Do Irreligious Realize They’re Intolerant?

By Rod Dreher

Last Saturday, a friend who works at our neighborhood farmer’s market complimented one of her fellow vendors on her dress.

“Thanks,” said the smartly dressed woman, adding that she bought it Forever 21, a store she frequents “even though it’s run by crazy Christians.”

In case you didn’t know, the owners of the fashion chain are Korean Christians who print “John 3:16” on their shopping bags. Gibbering maniacs, obviously.

Recalling the story, my friend, who is a practicing Christian, said she was so shocked that she didn’t know how to respond.

“You could have said, ‘Would you have had the same trouble shopping at a store run by Jews, Muslims, or Hindus?'” I offered. “Or you could have said, ‘Does that mean you won’t be buying stuff from me? I’m a Christian, and our farm is run by a Christian.”

Had I been in my friend’s place, I probably would have reacted the same way, too startled by the revelation that my market colleague was probably a bigot to have mustered much of a response.

But this is not the first time that’s happened at our farmer’s market. One of the best and friendliest customers of my friend’s farm stand cut loose one day with a mini-tirade against pro-lifers and Christians. It had never occurred to this woman that she was buying goods from two pro-life Christian women. She simply assumed that they must agree with her, because everybody knows that only liberals live in our neighborhood and frequent farmers’ markets.

True, our neighborhood is overwhelmingly liberal, at least to judge by voting patterns and the frequency of left-wing bumper stickers on cars lining the streets. It’s the kind of place where you don’t expect conservative Christians to live. But we do — and some of us (I’m thinking of some of my Catholic friends) are even Democrats.

To be sure, folks on the political and cultural right are often guilty of the same thing, as we are constantly reminded by the media. What’s annoying, however, is how rarely it ever seems to occur to liberals in the media and elsewhere that they too need to confront their own intolerance, and to learn something about civility…

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