The foyer of the Church of the Intrepid Light was astonishing. Markus stood in awe of how the prisms of light from the chandeliers reflected off the stained glass windows. The room was alive with brilliant color. He couldn’t help but feel warmth and reverence.
“Good morning,” said a smartly dressed man in a black suit. He wore a name tag that read ‘Greeter’. “Are you visiting us for the first time this morning?”
“Um, yes,” said Markus, extending his hand.
The greeter responded by sticking out his elbow. “We don’t shake hands here. We bump elbows. Don’t want to spread viruses,” said the greeter. “My name is Shawn. If you’ll permit me I’ll tell you a little about our church.”
“Intrepid Light is a church that celebrates God’s love to the world. Our services are upbeat and our messages uplifting. We’re an inclusive faith community that celebrates the freedom we have in God’s abundant love,” said Shawn, reciting his script flawlessly. “The only rule is tolerance.”
“Really. Like I said, we’re an inclusive community,” said Shawn.
“That doesn’t sound possible,” said Markus.
Shawn laughed. “Believe it,” he said.
“Do you have terrorists here?” said Markus.
“Well, no,” said Shawn. “They breed hate. We’re about love.”
“Oh. Incest, then? That’s love, sort of,” said Markus.
Shawn scowled. “That’s sick. We don’t support or condone any lifestyles like that.”
“That’s good,” said Markus. “I wouldn’t even think of going to a church that accepts terrorism or incest.”
“It’d be wrong,” said Shawn.
“So wrong,” said Markus. “But still, it smacks at your whole ‘one rule’ thing.”
“What do you mean?”
“Tolerance is, like, tolerance. It’s an absolute concept. Once you start excluding someone, I mean, where do you stop?” said Markus.
“I don’t follow,” said Shawn.
“If you claim tolerance as your core belief, then by definition you have to accept everyone. You can’t be tolerant and exclusive. All it tells me is you’re not sure what you believe. Or worse, you know what you believe and use tolerance as a weapon against those who disagree with you,” said Markus, moving toward the exit.
“Church is about to start. Are you leaving?” said Shawn.
“Yeah. It’s a beautiful church, and all, but I think I’ll look for one that knows what it believes,” said Markus.