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The Human Experience And Religious Intolerance

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What are the consequences of when people are intolerant? Sadly, in the world today, many people remain prejudiced against others. There are many forms of intolerance such as bias against those based on race, religion, and gender. In the novel Inherit the Wind by Robert Lee, the character of Reverend Brown amplify’s central theme surrounding intolerance because of his biased views towards non-religious people, or in this case, Evolutionists. There are three forms of intolerance he demonstrates within the novel. The first is revealed through his belief that unless you follow the teaching of the church you will be punished. The second is revealed through his criticism of people who offer different views of religion contrary to his own, and the third is that he declares an absolute love for God, which he used to justify the persecution of others.

Reverend Brown believes that the teachings of the church are to be followed ‘blindly’ by its followers and that these beliefs should never be questioned. He refuses to tolerate non-religious people and their views. For example, Bertram Cates states: ‘Tell him what your father really said! That Tommy’s a damned souled writhing in hellfire.’ (Lee, 36) Brown made these comments after disclosing that the little boy’s father did not let him get baptized before him drowning. This quote demonstrates Reverend Brown’s extreme and unforgiving attitude towards people who do not follow his religion’s rules. Instead of feeling compassion and empathy for the father of the deceased child, he decides to ‘scold’ him, letting him know that the son (he loves) is now in hell because of his mistake. Reverend Brown makes everyone hate non-religious people, causing considerable bias within the community of Hillsboro. His attitude of hate is toxic and contagious. Another example in which Reverend Brown demonstrates this is when he states, ‘Lord, we call down the same curse for those who ask grace for this sinner.’ (Lee 28) He says this when his daughter asks forgiveness and tells her father not to curse her friend, Cates. This example also reveals the level of intolerance he has towards those who oppose him. He would even curse his daughter for showing loyalty and being willing to stand up for her friend.

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Reverend Brown shows intolerance to people’s viewpoints that oppose his religious beliefs by insulting and being mean to them. He attempts to ‘control’ other people by praising those who follow his religion and being incredibly critical and cruel towards those who do not. He shows no remorse towards the Evolutionist perspective and unleashes his wrath on them for offering a different perspective. He makes Evolutionists seem evil, presenting them with the image that they’ll steal your faith and that they are ‘tricking’ you into holding their beliefs. He expresses this feeling while pointing his finger towards the prison and saying, ‘ Do we curse the man who denies the Word?’ (Lee 28) The person who was teaching evolution was in jail, and he wanted the mass of people to recognize that this is where you will end up if you deny God. This is significant to my point because it reveals that he wants any person who opposes his religion too, “burn in hellfire.” He shows no flexibility or any forgiveness aspect of religion. He demonstrates this also when his daughter was trying to justify Cates’ viewpoint. He said; “You’re infected with the poison of his agnosticism! Now get down on your knees and pray for forgiveness!” (Lee 16). This shows that he criticized his own daughter for considering the viewpoint of agnosticism, even though she remains a devout follower of the church and still believes in God.

Reverend Brown reveals absolute love and devotion to his God. He can justify his hate towards other people’s religious views because of his dedication to his Faith. For example, during the prayer meeting, he said, ‘Strike down this Sinner! As thou didst thine enemies of old, in the days of the Pharaoh’s!’ (Lee 28). He reveals his extreme and ‘old school’ form of punishment towards those who oppose the Christian beliefs. He is begging for ‘The Lord’ to show a sign and use it to strike down Cates, who is inside the prison. This demonstrates that through the murder of Cate’s, his God will be able to have revenge on Cate’s for presenting his class with the views of Charles Darwin. From his religious perspective, the only punishment of such an act should be death. Reverend Brown also demonstrates this view while he’s speaking to his daughter about why he is so extreme towards people who offer other views on Religion, he says, ‘Because I love God and I hate his enemies’ (Lee 16). In his response to her question, the assumption is that any person who offers other ideas that don’t link up to his own is automatically considered an enemy. His religious beliefs are set up so that unless you agree with exactly what he says, then you are doing to be criticized, publicly humiliated, and put to death.

When a person is unable to listen to other people’s perspectives and views on religion they limit their own life experience. Reverend Brown’s religious intolerance within Inherit the Wind by Robert Lee can be seen through his actions of severely criticizing people that offer different religious opinions to his own, his devotion to love for God and also the use his love to persecute others. Reverend Brown did not understand that just because he did not believe in Charles Darwin’s theories does not mean that they still cannot exist. He could still have his religious beliefs without feeling that they are being threatened by Charles Darwin’s theories. He might have been even able to learn new ideas that would have strengthened his own Faith. Moving forward, a person should not be intolerant towards new ideas and opinions of others. They should have respect for other people and another person’s opinion clashes with yours, they do have the right to their opinion. If you do want to challenge others’ opinions do it respectfully and present actual facts supporting your case. Perhaps, you could both learn something new from each other.

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The Human Experience And Religious Intolerance. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved August 14, 2022, from
“The Human Experience And Religious Intolerance.” Edubirdie, 24 Feb. 2022,
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