Seventh-day Adventists support the United Nations proclamation of 1995 as the Year of Tolerance. This proclamation comes at an opportune time when intolerance is abounding on all continents–bigoted religious extremism, racism, tribalism, ethnic cleansing, linguistic enmity, and other forms of terrorism and violence. Christians carry their share of the blame for prejudice and inhumanity toward humans.
Tolerance, the capacity to endure unfavorable circumstances, is only a beginning. Christians and all people of good will, must go well beyond this negative concept and develop sympathy for beliefs or practices that not only differ, but even conflict with their own. Dialogue is certainly much better than diatribe. Human beings must learn to agree or disagree without violence; they must be able to discuss varying viewpoints without hate or rancor. This does not mean docility or abject submission, but partnership and respect for the equal rights of others. Every person has the right and the responsibility to express both ideas and ideals with verve and vigor, but without reaching the boiling point of violent words or actions.
Finally, tolerance at its best means not only acceptance of other views and people, but moving in benevolence, responsiveness, and understanding toward others–every other human being.
This statement was approved and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative Committee (ADCOM) and was released by the Office of the President, Robert S. Folkenberg, at the General Conference session in Utrecht, the Netherlands, June 29-July 8, 1995.