That is, indeed, a nasty word.
Webster gives this definition of it: “Bigotry—State of mind of a bigot, also of beliefs ensuing from such a state.”
And for bigot he has the following to say, “One obstinately and intolerantly devoted to his own church, party, belief or opinion.”
He presents enthusiast as a synonym for bigot. The difference which he points out between an enthusiast and a bigot is also interesting. “An enthusiast,” he states, “is a person of keen and ardent interest; the term sometimes implies a subordination of judgment to enthusiasm; as the dreams of an enthusiast.” But of the bigot he says, “A bigot is obstinately, often blindly devoted to his own (especially religious) beliefs or opinions; as compared with fanatic and zealot, bigot implies dogged intolerance rather than misguided zeal.”
We have heard that word recently, and we will hear it more in the coming political campaign for the presidency of these United States of America. One who refuses to vote for Senator Kennedy because he is a Roman Catholic will be called a bigot. If his religion is the reason for the negative vote, the decision to vote against him roots in bigotry and is an act of bigotry. It may be argued, of course, that the Roman Catholic citizen who votes for him because he belongs to the same church and uses this solely as his reason is likewise guilty of bigotry. And strangely enough that men will vote for a candidate simply because he is a Republican or a Democrat, that one votes for the candidate of his party in nothing else than loyalty to that party, is never called bigotry but praised as loyalty.
But is it so that to vote against a man because of his religious convictions makes one guilty of bigotry? And having serious scruples against a candidate because he is either a Roman Catholic, or is not, is that so terrible a crime to deserve such a nasty name?
We are not going to tell you how to vote. And these lines are not meant to be political propaganda for either major political party. If it does serve that purpose, it is simply due to the fact that a candidate for the presidency has been nominated who belongs to the Roman Catholic Church and to the fact that this Roman Catholic Church has an entirely different view of the relationship between Church and State than Protestantism. That is what makes church membership an issue in this campaign. It is not that these two main branches of Christianity in our land have different doctrines of the way and nature of salvation. It may even be argued that in this respect much similarity and agreement can be found between the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant Churches. If we rule out the modernistic churches, who are classified in Protestantism and deny many of the cardinal truths of Scripture and, doing so, are farther departed from the truth than the Roman Catholic Church, it may be pointed out that both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism agree in general upon the doctrine of the trinity, the virgin birth of the Savior, the divine nature of Christ, the atonement of the cross, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting, to mention a few.
But it is the stand of the Roman Catholic Church that the Pope is not only the head of the church on earth but also of the state that makes church affiliation an issue in this campaign. And coupled with this is the fact that it is Roman Catholic doctrine that the Pope has power to cast into hell those who depart from the ways of his church and do not seek its advantage at every turn. Therefore the fear arises that he can wield tremendous influence and power over such a candidate, should he become President of the United States. Whether this fear is well founded, whether a President alone can turn the tide in America to Roman Catholicism is not our concern in this article. However we are firmly convinced that we may not before God support or invite anything that would threaten the truth as it was given to the Church through the Reformation. We will therefore also somewhat later quote to you that which is taught in Roman Catholic schools today.
As we said, this is not written to serve as political propaganda. What we wish to point out at this time in this series is that no child of God may be anything else than obstinate in his faith and intolerant with all wickedness. It simply belongs to the lukewarm age in which we live that men are so tolerant with evil and false doctrines and have no deep, serious and unshaken convictions. Men are not obstinate in the truth, but as James writes in his epistle, they are double minded. Today men will place Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Buddhism and Mohammedanism on the same level. They are all good religions. Take your pick. You cannot go wrong with any one of them. The main thing is that you believe something. What you believe is not so important. And the other fellow’s faith and religion is always just as good as yours. If you deny that, if you obstinately maintain your faith and are intolerant with false doctrines, you are a bigot.
Then we say, Give us the freedom of “bigotry!”
Should we be expected to be obstinate and intolerant in devotion to our country, to our political party and not to our God?
