Tolerance. That word originally carried with it the idea of an individual disagreeing with another, yet agreeing with their right to think for themselves. Early English Dissenters (members of religious groups who did not believe in state churches) appealed to tolerance, by which they meant the ability to live peaceably alongside those who practiced their faith in a manner different from their own. This understanding of tolerance was based on principles of liberty, which came from the struggles for freedom they faced in their day.
In 1633, King Charles I of England and his retinue began to restrict the right of the people to worship God freely by forcing all of his subjects into a uniformity led by his will. This was, of course, highly unpopular within England and Scotland. Parliament, along with Charles’ Scottish subjects, demanded that the terrible royal abuses be laid aside, but instead Charles disbanded Parliament after only three weeks forever branding it “The Short Parliament.”
Eventually though Parliament had no choice but to stand against the tyranny of the king and the year 1642 marked the start of what would become one of the deadliest Civil Wars in English history. For a short time, the Parliamentarians prevailed, and Charles I was convicted of treason and beheaded. Upon his death, Parliament was faced with a rare situation. Would they do like King Charles and force people to bend their beliefs and surrender their minds to the government, or would religious freedom be permitted to flourish for the first time?
In the midst of this debate, Oliver Cromwell (a tremendous General and leader of Parliament) declared, “He that ventures his life for the liberty of his country, I wish he trust God for the liberty of his conscience, and you for the liberty he fights for.”
With this statement he called for government to protect the right to a free conscience, the right to a free mind and ultimately the right to one’s religious beliefs.
Through many struggles, this simple yet inalienable right has become the most important among the freedoms we, as the children of that tumultuous age, stand for. So important we placed free speech (which encompasses free thought) and religious freedom as one of the first rights among those outlined in the Bill of Rights of this nation.
Yet, a new struggle looms before us. A small group of radicals demand their belief system to be lifted up to the detriment of our first rights, to free speech and religious liberty. The transgender ideology is propelled forward with the fervor of a medieval religious movement refusing to abide any contradiction to its dogma and using the force of secular government to accomplish its aims. Anyone and everyone, including churches, faith-based organizations, business owners, schools, hospitals, and more— all who disagree with their doctrine are subjected to persecution, fines, lawsuits, religious discrimination, compelled speech, and loss of business.
In the midst of this new struggle for freedom of the mind we are called to “speak the truth in love.” This means that we cannot refuse the duty to speak but we must do so in love.
That is the mission of the Family Policy Alliance® in Wyoming and why we are standing against the pressure of Wyoming Equality and the Gay/Straight Alliance of Wyoming in their effort to misuse the word “tolerance” and “diversity” to push their intolerant agenda.
Director of Advocacy