The heritage of the United States of America is founded predominantly upon a belief in God. This is evident in the ancient laws which clearly integrated a lot of religious beliefs especially in matters concerning morality. The country’s currency, the dollar, bears the religious inscription “In God we trust”.
During the founding of the United States of America, the Catholic faith seemed to be the predominant religion in the country. This Christian faith was not necessarily imposed on anyone but was recognized as the true religion hence used as a basis for most of American moral law.
Over the centuries numerous faith denominations have emerged, each convinced that theirs is the true religion. The ongoing truth and tolerance debate in America arose as a result of the emerging religions and faiths that all believed and claimed to have the truth. Edward Kennedy, a believer in the Christian faith, strongly advocated for tolerance especially amongst Christians. He began his popular speech on truth and tolerance by confessing his faith in God and his belief in Jesus Christ.
He went on to admit that he did not presume that his religion and faith were not necessarily perfect. He acknowledged that irrespective of how much he believed in truth, no religion could claim a monopoly of it. He acknowledged that pluralism does not mean that all the religions are right, but it does mean that there are areas in which government should not decide what is wrong or right for the people to think or believe.
In cases of sensitive issues such as abortion, Kennedy considered it transgression for any religion to require the government to legislate on what the citizens ought to do with such personal parts of their lives. This, to him, was an act of intolerance for other religions and beliefs. He however had nothing against spreading one’s faith except that it is to be done through an appeal to individuals’ consciences and not through coercion of the power of State.
Therefore, tolerance does not require that religions and faith do not express their views but that no religion should impose its will on the State or on any governing body. In this way, the church and the State will be kept peacefully separate. The reasons for drawing this line included respect for the integrity of religion and the independent judgment of conscience.
According to Edward Kennedy, an example of intolerance had been the election period in 1976. Some people hinted that Jimmy Carter ought not to be elected president of the United States of America because he was a born again Christian. This, to him, was unacceptable because it is wrong to judge a person’s fitness to govern based on their religion or whom they worshiped.
This was a persuasive argument and made a lot of sense because every person had their own beliefs and values. Tolerance, therefore, would have the people not basing their judgment and credibility upon their religious beliefs.
In conclusion, it is essential to respect the motives of those who readily and openly disagree with the State and question the public’s integrity. Sometimes questioning each other’s integrity is a sign of looking out for each other and however much we are not obligated to agree with skeptics it is important to genuinely listen to them and consider their whatever point they are trying to put across. Scholars have argued that tolerance implies contentment with not knowing the truth.
When truth is made relative then its meaning is lost. It is important to respect and tolerate people with differing points of view and beliefs. This, however, should not deter citizens from earnestly seeking the truth even when it means being shaken out of their comfort zones which, in this case, may be the different religions.