Tolerance Policies and... Intolerance

Mon Apr. 10, 2006 4:25 PM EDT

Tolerance policies on university campuses are now becoming the subject of scrutiny, as radical Christians increasingly consider them an infringement on their freedom of speech. Ruth Malhotra, a 22-year-old senior at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is demanding that her university revoke their tolerance policy because it prohibits her from condemning homosexuality, a belief she claims her Christianity compels her to share. The Christian Legal Society has already formed a national group to challenge tolerance policies in federal court. Well-funded ministries, like Focus on the Family and Campus Crusade for Christ are financing several non-profit law firms to begin taking cases such as Malhotra's for free.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

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The legal argument is straightforward: Policies intended to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination end up discriminating against conservative Christians. Evangelicals have been suspended for wearing anti-gay T-shirts to high school, fired for denouncing Gay Pride Month at work, reprimanded for refusing to attend diversity training. When they protest tolerance codes, they're labeled intolerant.

A recent survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that 64% of American adults — including 80% of evangelical Christians — agreed with the statement "Religion is under attack in this country."

Jon Davidson, legal director of the gay rights group Lambda Legal, asks, "What if a person felt their religious view was that African Americans shouldn't mingle with Caucasians, or that women shouldn't work?" Evangelicals dismiss this argument, drawing a distinction between race/gender and sexual preference, arguing that homosexuality is a choice, that does not conform to God's "natural order," while race and gender are inborn traits.

Leading evangelical, Rev. Rick Scarborough, sees this persecution of Christians as the civil rights struggle of the 21st century. "Christians," he said, "are going to have to take a stand for the right to be Christian."

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