Are we bigots when we vote against our party’s candidate because of his religion and traitors when we claim to see something good in Communism? Are we bigots when we obstinately hold fast that which God has revealed to us of the truth; and does freedom of religion in our land mean that we have to be disloyal to our God and the faith He has given us in order to remain a loyal citizen and a faithful party member? Then give us no freedom of religion but freedom of “bigotry.” We will still place it in quotation marks, because we do not believe that such a vile name fits and ought to be applied to a man who is intolerant for the truth’s sake and obstinately devoted to the only true God: Jehovah the God of our salvation in Christ.
We frown on men who defect to Communism. We would be labeled as being “Red,” or surely bright “Pink” if we were to say that the communistic form of government is just as good as the democratic form, that whether a man is ruled by a dictator or by the people themselves through free voting makes little difference and that Cuba and Africa have a perfect right to go communistic and to spread its propaganda through South America. No, you must be obstinately opposed to all this. You must be intolerant with all the attempts of the Russians to go forward and spread their lies and hate against the free nations.
But is Russia greater than our God?
Hate against Him, the lie concerning Him and His Son, Idolatry and image worship, blasphemy and mockery must be tolerated? May we sin against our consciences and defend the lie in any form and to every degree? According to some that is the very idea and value of freedom of religion. It means that the lie must have the same freedom that the truth has to be spread and to be cherished by men. To them it makes no difference what a man’s church affiliation is, and the one faith has as much right to triumph over the other as the one political party has the right to triumph over the other. If only it means a few more dollars in the pocketbook or bank, if only it means that we are kept from poverty and war, from social unrest and crime, it makes no difference what opinions of God are held by the citizens of our land. One is considered to be a bigot, if he votes against a candidate because he considers the religious beliefs of that candidate to pose a serious threat to his own church and faith. But no one thinks of calling the candidate a bigot because he obstinately holds on to his religious faith even though that faith in times past has shown itself to be intolerant to Protestantism to the extent of bloody and violent persecutions, and shows schools that yet today teach the children to be obstinate in their stand for this church and its earthly head, and frown very strongly upon marriage with mates of another faith.
If such a candidate may—and indeed by the decrees of his church, he must—be intolerant of all other faiths, we should not accuse those of bigotry who for these reasons vote against him.
But our chief concern at the moment is, as we said, to point out that we must be intolerant with the lie and obstinate in our stand for the truth of the Word of God and for His Church. Would to God we had more men today who would stand unshaken in their faith and would turn a deaf ear to praise of men and gold and silver, to walk straightforward in the cause of God’s kingdom. We are not interested in men either, for that matter, who can claim to be of one faith and can mix with other faiths and attend churches of other faiths with joy and relish. Let a man stand for what he believes. Let him be honest before God. Let him search the Scriptures and make an honest and serious attempt to compare all the isms with the Word of God, and then let him be faithful unto God, faithful unto death. Let him dare to do that which will possibly bring him the title of bigot. And when faith in God demands it, let him choose obstinately to be faithful to his God at the expense of being loyal even to his country. For here we have no abiding city, but we seek one whose builder and maker is God. Let us walk as citizens of that kingdom. For only in that way can we be pleasing to our God. And that counts above all. Peter said that we ought to obey God rather than man. And we may add that we ought to be loyal to God also rather than to man. When our loyalty and obedience to man and his earthly welfare and ambitions means disloyalty to God and His truth and glory, we have no choice but to be obstinate and intolerant in our devotion to Him.
Therefore next time, D.V., we like to call your attention to a few passages of holy writ which have something to say about this firmness of faith and loyalty to God which may, in man’s eyes, class us with the bigots. O, to be free from fear of men, from lust of eye and flesh to stand firm in the truth, to be intolerant with all evil, to hate it in every form and to despise all wickedness! Give us that freedom of “bigotry” rather than this lukewarm, indifferent, carnal attitude that bread and butter, gold and silver, wages and earthly peace are worth more than the favor of our God and life everlasting in His kingdom of true peace and joy.