My wife and I often attend the annual banquet of an historic black community-based organization. Men put on black tie and tuxedos while the better halves throw on their new ball gowns. (Of course it has to be a new gown each year.) Last year’s banquet was intended to be no different in terms of routine, but that soon changed.
We sat down to a table of strangers. We introduced ourselves around the table as is customary at these social affairs (not my favorite part) and we met a very lovely Jewish couple to our immediate left. Then the minister gave the invocation. He was a prominent black pastor from a prominent multi-cultural “center” and not from a mainstream denomination. Quite frankly, I’m not convinced he professes Christianity. He gave the invocation and omitted the often used Christian prayer ending “in Jesus’ name” confirming my suspicions.
His omission of “in Jesus’ name” was glaring for any listening Christian.
I turned to my wife and remarked how very surprised I was to witness such a glaring omission of common Christian prayer protocol. After all, this was a historic black organization presumably rooted in the shared religion of the black diaspora.
To my surprise, the couple to our left overheard our quiet conversation and boldly remarked, “We’re so happy that the reverend chose to show tolerance for non-Christians.”
I replied, immediately, “When I attend temple, I don’t expect the rabbi to insert references to Jesus to make me comfortable. Conversely, you should not expect for the name of Jesus to be omitted at a Christian event.” He had no response.
Tolerance is not demanding the crowd of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, black, white, straight, gay, males or females, to bend to the views of the individual who is different, but rather tolerance is the individual embracing and respecting the rights of that crowd to be who and what they are.
Our culture of tolerance has it backwards. It expects the crowd to bow to the demands of the individual who happens to be different instead of telling the individual that it is you who needs to find tolerance. Let’s get it right.
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