Righting America

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Intolerance is a Virtue | Righting America

by Patrick Thomas

In today’s post, Patrick Thomas examines Ken Ham’s use of “intolerance” as a tactic to frame non-creationists as anti-Christian secularists. 

Last week, we examined the ways Ken Ham and AiG are re-writing history, whitewashing the past in favor of young earth creationists. Despite evidence that Christian literalists employed the Bible to support slavery, and despite the noticeable silence on contemporary hate crimes against people of color, Ham continues to assert, rather vaguely, that racism and intolerance are unbiblical. Who could disagree?

What’s confusing, though, about his claims against intolerance is that Ham often upholds intolerance as a virtue of a Biblical worldview. And yet, intolerance is often the brush with which Ken Ham paints all other worldviews. In his recent blog post, Ham claims

Christians, like myself, who start with God’s word often hear things like, “You can’t say gay marriage is wrong — that’s intolerant!”…Those secularists who claim to be tolerant will be intolerant of positions they disagree with and often intolerant of the person who holds them. This isn’t tolerance at all! It’s a false definition of tolerance that tolerates only those who agree with them. (emphasis in original)

Setting aside the assumptions that secularists do, in fact, claim positions of tolerance and that people intolerant of a position are equally intolerant of the person who holds said position, what’s important to recognize here is what a useful strategy this is for Ham. Painting secularists – essentially, anyone who doesn’t adhere to AiG’s interpretation of the Bible – as intolerant allows Ham, as a person of extreme power in AiG, to play victim; that is, to claim that he is oppressed by secularists who will not tolerate his Biblical worldview.

Recasting his elite position as one of an injured minority – the person put upon by intolerant secularists – one might assume that Ham offers an antidote to the intolerant secularist worldview. But one would be wrong.

In fact, framing secularists as intolerant allows Ham to re-double his own intolerance. Later in his same post, Ham states,

Secularists are opposed to Christ…because they have an entirely different religion. Evolution, the foundation of the secular worldview, is a religion based on man’s falliable word…It’s not a matter of whether one is religious or not but which religion one adheres to. Ultimately there are only two religions — that of God’s Word and of man’s word. (emphasis in original)

Ah, there it is – intolerance disguised as virtue. Ham’s religion is tolerant and all others are not. Those who do not adhere to creationist apologetics are secularists, and all secularists oppose Christ and worship evolution. All other religions – including the religion to which Jesus himself belonged – are intolerable.

Ken Ham doesn’t fight intolerance, he perpetuates it. The methods of intolerance he ascibes to secularists are the exact methods he and AiG employ: they claim tolerance of people and positions they disagree with, but are actually intolerant of both. What’s even more dangerous about Ham’s intolerance is that he affirms it as divinely inspired, virtuous and Biblical. To be sure, there is nothing God-like about it.