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Intolerant tolerance

Archibishop Chaput of Philadelphia knows a thing or two about tolerance. As the Catholic Church has come under increasing pressure to bend its social values, including teachings on life and marriage, the archbishop wrote, “We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty -- these are Christian virtues. And obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it’s never an end itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil.”

This year during Lent, he also noted that evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant, then it tries to silence good.

In our every more secular society, intolerance for moral virtue is increasing. During the August recesses of 2009, the media -- a creature of an ever more secular culture -- reported again and again about hostile tea party crowds and their heckling of members of Congress. In fact, of eight documented acts of violence during that August recess, seven were against tea party activists.

Left-wing activists have started sending SWAT teams to conservatives’ doors in the night as a form of intimidation. Union thugs show up at private individuals’ homes to bang on their windows because of policy disagreements.

The Southern Poverty Law Center labels conservative groups with which it disagrees “hate organizations,” and when nuts show up with guns the secularists blame conservatives or choose to ignore the act and make excuses for not covering it. “Well,” they say, ” no one died so it isn’t news.”

In fact, the shooting at the Family Research Council is the latest sign of a cultural gap between the media and the country. Had a gunman walked into the Human Rights Campaign’s offices, a gay rights group, and done what happened at the FRC a day after the FRC called the Human Rights Campaign a “hate group,” we’d be on a week of media handwringing about homophobia in America.

Instead, it was the Human Rights Campaign that, the day before the shooting, labeled the Christian group a hate group and a gay rights activist went in to the Christian group to shoot the place up. The media at least gave passing reference to the shooting without much on the ancillary details.

Increasingly, the left is having a hard time playing the “but the other side does it too” card because the examples and consistency of intolerance for conservative views is growing more and more extreme.

Evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant. Then it tries to silence good. There is nothing new under the sun and what we are seeing here is nothing new, just a change.

Tolerance has been redefined to mean acceptance. It is no longer enough to have values. The values must be the correct values. Chick-fil-A must be driven from the marketplace, but Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream funding left-wing causes is encouraged.

The situation will only grow worse. The president seems to talk a good game when it is politically advantageous, but otherwise tells his supporters to bring guns to knife fights while his vice president tells a majority black audience that Republicans want to put them back in chains. Democratic leaders tell everyone there is a “war on women.”

We are rapidly moving to a time when the First Amendment will no longer be as good as the paper on which it is written. It will be only as good as the judges put on the bench. That should worry us all.

Erick Erickson is a CNN contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.