8.6 Morality And The Western Democratic Order
From The Judeo-Christian Ethic by LJM Cooray (1996)

The values and institutions of western civilisation and the religion and morality which support them are powerful artillery when they are presented with reason and tolerance. These ideas will prove to be more persuasive than the alternatives posed by the coercive utopians and the trendy left.

There is, however, an important lesson of history. Western Civilisation and the religious ethic lose defenders when their supporters become dogmatic and allow their belief in absolutes to lead to adoption of rigid and judgemental attitudes. Judgement and intolerance is at odds with the fundamental premises and the spirit of any religion. It is always possible to find particular texts to justify narrowness and intolerance. Religious people and more so religious institutions, have not infrequently fallen into this trap.

The Spanish Inquisition provides an extreme example of this intolerance, which has haunted Christianity ever since. The political and intellectual future of the movement to re-emphasise the importance of moral values must depend on the ability of its supporters to stand for the enduring values encompassed in the religious ethic, whilst avoiding the intolerance of the Inquisition. This is a difficult task. In certain circles within the church there has been a swing from one extreme to the other. Tolerance does not mean that every eccentric belief is to be accommodated within the fold of Christianity.

The balance which must be struck is not an easy one. The maxim "hate the sin and love the sinner" provides some guidance. The condemnation of communism as an evil empire has been severely criticised. It is not uncharitable or unchristian to focus on and condemn sin. The individual, however, cannot with finality discern between good and evil. He can never forget that his judgement may be wrong. Christ said "Judge not that ye be not judged". The emphasis must be to focus on specific evil actions, without at the same time passing total judgement on the sinner. "Judgement is mine," saith the Lord.