Why Tolerance Turns to Intolerance
- Chuck Colson Chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries
- 2002 5 May
These are themes directly from my book "How Now Shall We Live?" which DeLay has studied and teaches from in his own church, among other places.
Where did Tom DeLay speak these words? In Congress? At a public school? No, he spoke them to three hundred evangelical Christians at the First Baptist Church of Pearland, Texas.
Nevertheless, Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, assailed Congressman DeLay for daring to proclaim his personal beliefs, in a church setting no less. Quoted in the Washington Post, Lynn claimed that DeLay's remarks show that the congressman "lacks appreciation for the religious pluralism" of the United States, and that "this is particularly disturbing because he, as a top-ranking member of Congress, represents people from the whole spectrum of religious faiths and nonbelievers, not just Christianity."
No, it's Barry Lynn's position that is "disturbing" -- outrageous, in fact. If tolerance of all religions is the standard, where is Barry Lynn's tolerance for Tom DeLay's beliefs? Evidently, not all religions are entitled to the same tolerance.
Why was Tom DeLay's speech a problem for Lynn and others? In his just released book, "Earth Restored: Calling the Church to a New Christian Activism," author and evangelist John Barber addresses the need for living a biblical worldview at a time when people are promoting the privatization of religion. Barber writes, "A biblical worldview is seeing the world as God sees it. It is thinking God's thoughts after Him in all areas of life. While many people think that God's Word applies only to areas like prayer, personal evangelism, and inward holiness, a biblical worldview assumes that the Bible also speaks to education, art, business, politics, technology, and more."
Tom DeLay's speech may have been a problem for some because he not only speaks about the benefits of a biblical worldview, he lives it. Here is a man who refuses to separate his Christian faith from his role as a congressman. He speaks his mind and his honest convictions, and he also lives his faith. He and his wife Christine take foster kids into their own home.
If the debate over DeLay's speech tells us anything, it's that private religion isn't what frightens some people. It's the public face of Christianity that scares them. The message is: "Stay in your churches, fast and pray, and you'll be tolerated. But dare to express your faith in the public square, and you will pay."
In an age in which private life is increasingly separated from public life, Christians all the more need to model a biblical worldview - as Barber says in Earth Restored, "think[ing] God's thoughts after Him in all areas of life." Tom DeLay serves as an excellent example.
For further reading:
- John Barber, Earth Restored: Calling the Church to a New Christian Activism (Christian Focus Publications, 2002).
- Alan Cooperman, "DeLay Criticized for 'Only Christianity' Remarks," Washington Post, 20 April 2002.
- Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live? (Tyndale, 1999).
Copyright 2002 Prison Fellowship Ministries. All Rights Reserved.
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For more information about Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship Ministries, visit http://www.prisonfellowship.
PHOTO of Tom DeLay by AP/Wide World Photos.