Lavar Christensen has gotten a bit of a beating over a remark he made. "Tolerance is the religion of people who no longer believe in anything."
I don't know Mr. Christensen. I'm only examining the phrase he is reported to have uttered. I think that the phrase, rightly examined, seems perfectly reasonable. I suppose that what everyone is attacking is what they suppose the phrase says rather than what it actually says. (How's that for mind reading?)
Here is what he didn't say:
"Tolerance is dumb."
"Tolerance is for people who don't believe anything."
"People who have beliefs shouldn't be tolerant."
None of those are in the quote.
His point, I believe, was that tolerance becomes the primary virtue for someone without a bedrock set of principles they believe to be undeviatingly correct. (I'm guessing the the part of the quote "no longer believe in anything" is hyperbole, which I find to be an acceptable rhetorical device.)
Imagine a bakery has just been robbed. The owner is filing a report with the police. Now imagine an onlooker who doesn't believe in property rights. Our onlooker sneers at the bakery owner, "You intolerant jerk. You know that nobody would steal from a bakery if they weren't hungry." Because he doesn't value property, tolerance can become his chief virtue--his religion, if you will.
We see this same confusion over the term "choice." I think choice is a wonderful thing. My theology as a Mormon hinges on my free will. Without choice, my life would be meaningless! But I also believe in consequences. If you believe in choice instead of consequences, then you've made choice your "religion" where I have not. Even though choice is fundamental and essential to my religion, it is not the only virtue.
So it is with Tolerance. I believe in it. I advocate it. But I won't be tolerant of the rights of terrorists to blow up buildings. In other words, I believe in other things more than I believe in tolerance. Don't you?