Whether it is the ‘chosen people’ complex of the Torah, the demand for complete subservience of the Bible, the call to Jihad against ‘infidels’ in the Quran, or the vilification and suppression of women, witches and gays in all three it is hard to see how the religions of Abraham can ever be tolerant.
There are liberal Jews, Christians and Muslims that are tolerant, even accepting different spiritual paths and lifestyles. However, to paraphrase a character in a recent popular motion picture these people are ‘cafeteria’ versions of the faith, they pick and choose the parts that are right to them and ignore the darker sides of orthodox religion. I respect these folks as having the strength of will and character to think for themselves. Unfortunately they are relatively few in number, most of those who seem tolerant do so out of ignorance, not enlightenment. With alarming regularity they ‘get the faith’ and become intolerant fundamentalist religious bigots. Words can hurt, but far too often they do more than just practice hate-speech, they burn clinics, murder doctors, and fly airplanes into office buildings. True, these people have real mental issues, but absent the sanction of an orthodox religion they would be unlikely to take out these problems on others. Who knows, they might even get help and find the path.
I am Druid; I worship the Source of All Being and its greatest aspects the Goddess and God. However they are not the only great aspects of the Source. Joshua bar Joseph was also a great aspect of the Source and a God. He was not ‘the only son of the one true God’ and never claimed to be. I live by many of his teachings as they are about love, acceptance, charity and forgiveness. In much the same way I live by many of Mohammed’s early teachings from Mecca which also were about love, acceptance, charity and forgiveness. Unfortunately Christianity and Islam did not stop with those blessed concepts.
I am not a pacifist yet as a Druid I do resist violence and destructive conflict. This tendency has been used against Pagans far too often. A new ‘burning times’ will never be allowed. Pagans are allowed to use their talents and abilities to defend the Earth, the young and the innocent. The key word being defend, never attack.
So can the religions of Abraham be tolerant? Probably not in their current format, but as more and more people find satisfaction on the Pagan spiritual path and regular, every day Jews, Christians and Muslims come to know and accept Pagans for who they are and not what they are depicted as those religions will be forced to change or to die. Historically they may have been slow to adapt, but when faced with the choice of that or extinction have always done so.
All true spiritual paths begin with some variation of the Wicca Rede, “As it harm none, do what you will.” By being Pagan, by living by the Rede we show that those who hate and teach intolerance are wrong. Their more open-minded followers will reject hate, others will not. Unfortunately some are too sour and bitter of spirit to embrace tolerance and love. Hopefully over time (probably several lifetimes in fact) they too will find the path.
Lúcás mac Roibeárd