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Uniqueness of Christian Intolerance

To: alt.pagan
From: (Tim Maroney)]
Subject: Re: Uniqueness of Christian Intolerance
Date: 4 Dec 1994 10:52:30 GMT

Quoting: | (JRAPPLEGA) writes:

|Thus lies one of the fundamental differences between Christianity and
|other religions.
|The Eastern and "New Age" faiths as well as the Pagan Religions all
|dictate an acceptance of all other religions as equally valid.

Not at all.  The Dhammapada condemns Bon fire-worship as well as other
paths, and Buddhism is historically founded on a rejection of extremist
asceticism.  Hinduism incorporates a number of philosophical schools,
none of which affirm the others as correct.  Sikhs believe in their
unique correctness as well.  Eastern religions have been =more=
tolerant than Western ones in many cases, but it is simply false to say
that they hold as an article of faith that all other religions are
equally valid.  In fact, most of them flatly assert that at least some
other paths are wrong.  This is human nature.

As for paganism, it has been common for pagans to demonize or
trivialize the religions of their military opponents, as well as to
treat them with the same aggressive assimilationism after defeat that
Christians are renowned for.  Modern pagans deriving from the
witchcraft movement have a pronounced tendency to insist that all
monotheistic religions, and especially Christianity, are invalid.  They
also characteristically insult their ancestor tradition, ceremonial
magic, as well as their sibling tradition, LaVey-derived Satanism.
Again, it is human nature to express one's refusal to accept at least
some other ways of looking at the world and at spirituality, and
"neo-pagans" are no exception.

|accepts the existance of other religions and dictates only that they are
|inappropriate for Jews... but accepts them as valid for Gentiles...

This is not quite correct.  I have never seen any conservative or
orthodox Jew state outright that other religions are valid for
non-Jews, but I have seen them say that =maybe= they're OK for
non-Jews, while Judaism is =definitely= the religion for ethnic Jews.
The question of the validity of other religions for others is not
directly addressed, but treated as a matter of no consequence.  Even
this tolerant approach is relatively recent, given the long history of
Judaism.  During Roman times, Judaism was an exclusivist and
proselytizing religion, and some centuries before that (at least
according to its own records) it was actively exterminating religions
which practiced "idolatry."

|Islam has a tendancy towards both proselytizing and isolationism.. but in
|general confirms the validity of other paths to Allah, with the exception
|of Judaism.

Completely false.  Jews and Christians are accorded a special status in
Islam as "people of the book."  The underlying unity of the three
traditions is an article of faith and "people of the book" are
expressly afforded special privileges and rights under Islamic law.
Everyone else is definitely damned, though as long as they don't try
to impede the free practice of Islam, they are to be dealt with fairly
and peacefully in this life.  Their paths are not accepted as valid --
quite the contrary -- but it is against the Koran to try to convert
them by force, provided they afford Moslems the same tolerance.

|But Biblical Christianity is fundamentally evangelistic and exclusive...
|their is no path to God but through His only-begotten Son.  It excludes
|all other faiths (with the exception of Judaism) as doctrnes of demons. 

This is actually not in the Gospel, though it can be found in the
letters of Paul, subject to the usual scholarly quibbles about what he
was really trying to say.  Many modern Christians have outgrown this
intolerance, and the overall trend is toward further liberalization.

Certainly some sects still believe in exclusive salvation, as do sects
in many other religions, including the ones you have claimed "dictate
an acceptance of all other religions".  However, if you were to read
the Vatican II document on the relation of the Catholic Church to other
faiths recently posted here, you would know that even traditional
bastions of intolerance have moderated their views and accepted that
non-Christian religions have spiritual value.

When I started in computer networks on net.religion back in 1982, I
learned a useful principle: "When a Christian says that his religion is
unique in some way, that is almost always false."  They would claim
that only they had the doctrine of salvation, or that only in
Christianity had God been incarnated as a human, and so on -- all
elements which can be found elsewhere in world religion.  Over the
years I have learned the converse principle -- "when an opponent of
Christianity claims that it is unique in some way, that is also usually
false."  Christianity is just another religion, much like the others in
every respect.  We only accord it a special status for good or ill
because we are so close to it in this culture.
Tim Maroney, Communications and User Interface Engineer

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