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Monday, February 4, 2013

Tolerance and Civility

Today I ran across an article in the Salt Lake Tribune (the more liberal of that city's newspapers) which heralded religious diversity within religious schools. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, that's great! Religious schools of any denomination offer a more balanced approach to scientific theories than the indoctrination of only one theory at public schools, among other things. In Utah's case, they're much more academic in their college prep than the neighboring public schools. Better learning combined with ethical and moral values, in essence.

Anyway, I only bring up this article because of the comments. Good grief! You'd think that there are divisions where there are none! Someone picking a fight that we don't all worship the same God even though we do in different ways? Someone else saying that private religious schools are in it for the money not to provide an exceptional education? That is certainly not true of BYU, and I rather doubt that Catholic schools or Jewish schools or any other schools do much more than break even even with their high tuition - generally these institutions are run as nonprofits. You get what you pay for, right?

Open-mindedness won't hurt us. We might just learn something!

I grew up in the enviable Montgomery County Maryland School District. There I attended school with a conglomeration of people of all faiths and all nationalities in one of the top ten public high schools (at least at that time). Some 98% of my class went to college and my own freshman year of college was easier than my senior year of high school, just to give you an idea. There weren't a ton of other Mormons around in the D.C. area, but there were enough of us that most of our classmates knew our standards. The same was true for the other Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. We respected each other. No one taunted me for my beliefs. I got bizarre questions from time to time from friends who picked up on common misperceptions of my faith on TV or from a pastor, but they certainly weren't trying to be rude. And it was certainly good to learn about different cultures and religions in turn - such things are not taught in public schools, and I only had that opportunity because of the melting pot in which I lived.

It was a great atmosphere in which to grow up. That attitude of tolerance, respect, and civility concerning religion is what I wish for every child in America. I know they don't all have that opportunity in school, yet some of them can be taught by us: their parents, teachers, leaders, friends, and neighbors. We can be examples of civility even in this partisan time when it seems old fashioned. I guarantee you that if we listen to each other we learn we have much more in common than we have different.


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