Someone tells you, “My religious beliefs say that homosexuality and abortion are wrong. When you tell me I can’t express those beliefs in this organization, you are excluding me on the basis of my religion.”
What do you do?
I can’t give you legal or HR advice, but I can give you an ethical solution to this problem: The Paradox of Tolerance.
The Paradox of Tolerance says that we should tolerate someone’s beliefs—up to the point that they take away rights from other people.
“Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.”
What does this mean if you want to be inclusive of people of all genders and sexualities, as well as differing religious beliefs?
Someone may believe that they, personally, should not be homosexual. That can be tolerated.
But if someone starts telling other people that they should not be homosexual, that cannot be tolerated because it removes other people’s rights to express their sexual identity.
Or, someone may believe that they, personally, should not have an abortion. That can be tolerated.
But if someone starts telling other people that they should not get abortions, that cannot be tolerated because it removes other people’s rights to control their own bodies.
Ethically speaking, tolerance for beliefs—whether religious, political, or ethical—ends when those beliefs take away rights from someone other than the believer.
This is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact your legal counsel.
Featured image CC BY-SA May S. Young, edited by FSC