Neither I, nor anyone at the Boniuk Center at Rice University, will ever define tolerance with reference to these beliefs. Rice is a secular research university, and our Center there has no theological commitment one way or the other. We don’t do theology. We don’t promote it, nor do we condemn it. Only when it calls outright for the direct harm or death (in this world, not the next) of individuals or groups do we question it. Believing your god is the only true god, or that your religion is better than all the others does not, in itself, contradict the principle of tolerance. Our promotion of tolerance does not demand that anyone renounce those beliefs.
Nor do we promote tolerance as an ideology. Unlike Marxists, fascists or other ideologues, we do not have a grand vision for the world that we are now organizing and implementing through socio-political processes. Tolerance, for us, is not a doctrine or dogma; it’s not an agenda. People are not “with us” or “against us” based on their acceptance or rejection of tolerance. As I said above, the only litmus test to which we would submit anyone is whether or not they are calling for direct and measurable harm to anyone, especially in matters of belief. Words like “kill them” or “kill him” are red flags for us, no matter who speaks them.
Instead, we promote tolerance as a civic and personal virtue, mostly for practical reasons. The demographic reality of our lives – in Houston, in America and in the world – is that we are destined to share the planet with people who are radically different from us in belief, perspective and lifestyle. Some may not like this fact, but it is a fact nevertheless. And each of us has to decide how we will live and act inside this reality.
Read it all and the comments too.