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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 12. 1963.

Tolerance and MRA

page 2

Tolerance and MRA

Of all the doctrines currently being spread by fanatics, Moral Re-Armament is probably potentially the most dangerous.

MRA is dangerous because people can accept and admire its crusading spirit without realising all that it involves. Communism, Facism, Racism; these dogmas are well known and their implications widely understood even by those who are not familiar with the central core of the doctrine itself. Moral Re-Armament is not.

At first sight, Moral Re-Armament is just an expression of a desire to return to the moral aims and ideals of Victorian times, and as such has a tremendous emotional appeal. It is not my purpose to examine this aspect of it here.

What I am concerned about is a precept of MRA which demands that our country be governed by Christian principles. Christianity in one of its forms would become the basis of our laws, should the Moral Re-Armers get their way.

Some people might contend that this is already the case, and to support this contention they can cite certain laws which are obviously designed to protect a social custom derived from Christian practice. But it can be argued, successfully I believe, that most of our constitution is derived from more democratic principles, however inadequately they may be reflected in our laws. We run our country more on the basis of political, religious, social and moral tolerance than on the basis of any particular religion.

There are exceptions to this, notably Sunday observance laws, censorship laws, divorce laws, abortion laws, and possibly liquor laws. (It is interesting to note that these are issues on which MP's are unlikely to vote along Party lines.)

It is evident that our present political system is not equal to the demands of religious-based legislation. We have only to look at the confusion, controversy and uncertainty which arise when Bills with religious affiliations are introduced.

If we are to abandon the present general principles and take up those of MRA, we will undoubtedly be turning the clock back. The trend of our law has been towards the secular, not away from it. For this reason MRA can be termed reactionary.

That it can also be considered anti-democratic is obvious from the fact that MRA doctrines do not provide for the dissenting minorities. It may be a commonplace that the test of a democracy is the freedom it allows its minorities, it is none the less true for that. If the laws of the land are based on the religious belief of the majority, religious tolerance cannot be said to exist, because tolerance implies tolerance of both the moral codes and the mode of worship of other religions.

The present principle is roughly that the freedom of the individual extends to the point where it impinges on the freedom of others. I say roughly, because it is sometimes roughly overlooked by Governments, but it is still a vital part of our practice. It would be bad if it were ever entirely abandoned.

MRA seeks to do this. Therefore we should oppose it.