The CAPG's Blog
One ought not to be a bigot.
Answer: Certainly one ought not to be a bigot! Who says you should? Do those who rant most about bigotry really know what bigotry is? If so, it would be well to use the knowledge for their own improvement: for generally they are the most intensely bigoted bigots. They are so deeply immersed in their own little puddle of bigotry that they cannot see a whole ocean of fairness beyond them.
Bigotry is not religion, it is the abuse of it.
The defects of persons who are guilty of that abuse, generally from ignorance, ought not to be imputed to Religion.
Religion is abused, like every good thing in the world. We must reject the abuse, and retain the use. We must be pious, but we must not be bigots. God loves one, but He does not love the other. The desires to behold in our hearts devotion, that is, devotedness to His service, devotedness to the duties which He imposes, and love of His commandments; but He does not desire to see bigotry reigning in them, that is to say, those enthusiastic, those narrow-minded or superstitiously religious practices, which often replace the chief object by the accessories, and substitute the means for the end.
Nevertheless, these abuses of religion are not so universal and so heinous as they are generally said to be.
Generally speaking, they do not injure any one, and are only hurtful to those who commit them. Those who fall into these pitiable mistakes are unenlightened persons, who surround and fatigue themselves with numerous external forms and practices of devotion, food in themselves, but carried to too great a length; who assume a certain strangeness of manner; who torment their consciences in the fear of doing wrong; and who become excited and angry, through misguided zeal, when it would be more prudent and wise to remain silent, etc.
This is bigotry. It is a great defect, but I should be glad to think there were no worse ones here on earth! Those who inveigh so loudly against bigotry, and are indignant at the absurdities it gives rise to, are too often persons who remind one of the criminal, who, sentenced to perpetual labor for a frightful murder he had committed, was indignant at having given him for his prison companion a thief!
They are often more worthy of censure than those whom they attack.
Their profligacy, bad conduct, neglect of the most sacred duties, religious ignorance, licentious conversation, evil example, etc, etc, are not these abuses? Are they not crimes?
Their whole life is an abuse; and the abuse of devotion is, I venture to say, the only one they never commit. Would it not be as well to exchange this one for the others, I ask?
Do not, then, be a bigot, but a Christian, and a good Christian. Love God, serve Him faithfully, observe all His commandments; fulfill all your duties, so as to be pleasing in the eyes of God, and listen with docility to the teaching of the ministers of Jesus Christ.
Source: Short answers to common objections against religion By Louis Segur