Religious and Racial Tolerance

The Cornerstone of Pluralistic Society

In an increasingly multicultural and multiracial society, where national borders become blurred and ethnic disputes more common, the need for tolerance and respect towards all people, regardless of their racial, ethnic, or religious background, becomes crucial to world peace. As the global community becomes increasingly mobile, non-native or minority citizens cannot be considered outsiders or second-class citizens, less deserving of rights or acceptance.

As Christians, we consider it an inherent component of our faith to extend a hand of acceptance and tolerance to all people, offering them a Gospel that makes no distinctions as to ethnicity, color, or nationality. It is our belief that religious and racial tolerance is essential to peaceful coexistence between all people, in view of the growing complexities of modern society.

In the words of Theodore Orlin, Professor of Government and Politics and Criminal Justice at Utica College of Syracuse University and Director of the college’s Human Rights Advocacy Program (HRAP):

If pluralism, “a condition of society in which numerous distinct ethnic, religious, or cultural groups exist within one nation,” is an important ingredient for democracy and human rights, it seems essential that states be committed to or restrained from imposing barriers to or taking active steps to hinder the legitimate practice of religion or beliefs. … Protection of a religious pluralistic society is dependent on the implementation of constitutional protection. Perhaps as important as legal restraints or state action is a judicial commitment to the pluralistic principle that effectively protects religious minorities.

In the interests of creating a tolerant, pluralistic society, we believe it is important to oppose religious and racial discrimination and prejudice in all forms and to actively promote tolerance and understanding.

God’s Love for All Races

The Family International [the Family] maintains that human life is sacred, and that each person should be respected as an individual created in the image of God. It is our belief that God’s love is the solution to all of humankind’s problems, even in today’s complex society. We believe that as Christians, our duty is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39), regardless of their nationality or religion.

The Bible states, “God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear [reverence] Him and do what is right”1 (Acts 10:34–35 NIV). Being fully persuaded that God loves and cares for all men and women, we strive to help all people, regardless of race, ethnic origins, or religious background.

Since the beginning of our movement in 1968, our founder, David Brandt Berg (also known as Father David [1919–1994]), emphasized and practiced principles of diversity. The Family has actively ministered in over 150 countries, and with a membership comprised of members from over 100 nationalities, our communities are typically multiracial.

The Media’s Bias Against Religion

We believe, along with many concerned religious and humanitarian organizations, that in regards to religion and religious issues much of the mass media influences popular thought and opinion in a detrimental way. Essentially all information about events outside of our own neighborhoods, workplaces, and the limited circle of personal acquaintance comes to us via television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, rendering the media a powerful mechanism for forming the moral and ethical character of society.

The anti-religious bias of many major television networks, movie studios, and news magazines provides convincing evidence of the erosion of fundamental values that we as Christians hold most dear, along with many other peoples of faith, values which we believe are the world’s hope of salvation.

Marlin Maddoux, author, radio commentator, and founder of USA Radio Network, sums up the problem from his perspective:

I don’t think most Americans have yet fully grasped the awesome power of persuasion held by the people who skillfully use television. Nor do they understand that this power is being systematically used to undermine the religious faith of the people of our country. Religiously motivated characters are likely to be neurotics for whom religion is a form of sickness. Rarely are sympathetic characters presented whose lives are strengthened by prayer or the guidance of clergy. Millions of Americans attend church on Sunday and pray in their homes, but rarely are they shown doing this on television. (Speech)

This same scenario is played out in many countries and is a cause of great concern. The future leaders of the world, the children, are habitually exposed to violence, discrimination, and intolerance, while religious people are often belittled and moral values made light of. We believe that due to the media climate, incidents of discrimination and intolerance have increased in recent years, while the youth of the world are insufficiently educated regarding the importance of tolerance.

Violence Perpetrated in the Name of Religion, Race, or Ethnicity

As a Christian fellowship, the Family is a proponent of nonviolence.2 We oppose acts of violence perpetrated in the name of religion, race, or ethnicity. Knowing that God does not judge by outward appearance or ethnic background, we hold to the belief that all men are God-created and should be treated with respect.

While the Family stands against religious, racial, or ethnic violence, we recognize that throughout the world there are people whom the political systems have failed, who are oppressed, discriminated against, disenfranchised, and have lost hope of recognition or help. Some of these people reach the tragic conclusion that there is no other way to fight for their basic human rights than to resort to acts of violence. While we categorically condemn such violence, we also call on individuals, organizations, and governments to put forth effort to correct situations that give rise to violence and terrorism by vigorously opposing discrimination and intolerance. We deplore in the strongest terms those who would take innocent lives to impose their own agenda on others. Such violence is unconscionable before God.

As an international fellowship we denounce human rights violations perpetrated by regimes and special-interest groups that impose their rule and ideologies on others. Father David decried the failure of many established religions to stand up for the rights of the poor and downtrodden, and he openly condemned the misuse of religious authority to wield political power that perpetuates wars and devastation to the detriment of poorer, weaker nations or minorities. His disapproval of the misuse of religious authority stemmed from a deeply held conviction that God loves all people, and that everyone deserves and has the right to respect and justice no matter what his or her religion, race, or ethnic origin.

Making a Difference

Members of the Family believe that God loves every man, woman, and child, regardless of race, nationality, culture, creed, or religion. The apostle John wrote: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). Jesus Christ said that God has given us two great principles to live by: to love God and to love our neighbor (Matthew 22:36–40). It is our prayer that all humankind will follow these peace-loving principles to achieve a just peace for all.

As a religious and social service-minded organization, we translate these principles to the practical level through our active participation in humanitarian and disaster-relief efforts. We often assist the needy in war-torn countries and disaster areas, and work in refugee camps with the displaced and homeless around the world, providing food, comfort, clothing, and hope for a better future. But more importantly, it is through sharing God’s words of hope, love, and salvation that a Christian’s greatest work can be done—changing hearts one by one. It is our hope and prayer that the love of God and love for our neighbor, regardless of race, color, or creed, will prevail.

Father David wrote:

Mighty empires of the sword have come and gone, but God’s words of love and life go on forever and continue to give joy and peace and love and life and hope to billions for generations! The Alexanders and Caesars and Genghis Khans and Napoleons have come and gone, but the words, and ideas and religions of the philosophers and the prophets of God live on forever. They know no boundaries, no nation, no race, nor empire, and are not bound by time nor space, nor limited by man, nor war, nor force of arms, but embrace all mankind and unite their minds and hearts and spirits in faith and love of God and each other for good of all. (pars. 9, 12)

Footnotes

1 All Scripture quoted is from the King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise specified.
2 See also the Family’s statement, “Our Position Against Violence.”

Works Cited

Berg, David. “War of the Worlds.” May 1975.

Maddoux, Marlin. Free Speech or Propaganda?—How the Media Distorts the Truth. Nashville: Nelson, 1990.

Orlin, Theodore S. “Religious Pluralism and Freedom of Religion: Its Protection in Light of Church/State Relationships.”

OSCE/ODIHR Bulletin 5.2 (1997): n. pag.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *