Religious Intolerance Is…

One of the negative Christian stereotypes this ministry hopes to reverse is the stereotype of Christians being intolerant. Some people refer to this as “religious intolerance”.

This is what outsiders mean when they say that Christians are intolerant

I’ve learned that it’s important to define terms. Understanding just what intolerance is and isn’t is crucial. So, this is an attempt to define intolerance based on our extensive research on the subject. The following is what outsiders mean when they say that Christians are intolerant.

As you read the definition of intolerance, consider if you ever act this way towards those with other beliefs.

Religious Intolerance IS:

1. How we promote our beliefs:

  • Attempting to force our beliefs on others.
  • Setting up laws or systems to intentionally benefit one religion or to intentionally exclude benefits from other religions.
  • Creating laws or systems to exclude participation or punish people with different beliefs.
  • Shutting out different religions or non-religions from public or “state” institutions because they aren’t the majority (Christian) religion.
    • Example: only allowing a Christian prayer before a public (secular) school football game, even though the players and fans are made up of different belief systems.
    • Demanding that Judeo/Christian creationism be taught in schools, but excluding other beliefs or scientific theories from also being taught or discussed. Note: this type of intolerance works both ways, such as when schools don’t allow the mention or discussion of non-evolutionary theories to the origin of human life.
    • Pushing to have the Bible taught in school, yet opposing the inclusion of other religious texts from discussion.

We DON’T have to agree with others, or deny our own beliefs, to be more tolerant

2. How we shut down discussions:

  • Refusing to acknowledge or discuss opposing views.
  • Refusing to entertain the idea that other people have any valid points on a subject we disagree with; suggesting that there is NO truth or redeeming quality of any opposing belief.
  • Attempting to silence opposing views or biblical interpretations, or discouraging challenging questions from being asked about our beliefs/church doctrine.
  • Suggesting that there is only ONE correct view or interpretation of scripture (even though the multitude of Christian denominations is a direct result of different biblical interpretations and practices).
  • Saying “I’m right! You are wrong!” without taking the time to even consider and evaluate another person’s views or beliefs.

3. How we treat others:

  • Treating others with different beliefs as “less than”…as if the person is unworthy of our time, love, or respect.
  • Disowning friends or family who choose a different religion, belief system, or lack of faith.
  • Not tolerating the PERSON who holds an opposing belief. (Thinking they are obviously not as bright as you, because they don’t agree with you).
  • Discriminating (outside of a faith-based organization) based on someone’s different beliefs or lack of beliefs.
  • Firing, or not hiring, an otherwise competent non-Christian, atheist, agnostic, etc…, solely on the basis of their beliefs.

Seek to be more loving, graceful, compassionate, merciful, and understanding of those people who disagree with our Christian beliefs

Are You Intolerant?

So, based on the above definition, are you intolerant? If so, may I encourage you to change your ways.

Hold to the truth for sure. And keep in mind that we don’t have to agree with others, or deny our own beliefs, to be more tolerant. Seek to be more loving, graceful, compassionate, merciful, and understanding of those people who disagree with our Christian beliefs. Do that, and Christianity will slowly be viewed as being more tolerant, while maintaining the Biblical truth we seek to preserve.

Important Update: We’ve recently added “intolerance” to our negative stereotypes small group bible study. Download our FREE negative Christian stereotypes Bible Study.

Stay Informed

Subscribe to our e-newsletter and learn to live a Christ-transformed life.


  1. says

    Being correct is not the same as being biblically discerning. The early Church had differences of opinions on many things. However that did not deter nor diminish their willingness to understand another opinion. The early Church were discerning and sought from the Holy Scriptures (Old Testament) to discern the biblical truth (GOD’s Will), not just to compromise among themselves. The Words of God are to be spoken in love with boldness, confidence and without any compromising. God has never compromised and neither did Jesus Christ and neither should we if the subject matter concerns scriptural truths. However, the discussion is always to be with Grace and Love that will not compromise the final authority, God’s Holy Scriptures.

  2. Ian McKerracher says

    Tolerance is one of those words that have gone through a change in definition in our culture in the past few decades. Since the dictionaries of the world hasn’t actuallu caught up with the change, we can go to them to help us. Oxford, for example, says toreance means to “allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one dislikes or disagrees with) without interference”. The more modern notion of to;erance is freighted with expectations of “celebration” of those things with which we disagree. If we cannot affirm other’s beliefs, we are being intolerant. Be aware here that those who oppose Jesus Christ will apply the dictionary meaning to their attitudes and apply this new definition to ours. (and then violate their own standards and conscience as they expression their intolerance) As this attitude has become widespread, I am of the opinion that this is an issue that we cannot win. The consolation that we can have is that we are not to be their conscience anyways. We are to be a counter-culture to their dominant culture. In a society that is full of hatred, to love is a rebellious act. We are called to love as rebels for the common good.

