The question is upon what is our tolerance based? Traditionally, tolerance was based upon the Christian concept of the universal fall of humanity. All human beings are fundamentally flawed. We all struggle with our own imperfect character. Virtue is not something that can be imposed upon others therefore, we tolerate the imperfections of others as we struggle with our own.
The modernist view of tolerance is based in belief that human beings are not intrinsically flawed or sinful therefore one cannot impose their views upon others. Moreover, through education and civilisation, we can facilitate a form of toleration. This belief in the goodness and perfectibility of humanity and society is based in a secular version of Christian utopianism.
Christian eschatology was more realist in the fact that it did not promise utopia in history, but in a supra historical kingdom of heaven. Divested of its mythological base and brought into history it is, in my opinion, a recipe for intolerance on a grand scale.
A question: is it intolerant to believe that homosexual practice is a sin? So many seem to think that it is unacceptable and intolerant to say such things, but is it essential to agree on something in order for us to be tolerant? Is it not rather the complete opposite: tolerance can only be exercised when there is disagreement?
In that popular conception of tolerance, it is vital that, either we all agree on an issue or that those who do not agree are forced to conform in order to be tolerant. That, of course, leads to a further oppression of those who hold divergent viewpoints.
There is another way out of this dilemma based neither upon Christian faith nor secular mythology. This is based in the belief that no issue has moral consequence so does not need to be fought over. This is known as moral indifference.
There are at least two questions to be dealt with however. Firstly, what do we do with those who believe that the issue does have moral consequence and want to do something about it? Is there an argument to suppress their view in order to maintain a consensus on the moral irrelevance of our issue?
The other question big issue must be where the line is drawn in moral indifference? We can accept that there are not morals whatsoever and therefore moral indifference is a logical conclusion and must become an obligation imposed upon others. This, however, immediately smells of something a little less than indifference.
My belief is that in a pluralist world there is still need for consensus on a minimal set of values for society to function well. The contemporary concept of multiculturalism is, in my opinion, totally opposed to such a consensus. This does not preclude the existence of a multiracial, multiethnic society but any society that wishes long term posterity and to remain integrated needs to agree on some minimum set of cultural values.
The traditional consensus was Christian, the contemporary consensus is modernist and mythological—it will lead to cultural and religious oppression. Moral indifference remains far off and, to a certain extent illusory.
Quo Vadis Britannia?