Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lack of Tolerance

We had another training this weekend. It was actually pretty good. I've mentioned my distaste for things "politically correct" before, so I WAS NOT looking forward to our seminar on "diversity", expecting a preachy lecture on how we just need to love black people and gays and other minorities and all the world will hold hands and buy each other a coke.

What we got was a black man who had a sense of humor, was an excellent speaker, and engaged us in a constructive way rather than the usual blather. In fact, one of the foster moms there was the one that annoyed me this time.

This woman seems to be a person of some note in our organization. She was one of the instructors at one of our previous trainings, and from the things she said there I know she's got a lot to offer the kids. She does things other people aren't willing to do...and she's a unique individual. She's a Native American...and a Muslim. That's not a combination I think I've ever heard of.

But several times during this session she vocally and repeatedly made sure that everyone there understood clearly and without doubt that without ever meeting a person, she would strongly dislike and avoid that person if she knew they were a Christian Republican.

Now, I've made it known previously that I'd like not to get into my politics (or anybody else's, for that matter) in this space, but I will go so far as to say that I consider myself a strong and practicing Christian. Evangelical even, at least by the technical name of my church's denomination. I guess that makes me a "capital-E" evangelical, though I don't think I'd ever be termed a small-e evangelical.

I'd instantly share what I know about Jesus if anyone ever asked, or if they were a friend and seemed like it might help them. But I'd have a very hard time going to people's houses and knocking on their door to share the Good News, or accosting people on the street to let them know that my beliefs are right and theirs are wrong, and that they'll go to Hell if they don't convert immediately. I don't know very many Evangelicals who actually would do such things, regardless of what you may have heard about us.

So I'm an evil Evangelical, and to top it off I'm both white AND male. Triple damned in this lady's view, no doubt. I'd only have to say something that indicated to her mind that I didn't think George Bush was the antichrist and she'd probably vow never to contaminate her mind by having a conversation with me. I suspect that if she ever saw the list of blogs I read, her head would explode.

But wait...I bet if you asked her what precisely it was that she so disliked about "Christian Republicans", she would tell you that it was because they were so "intolerant" of other people. That they judged people before getting to know them.

In short, all the sorts of things that she seemed to be doing, repeatedly, in a class that was supposed to be showing us how to avoid prejudging people.

Interesting. This seems to me like an absolutely classic case where a good, giving, nurturing person can have things about them that are repellant to me. I guess that was the main lesson I got out of the class, though I did enjoy the speaker.

As an aside, he seemed amazed that I, a white guy, was a fan of Run DMC. When I said their name out loud when he was asking the class what black people were probably listening to in the 80s, he assumed that the black guy next to me (the only black guy in the class) had said it. Seems he had his own preconceptions about white people. Heh.


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