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Column:We must accept beliefs different from our own


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A recent conversation with a buddy reached a point of consensus about the juncture at which Columbus finds itself: It no longer does the common-vision-under-strong-leadership thing in the way that set it apart for so much of the 20th century.

Now, from there, our views did diverge somewhat. He reached that conclusion somewhat wistfully. I’m inclined to see it as a natural aspect of our having grown to a population well over 40,000. There are just plain more spheres of influence and blocs of interest than there used to be. It’s pretty natural. We’re more of a city now and not so much one community.

As I said in my June 25 column, there is still much enthusiasm in many circles for diversity, which is kind of odd, given that we have already become diverse and it happened organically. Now that we’re diverse, though, it means we all have to put on the big-boy and big-girl pants and learn what living with all kinds of people really means.

And while some newly accepted demographics have come into the fold, that means looking squarely at how much room we give not only them, but some longer-established constituencies as well. Inclusion is a two-way street.

My Facebook profile lists my religion as “leaning toward Christianity.” I posted it some years ago, and it’s still true, although I’m increasingly sure that my remaining questions are a matter of an incomplete understanding on my part, not any kind of doctrinal shortcoming on the part of the faith.

I can tell you this, though, straight up: Christianity has become marginalized in our society, and that includes right here in Columbus. In fact, I assert that my leaning-toward status bolsters the objectivity of my observation. S.E. Cupp, an avowed atheist, wrote a book, “Losing Our Religion,” in which she warns that American culture’s abandonment of its Christian underpinnings bodes ill for its ongoing viability.

I’m not talking about some kind of smiley-face, Jesus-was-a-man-of-peace belief system. I’m saying that actual Christianity presents us with a very binary choice.

Let’s get into a specific example. St. Paul was either divinely inspired when he wrote the first chapter of his letter to the Romans, or he wasn’t. He wrote of a natural order authored by an omnipotent spirit and a stiff-necked species that came to care very little for that natural order, at its own peril.

Does this point get an airing at interfaith dialogue forums and in diversity circles? Is the onus on those adhering to such a teaching to reach out and prove that they aren’t judgmental?

Conversations about these matters generally reach a point at which the Christian says, “We’re not judging anybody. All fall short of his glory, so we extend love to all.” And those with unconventional sexual proclivities (and that’s an objective term, per the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey showing that 96.6 percent of the U.S. population is heterosexual) respond, “But I know that you’re thinking I’m not going to spend eternity in peace.”

That’s where we get into an area in which freedom needs defending. As I say, we are now like the world at large: truly diverse. That means we’re really going to have to coexist and be OK with what’s going on in our fellow citizens’ heads.

Do you really want someone trying to discern your inner thoughts and feelings every time you have some kind of interaction with them in the public square? Then extend them the same courtesy.

Barney Quick is one of The Republic’s community columnists. All opinions expressed are those of the writer. Please send comments to editorial@therepublic.com.

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