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I wear a tee shirt (maybe you've seen the bumper stickers) with COEXIST spelled out on it using symbols for various faiths--Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, etc.

It has been one of the pillars of my conscience for many years that we must be tolerant of -- and accept -- the multitude of ways that people express their religious faith and their cultural traditions.

Quite a few years ago I joined a faith tradition that celebrates the many and varied ways that people acknowledge some truth greater than themselves, or, having looked reality in the eye, find themselves in the category of agnostic or atheist.

Ironically, it has been during this period of time that I have begun to find myself less and less tolerant of religions or cultures in which can be observed things like, for instance:

-casting out demons; if the person dies, oh well, his/her soul is saved and that's what counts.

-killing the one who does not share the killer's faith

-burning witches at the stake (or anywhere else)

-condemning to eternal pain and burning in a lake of sulfur and brimstone for calling god "Allah" or "Yaweh" instead of "Jesus"

-taking as unquestionable truth a book which collates hundreds (if not thousands) of semi-mythological stories as divinely inspired and correct knowledge

-worshiping a human person as a god

I don't care if I should be 'honoring their traditions while I abhor the outcomes of their beliefs'. If wrong belief leads to wrong action, then I cannot tolerate either without speaking up. Killing and torture in the name of religion (or democracy) cannot be tolerated.

Love the sinner, hate the sin? How fully can you separate a person from what he believes? Do not people choose their beliefs and see the outcomes; can not they tell whether or not their beliefs enhance life, promote the good -- or not?

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