Fear can destroy any community – family, friendship circle, church, town, nation. We saw dark forces creating an environment of fear in Washington during budget talks.

They told lies, misstated numbers, demonized opponents, held secret meetings at midnight, threatened reprisals, showed consistent disrespect for a democracy’s elected leaders, as if the entire enterprise were illegitimate.

They got away with it, so they can be counted on to try it again. Now that we know their game, I hope sensible leaders will have the courage to unmask fear-mongering for what it is: bullying by cowards.

We are deeply divided, and no one party or group has all truth on its side. Divisions are normal, even healthy, in a large and complex nation. The wise and responsible course is to air differences, even passionately, and then to seek resolution through mutual respect and compromise.


Q: With the intolerance often displayed in Christianity and by its leaders, how does an individual within the Christian community avoid becoming intolerant?

A: It’s hard to break free from the negative energy of one’s group. If the tone of your own congregation is intolerant, there’s a lot of pressure on each constituent to join the intolerance. Sometimes one must leave the congregation and seek another.

Intolerant leaders at other congregations don’t have the same impact, especially when the leaders of your own congregation set a tolerant tone. After all, there is no such things as “the Christian community,” an entity with a single message.