biased, bigoted, intolerant, and judgmental?
1) bias, bigotry, and intolerance
evaporation of the four million who believe in this crap [Christ's return]
would leave the world a better place."
National Public Radio's
All Things Considered
coming in contact with a religious man, I always feel that I must wash
4.1 Culture war: Welcome to the front.
Men and women, Republicans
and Democrats, Christians and non-Christians: any group into which people
can be categorized has some rival group accusing it of being guilty of everything
under the sun. As long as groups continue to consist of people, I doubt
any group will perfectly live up to the ideal it projects. But in modern
America, the rivalry between competing groups and ideologies has become
so intense that this competition has been coined the culture war.
One tactic currently
in vogue in attacking the Christian ideology and its adherents is to associate
them with words such as bias, intolerance, and other similar descriptors.
Be aware that entire books exist devoted to culture war discussions and
this site is not one of them. This is only a clarification of four of the
most frequent associations: bias, bigotry, intolerance, and judgmentalism.
4.2 What is bias?
The labeling of anyone
as biased seems to imply a certain falsehood about them. Bias even suggests
that the accusers who rooted out this supposedly wicked shortcoming are
themselves unbiased. Is one side biased and the other not? Specifically,
are Christians biased?
The answer is discovered in learning the definition of the word.
Bias is defined as
the favoring of one argument over another. Bias, in and of itself, is neither
good nor bad, but simply an inclination towards one idea over another.
It is no more biased to be a Christian than it is to not be one. Examples
of bias would be a preference for ice cream over broccoli, believing that
the earth is spherical instead of flat, or the inclination to think that
the Bible causes more harm than good. The question should not be "Are you
biased?", but rather "Towards what are you biased and why?".
In spite of this clarification,
bias is often incorrectly used to charge someone with having reached conclusions
without the facts, or of willfully distorting the truth. Consider the accusation
that someone who believes in God must be biased. This was the accusation
Supreme Court Justice Souter received when it became public that he, for
whatever it meant, believed in God.
Opponents to Justice
Souter's nomination angrily objected that his beliefs might influence his
actions. This objection was absurd at face value because everyone's actions
correlate to his or her beliefs. But it was a notoriously false implication
that the Constitution could only be interpreted accurately by someone who
did not believe in God. The accuser was just as biased as the accused.
In this case, the accuser's bias against belief in God yielded an irrational
conclusion. Such groundless hostility is itself defined as prejudice.
4.3 What is bigotry?
Outside of the word's
indirect but common association with racial prejudice, the dictionary definition
of a bigot includes one who holds rigidly to an idea. Again, holding
to what you believe to be true is, by itself, not inherently bad. Even the
simple act of one person believing another to be a bigot, and refusing to
be convinced otherwise, is itself a prime example of bigotry.
4.4 What is intolerance?
Intolerance is another
charge often leveled at Christians, usually by those who are themselves
intolerant of Christian moral values. The bumper sticker "Hate is not a
family value" suggests this; itself expressing intolerance towards an unnamed
target audience, and coming from an apparently different set of family values.
Understand that intolerance,
like bias, is not inherently bad. We are all intolerant of certain things.
The real question is "Of what are you intolerant and why?"
As for the previously
mentioned bumper sticker, hate, in proper context, can actually be an excellent
family value. Murder, rape, kidnapping, and brutality are just four examples
of many things that every family should hate and refuse to tolerate. Even
the Bible itself exhorts, "Hate evil, love good;" (Amos 5:15a NIV).
NEXT: PART TWO - Christians: biased...
Principles of God's
Basic terminology: What is religion,