Friday, January 31, 2014


In light of the last post and while I'm in the territory, I might as well say a word about Bigotry. I'm thinking there is probably a little bit of a difference between racism and bigotry, the word prejudice could be thrown into the mix as well.

Each goes well beyond skin color, but that's what is usually the easy example so it will be my prime example as well.

Racism is where a person truly believes that a certain race is superior when compared to others and treats the people of another skin color or ethnicity, harshly.

Bigotry is where someone highly values his own opinion about something [any issue and this goes beyond skin color] far above other people's opinion about the same issue and disregards any one else's point of view, dismissing it as not worth discussing.

Someone better than I am at saying things, said it this way using skin color as the example.

PREJUDICE___is when Mr. Smith is unhappy about Mr. Johnson moves in next door because he doesn't like Mr. Johnson's skin color. [You can see it's bigger than white against black since no color of either has to be stated.]

BIGOTRY____is when Mr. Smith refuses to hear, believe or even respect the right for Mr. Johnson to hold any opinion he chooses about an issue because his skin color is different. [Still bigger than white and black.]

RACISM_____is when Mr. Smith uses threats and intimidation to attempt to drive Mr. Johnson and his family out of the neighborhood to keep the neighborhood one skin color. [All of it is bigger than just white on black or any ethnicity.]

Racism could be defined as "a prejudiced attitude on steroids," but is can also be an unconscious thing found in our use of language as described in my last post.

Since I spoke about racism last time, I would like to address something about bigotry in this post. I'll start with my own definition and work from there. My attempt here is to show that attitude, even among Christians, may be bigoted and when it is, it shows. Even among Christians.
Big-o-try  "A state of mind that is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, beliefs or politics and is totally intolerant of listening with respect to those who differ." [Note this latter phrase highlighted.]

Oliver Wendell Holmes described bigotry this way, “The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour on it, the more it will contract.”

I'm convinced that in controversy after controversy that arises over every imaginable issue in our culture [and church life], there is much evidence that bigotry, as defined above, is not reserved for one side or the other of any issue, but may be evidenced in adherents on either side, whatever the issue might be. This fact seems to have been totally forgotten, if not completely lost on many people in our society.

Even believers.

In fact, I think it safe to say that this is a failure found in ALL extremists on either side of ANY argument about ANY issue of belief in ANY belief system. And I’m sad about this.

Contrary to what many are saying in our culture, believing yourself to be correct in a certain belief is NOT being a bigot. That may be simply being a thoughtful and decisive person who holds to a certain view and has a certain conviction about a certain issue. That's just having a conviction about something. Most thinking people applaud that.

But being closed to other people who have a different opinion than yours BECAUSE they disagree with you [or see scripture another way about it] and treating them with disrespect with attitude, actions or verbally, is bigotry in action, FROM EITHER SIDE OF THE ISSUE.

This can come about even in Christians because bigotry, by definition, is never really concerned that much with manner, only with message. I'm using manner to mean a person’s method, comportment, modes operandi, or way of relating. [The way things are done], I'm using message to mean a person’s own ideas of things,  their stated opinions or communication of their own belief.  [The thing that is believed.]

That IS a big problem

It's a problem because the God of scripture seems to ALWAYS  be as concerned with manner [way of relating] as much as message. [Think Jesus and the Pharisees, Moses killing the Egyptian, Peter taking the sword.]

When examined I think it would be safe to say, using popular words for thinking and loving, that a person's "mind" [intellect] alone, is easily involved in stating a belief only [which tends to produce bigots], but the “heart” [love] must be involved for there to be an attitude that takes in both manner AND method [Which will destroy bigotry].

"Speaking the truth in love" [The scriptural standard for speaking ALL truth] says it well and is speaking of both head AND heart and God is ALWAYS as much concerned with the heart as He is with the  head.

Notice I said, "as much" because it is clearly indicated in scripture that He's into both manner AND message and this is because, with God, the end NEVER justifies the means.

I'll close this post with a quote I recently read and used on my Facebook page. It says it well as a concluding remark,

"Truth isn't the heavy-handed Papa here to lay down some discipline if we fail. Real truth says, you do not need to be right or perfect or without flaw to be loved. Truth sets free, truth invites, truth locks hands with grace, kisses love, and outlasts all the fashionable rants and fear-baiting rhetoric of the splinter-spotting exhibited by the plank-in-the-eye crowd."

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


Thank you again for a thought provoking,wise article.

I'm prompted to ask the question: Can someone claim to love as Jesus commanded, and as Paul counselled the Corinthians, and,at the same time be a bigot intolerant of any opinions differing from his own?

"And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains (seeds of bigotry?), but have not love, I am NOTHING.

The result is the opposite of what the bigot desires.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

It is absolutely incredible to me how you can say in four packed sentences what it takes me 24 paragraphs to say. I could erase my post, insert your comment and serve my purpose and point far better.

Incredible! Thank you my friend.

Aussie John said...


Your articles present such clarity of Biblical truth, that I often find you speaking about issues I have been convicted are true,sometimes for years, but been afraid (there, I've said it)to speak/write about(I'm sure you know about peer pressure).