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Freedom of religion, here in a nation that was founded on freedom and worships freedom, is only an illusion that looks nice in principle but does not exist in practice. Freedom of religion does not, in actuality, translate to tolerance of religion. Those who chastise Christians for not being tolerant* are themselves intolerant of Christians. The persecution of Christians has been underlying our society and is harming our daily lives.
Case in point #1: Good News Ministries has an account at TechSoup, through which non-profit organizations can apply for and receive huge discounts on software. However, whenever I apply for Microsoft software, Good News Ministries is rejected because of our religious nature. (Update: After writing to TechSoup and to Microsoft about this, MS began a new policy that includes donations of software to religious non-profits. Praise the Lord! — Note that this was in 2011.)
Case in point #2: Google has a program called “Google for Nonprofits”, which offers for free products such as Google Grants (“Reach and engage your supporters through free online advertising with AdWords”), YouTube for Nonprofits (“Broadcast your cause and raise funds by creating videos with an embedded Donate button”), Google Earth Outreach (“Visualize your cause and tell your story through Google’s mapping technologies”) and Google Apps for Nonprofits (“Reduce your IT costs and help staff and volunteers collaborate more effectively”). Good News Ministries relies solely on donor support to pay our staff and office rent and other expenses; we could certainly benefit from these Google products. However, when I applied for them, we were rejected because our website has “religious content or proselytizing on website” and because we “use religion as factor in hiring or populations served.”
How fortunate for our persecutors that we practice more tolerance than they do!
*Catholicism does not teach intolerance toward anyone. What we do not tolerate is what God commands us in both the Old and New Testaments to speak up against: sin. Catholicism also believes in true freedom: the freedom of all to live life to the full.
We are misunderstood as being intolerant toward women who choose abortion, when in truth we want their unborn children to have as much freedom as their parents.
We are misunderstood as being intolerant toward homosexuals, when in truth we love and embrace homosexuals so much that we invite them to accept the freedom that comes with union to Christ. Sexual relations of any sort outside the Sacrament of Marriage breaks our union to Christ, because a “sacrament” by its very nature is union with Christ; this is equally true for heterosexuals, including those who are Catholic but married by civil law and not sacramentally.
In other words, for the sake of love, Catholicism asks us to be intolerant of sin but not the sinner. For the sake of love, we invite everyone to look deeper into opportunities for true freedom, which on the surface don’t actually look like freedom.