoral.”
A wave of murmurs and confused expressions rippled through the assembled students.
The priest went on, “We must never, under any circumstance, tolerate sin. We must never tolerate that which harms others or ourselves. Not only does God call us to love, but he calls us to be intolerant of wrongs.”
While I no longer believe in a god, these words have never been so important to me. If I could share one religious sermon with the world, it would be that one.
The months since the 2016 election have created a visage of these United States that I will never tolerate. In the week following the election, I had a student called the same racial slur twice on two separate occasions. I had students ask me if they would be deported. I had students ask me what would happen to Planned Parenthood, the Dream Act, their right to choose, marriage equality, their undocumented relative, and their relative still waiting for their refugee visa to escape their dangerous home country. These young people are afraid and with good reason.
The America they currently occupy is a barbed wire-wrapped pretender to the America that I love, and I will never tolerate such a thing.
I will not tolerate this toxic hoax of America because I love my country and its people.
Each human that comes to and exists within these borders is a comrade, and I love them. I love them though I do not always understand them or agree with them. The humanity in me recognizes the humanity in others, and I vow to be the Good Samaritan my former faith glorified.
You and I may differ, but our being is the same. I will not permit another to suffer because they are an other. This, I believe, is the truest of loves, and such a true love demands intolerance.
by Jack Schuler