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The intolerance of tolerance

Well, here we go again.

Last week I learned a VA hospital in Iron Mountain, Mich., recently hid the statutes of Jesus and Mary, along with a cross and altar, behind a curtain in their chapel. And, officials there are trying to figure out what they’re going to do with the stained glass windows in the chapel that have been there for years.

Seems that the decision of the VA officials there came after the National Chaplain Center conducted an on-site inspection and determined the hospital’s chapel was not in compliance with government regulations. Supposedly, since 2008 there’s been a policy in place that mandates that “chapels must be maintained as religiously neutral, reflecting no particular faith tradition.”

Now, as a military chaplain I can understand the importance of being sensitive to the pluralistic nature of our active and retired military members. But, I never thought I’d see the day when such extreme steps as hiding any Christian symbols behind a curtain would be taken.

Down through the years I’ve been in Muslim mosques and Jewish synagogues. Even though my beliefs and practices are different in matters of Faith, I still respect their right to worship as they please — and I would hope they’d extend the same to me.

That’s why it grieves me when I see Christianity seemingly being singled out in this current climate of political correctness. You’d think that we lived in a religiously hostile country overseas where Christians are viewed as infidels, persecuted, imprisoned and even killed.

I never thought I’d see the day in these United States when it’d be wrong to end a prayer in Jesus’ Name … put “In God We Trust” on our coins … say “One nation under God” in our pledge of allegiance … or distribute Gideon Bibles in public schools.

Yes, we’ve changed — and not for the better.

But, I shouldn’t be surprised, for the Bible predicted that such would happen in the last days. Jesus Himself said “In this world you WILL have tribulation; but, be of good cheer for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He also said this world will hate those who follow Him because “they hate Him. And, the reason they hate Him is because they hate His Heavenly Father” (John 15:18-25).

So, we shouldn’t be surprised at the hospital’s hiding anything Christian behind a curtain—or atheists’ wanting to remove crosses from veterans’ memorials that have been there for 50+ years.

The cross is offensive to them. And, so is the Name of Jesus.

That’s why the Apostle Paul said “The preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved, it is the Power of God” (I Corinthians 1:17). He also said “Preaching Christ crucified is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolish to the Greeks, i.e., the ‘enlightened ones’” (I Cor. 1:23).

Therefore, instead of resorting to some type of violence like the Islamic extremists and wanting to cut off someone’s head or blow somebody up, I’ll simply “love them, bless them, do good to them and pray for them” as Jesus taught (Matthew 5:44). Otherwise, I’m no different than those who are a walking contradiction when it comes to tolerance and intolerance.

Let them go on and keep hiding Jesus behind curtains. If a massive stone covering a borrowed tomb couldn’t keep Him in on that Resurrection morning, neither will PC or others’ intolerance keep Him and His Message from still changing lives — unless we, who are His followers, succumb to the pressure or the PC Patrol.

May Almighty God give us the courage to “fight the good fight, patiently run and finish the Race that is set before us while keeping the Faith in the process” (II Timothy 4:7-8; Hebrews 1:1-2). That way we’ll not fear what others may say or do—and, when it’s all said and done, we’ll hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter now into the Joy of our Lord” (Mt. 25:21, 23). What a Day that will be!

To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at pressingon@hotmail.com.

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