There is a price for the privilege of living in a pluralistic society, and that cost, which the majority of people willingly pay, is tolerance for the views and beliefs of others. Tolerance, while not requiring the embrace and adoption of the values held by others, does entail respecting those values. That is something that fundamentalists, be they Christian, Muslim, Jew or whoever, do not seem to understand, judging by the actions of Hamilton dentist Dr. Steve Tourloukis and his supporters.
The Toronto Star reports the following:
A number of conservative Christian and Muslim parents — unusual political bedfellows — suddenly are asking schools across the GTA to notify them when their child’s class will discuss topics ranging from homosexuality and birth control to wizardry, evolution and “environmental worship,” so they can withhold their child from classes that contradict their religious beliefs.
They are giving schools the same five-page “Traditional Values Letter” used by a Greek Orthodox father who has sued the Hamilton school board for refusing to warn him when his children’s teachers plan to talk about family, marriage or human sexuality. Hamilton dentist Dr. Steve Tourloukis said Monday he only wants those issues taught to his Grade 1 daughter and Grade 4 son “from a Christian perspective.”
Without a hint of irony, Tourloukis says, “I’m not an extremist, but I must ensure that my children abstain from certain activities that may include lessons which promote views contrary to our faith.”
Am I being hypocritical in not extending tolerance to his point of view? I don't think so, simply because my view of public education is that it plays a vital role, not just in imparting facts and developing critical skills, but also in socializing people so that they become fully functioning and contributing citizens, integrated into society at large. This is hardly the dark 'agenda' or conspiracy to promote a particular way of life that neo-conservatives seem obsessed about.
And therein lies the problem with the fundamentalist mindset. It is so narrow and exclusionary that any opposing viewpoints must be suppressed.
Hardly a recipe for either a healthy faith or a healthy society.