The answer to the question posed above is Yes and No.

America is built on the constitutionality and the tradition of religious freedom. Our ancestors who first came to this land to escape religious persecution.  It is an important truth that we never forget. Toleration of one anothers’ faith is part of who we are as a people. If Muslims, Jews, or Native American faiths are subjected to restrictive laws by our government, it is a threat to all religions. That is one reason that our LCMS President, Matt Harrison, was willing to go to Washington and sit at table with Jewish, Muslim, and Catholic leaders speaking in defense of religious freedom in our country.  Just as thousands of Christians in Germany in the mid-twentieth century provided protection for the Jews, we also are obligated by Constitution and tradition to support any religion under attack. That is why part of the answer as to whether all religions are equal is Yes.

On the other hand, the answer to the question is No. This is adamantly true because Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”  Note that Jesus did not say that He is “a” way to the Father, but “the” way; “the truth;” “the life.”  There is no other, so while tolerating other religions in our midst, we do not agree with their teachings.

We are not even called to avoid contact with these other religions–for a very simple and logical reason. Our non-Christian friends may see the love of Christ through us and be drawn to Him. Our belief that He is the only way to the Father means that we cannot allow our friendship and Christian caring to pull us in the other direction.

The world will find this “Yes and No” answer hard to understand. According to the world today, tolerance must include agreement and approval, but this is a new and inaccurate definition of the word. To tolerate something means that we accept its right to exist; that we may even love the practitioner of a lifestyle or religion with which we absolutely disagree. It is a word that expresses Christian love–continuing genuine relationships with others in the hope that Christ’s love will shine through us.

Religious freedom is a tenuous thing. It can seem unending one day and gone the next. It can be real for one religion and denied another. We see both of these scenarios around the world, and each would love to invade our own country. We are right to be both the watchmen of religious freedom and watchmen of the absolute truth of the Gospel of Christ.

Sue Wilson