True tolerance is agreeing to disagree

When it comes to religious freedom, people are confused.

Religious liberty is the path to true tolerance, an attitude of accommodation, charity and civility. When we had a draft, Quakers were called upon to serve in the Army, but were not compelled to fight. In Kentucky, vegetarian clerks do not have to issue hunting licenses. Conscience-bound medical students are still, thank God, not forced to perform abortions.

This is what tolerance looks like. Some opt out, and the world does not end. When it comes to matters of marriage, the same principles apply. Barronelle Stutzman ran a flower shop for many years. She hired gay people, and counted them as friends. She happily sold and arranged flowers for everyone. There is not a discriminatory bone or ounce of hate in her body. But,believing that marriage is between a man and woman, she chose not to use her talents to celebrate a gay wedding.

Do we have to agree with her to respect her conscience? Many would say she is wrong. But conscience is precious, and we should be slow to fine and fire those who disagree with us. But instead of walking across the street, one particular couple chose to run her out of business. How is that tolerant?

When it comes to religious liberty, it has never been about the refusal to serve people. It comes down to whether we will be coerced to promote activities that go against our deeply held beliefs. Perhaps, one day, you will be the one who is fined and fired, simply for taking an unpopular stand.

So, whether it is a Quaker refusing to fight, a dress maker who does not want to design for Melania Trump, or nuns who would rather not offer contraceptives, why can we not move toward a true tolerance, where we can disagree without forcing the other person to cry uncle? <br>

<i> Peter J. Scaer </i>