Not long ago, in a conversation I was having with someone on the subject of same-sex marriage, I found myself on the receiving end of one of those oft heard, emotionally saturated, hackneyed epithets intended to force the politically incorrect party sharing in the discussion into apologetic agreement.
Yes. I was labeled a bigot. And, this after having made clear that my opposition has nothing to do with personal preference or uninformed prejudices, but instead with the nagging contours of reality in which every human person necessarily participates, namely, that men and women are different yet complementary; that as persons they fit together in every way imaginable; all of this making procreation possible and desirable, giving rise to family units that ensure the stability of society and the promise of future generations. You know, the kind of stuff everybody used to believe.
All the principled reasoning in the world could not shield me from the charge of bigotry. Why? Because I oppose same-sex marriage—and I’m a Christian.
But what exactly is bigotry, and is it an exclusively religious phenomenon?
I’ll put that notion to rest: any judgment that doesn't, for one reason or another, take into account all of the facts in assessing another’s position is bigoted. No wonder "narrow-minded" appears so frequently near the term.
A bigot doesn't seek to understand the rationale of the views with which they disagree. They simply make judgments about others out of the resources of their own personal or group ignorance. Sadly, this tends only to reinforce and perpetuate the stunted conception of the world they’ve already adopted.
So, no, bigotry isn't particularly the problem of religion, and, yes, it can flourish in the most professedly open-minded individuals. For instance, someone labeling all religiously based discrimination as de facto bigotry is itself an example of bigotry, for the very reason that it precludes taking into account all of the facts informing religious morality.