    • says

      Brother Ian, the only point I’ll disagree with above is that the new definition of tolerance means “affirming other’s beliefs”. That is one of the key points I made in the article. Tolerance does NOT mean agreeing with or affirming another’s beliefs. Again, we’ve done lots of research on this…talking with people who call us intolerant. Not one of them said, “you are intolerant because you do not agree with or validate/affirm OUR beliefs.” Re-read the points in the article…that is the real world, practical definition of intolerance. Oddly enough, it’s still pretty consistent with your oxford dictionary definition.

  3. Paula Eslick says

    While we should be tolerant of others views, being tolerant does not mean that we are condoning and accepting their views or lifestyles. We are all entitled to our beliefs without being bullied, harassed, or demeaned. it works both ways though, if you do not believe in a Christian lifestyle that is your choice, but do not call me intolerant because I follow the bible and its truth. Since becoming a Christian 1.5 years ago, I have found that most non-christians want me to be their version of a Christian. They perceive the bible as out dated and old fashioned and that in this world, as a Christian I should be able to pick and choose what parts of the bible I will disregard or follow, such as the subject of same sex marriage. I have had many family members say that I am not a “good Christian” when I follow biblical principals, because in their eyes Christians should be tolerant of everything and never mind what the bible says. Yes Jesus loved the sinner but He also in love and gentleness would rebuke the sinner and tell them to go their way and sin no more. I don’t stand on street corner and shout my views, I do not shove my beliefs down someones throat but I will answer truthfully and with love when asked my opinion. I do not live for this world but for a higher kingdom, so while tolerant of differing views, I will not back down from mine. I always try to keep in mind two things: What Would Jesus Do? and that if done without love, you become like a noisy clanging cymbal…..

  4. Fount says

    As Christians we should be what the name says – “little Christs” or “ones that are related to Christ”. Do you read the 39 books of the Old Testament and see God as tolerant? Do you read the 22 books of the New Testament and come away with “that Jesus sure was tolerant?” Don’t think you do. On more than one occasion Jesus said he hated the behavior of those people that He still loved. Note that He loved them and did NOT tolerate them. He says the highest commandment is to love God and the second is to love others as ourselves. No tolerance for poor behavior included there. Jesus also lists many behaviors that will keep a person out of the kingdom of God. No tolerance there… It is a valid criticism of Christianity when the young folks says the number one reason they won’t become Christians is that we are intolerant of homosexual behavior. We have been called by God to be intolerant of that behavior along with many other behaviors including drunkenness, worshiping other gods, etc. Our proper response is not to become “tolerant” but to tell them yes we are intolerant of those behaviors because God told us He doesn’t tolerate that behavior. To do any less would be making us sinners against God’s commandments. As to the modern definition of tolerance – it really comes from the Marxists. Herbert Mancuse wrote “Repressive Tolerance” in 1965: “[T}he realization of the objectives of tolerance,” he wrote, “would call for in tolerance towards prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions [or you could just say Christianity] and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or surpressed [read anything against Christianity]”. Now you have the modern definition of tolerance – against Christianity and for everything except Christianity. Really – stop and contemplate how many times the “virtue” of tolerance is used to build up the kingdom of God and how many times it is used to pull it down. My opinion…

  5. Mike says

    Fount, I fully agree with your assessment. I just read the above article. I could go line by line, but I will do that in private with Brad. But just a couple of points. First, I do not know of any true biblical christian forcing their belief on anyone. Second, do we think that God was tolerent of idol worship? I don’t think so. Third, do we as true christians think that God almighty would embrace the teaching of a lie (like evolution) just because our society has embraced it as truth? I don’t think so, what an insult to the creator or the heavens and earth. Do we think that God would be tolerent of other religious beliefs? Other Gods? Cults? NO! Just because we have freedom of religion in this country does not make it right! Think about that for just one minute. Do you think that God likes his children being mis-led through cults like Mormonism? or False religions like Islam? Or what about the different so called christain denominations that calim the name of Christ, yet deny his diety? I could go on, but I won’t. I am reminded to Galatians Chapter 1:8 But even if WE, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. Is this scripture being intolerent?

    • Kristin says

      Calling Mormonism a cult shows your lack of understanding of the Latter Day Saint religion and your bias against something you clearly know nothing about. If you truly did your research on Mormonism with an open heart I believe you would change your mind about bashing them and Islam, on a Christian website. How Christian of you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.