June 1, 2024, is the deadline to apply for CFR’s Fall 2024 Postgraduate Certificate Program cohort in Marriage & Family Therapy, Sex Therapy, and Clergy track. Apply here.

International Day of Tolerance 2023

November 15, 2023

In 1996, the United Nations General Assembly decided to celebrate International Day of Tolerance on November 16 every year. Nowadays, tolerance appears to be lacking. Acceptance of diversity is a crucial element of positive mental health.

We should always strive for diversity acceptance and a more tolerant world, regardless of the International Day of Tolerance. Ultimately, prosperous relationships lead to thriving communities.

Thriving relationships. Flourishing communities. Read on to learn more about 1. why we need international day of tolerance 2023, 2. what is tolerance?, 3. international (in)tolerance day, 4. building a more tolerant world.


Franca Ma-ih Sulem Yong won the Madanjeet Singh Prize in 2022 for promoting tolerance in Cameroon.

Why we need International Day of Tolerance 2023

As the Director of Clergy Training, I’m becoming less tolerant of religious individuals who show intolerance. It may seem strange, but I learned this from my experiences with religious people of various backgrounds. They share their observations and experiences of extreme political views, bias, and even hatred manifesting within faith communities. These attitudes and expressions bear no relation to genuine faith.

Regrettably, our nation has adopted a “public theology” that lacks grounding in scripture, God, or any religious doctrine. Yet, it appears that particular religious communities have endorsed and sanctified these radical stances. These religious groups believe that this country is God’s favorite nation. They have a strict and narrow-minded worldview and believe in one specific way of existing.

When people are different or have different beliefs, it’s easy to create conflict, divide them, and criticize them. As a result, the broader community has started perceiving religious communities as intolerant and judgmental.


Rodney King, on May 1, 1992, made a television appearance pleading for an end to the LA Riots.

What is tolerance?

To put it in simple terms, I’d like to refer to the words of Rodney King from 1992, “People, I just want to say, can’t we all get along? Can’t we all get along?” The LA police brutally attacked King in the first widely seen video of them beating a black man. This incident sparked racial unrest, and King took to the podium, pleading for harmony by asking, “Can’t we all get along?”

The phrase, “Can’t we all get along?” summarizes my hope for our world, country, and local communities.

Readers must comprehend my interpretation of “tolerance” and the principles that guide my public faith. In essence, tolerance is about acknowledging and respecting the rights of others to hold differing opinions or practices. Recognizing the significance of diversity and fostering an environment of curiosity to understand another person’s thoughts and values is essential.

Respect, openness, and curiosity toward others are the roots of tolerance. These traits are crucial to my existence in this world. In addition to respect, openness, and curiosity, I abide by the following three principles of public faith:

  1. Only one God exists, the architect of all creation, and we are all crafted in God’s image.
  2. God is love.
  3. God calls God’s people to love as God has first loved us.

As a Christian minister, I have many other beliefs that I teach and support in my church. On this International Day of Tolerance 2023, though, I remember that these principles guide me in public.

Line graph displaying the share of people who say they agree with select issues by party. Survey of at least 1,000 US adults conducted btween 2003 and 2023 at roughly 10-year intervals. "Gun laws should be strincter" 70% of Democrats agreed in 2003 and 84% of Democrats agree in 2023. 41% of Republicans agree in 2003 and 31% of Republicans agree in 2023. "Worry great deal or fair amount about global warming." 70% of Democrats agreed in 2003 and 87% of Democrats agree in 2023. 41% of Republicans agree in 2003 and 35% of Republicans agree in 2023. "Abortion should be legal under any circumstance." 32% of Democrats agreed in 2003 and 59% of Democrats agree in 2023. 15% of Republicans agree in 2003 and 12% of Republicans agree in 2023. "Federal government has too much power." 46% of Democrats agreed in 2003 and 31% of Democrats agree in 2023. 38% of Republicans agreed in 2003 and 73% of Republicans agree in 2023. "Immigration should be decreased." 42% of Democrats agreed in 2003 and 18% agree in 2023. 53% of Republicans agreed in 2003 and 58% of Republicans agree in 2023. "Completely or somewhat satisfied with K-12 education in US." 44% of Democrats agreed in 2003 and 51% agree in 2023. 53% of Republicans agreed in 2003 and 30% of Republicans agree in 2023.

Courtesy of Axios.

International Day of (In)Tolerance

We should treat each other with respect, openness, and curiosity, all in the spirit of love. Many religious people lack tolerance or understanding of public faith in politics, race, gender, and sexuality these days.

Religious groups often divide into smaller factions because of differing beliefs and values. This division leads to their separation from other religious groups. This causes labeling and mistreatment of people with different beliefs, like liberals, conservatives, progressives, and left-wingers.

Unfortunately, the algorithms of our social media platforms amplify these isolated beliefs. Therefore, even though the International Day of Tolerance is marking its 27th year, the division in our society has only escalated, along with the intolerance that erodes civility and public conversation.

The divide increases, and so does intolerance for the other. Because of the intolerance, we are often in despair, living under a pall of darkness covering the world. Because of this despair, many strike out with violence, not able to see any hope for a brighter day. And thus, the darkness grows.

Quote by United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, "On the International Day of Tolerance, let us recognize the mounting threat posed by those who strive to divide, and let us pledge to forge a path defined by dialogue, social cohesion, and mutual understanding."Fostering a more accepting world

We are overwhelmed and losing hope as we don’t know how to reconnect with others and find harmony again. How do we start mending the rift? We worry more and feel sad, wondering if anyone can show us the good things in life.

On this International Tolerance Day 2023, we turn to our leaders and politicians but quickly realize they are clueless. How can we reconnect with the understanding that the world is the product of a benevolent God? I speculate that God must appreciate diversity – otherwise, why would He have made us so uniquely and intricately?

Therefore, tolerance is a virtue and a divine principle demonstrating the Supreme Commandment. When asked about the most important commandment, Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” This is the foremost and primary commandment.

And the second is similar: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Consider it the golden principle if you’re uncomfortable viewing this as the ultimate commandment. If we desire others to show us tolerance, we must reciprocate. We should approach each other with respect, openness, and curiosity.

This is not just a way to heal the world and improve society but also a framework that includes everyone’s different political beliefs, nationalities, ethnicities, and other divisions in our world. Isn’t this the basic idea of the First Amendment? The First Amendment states that Congress cannot pass laws regarding religion or prohibit free exercise.

I pray for global harmony and peaceful coexistence with tolerance. Can’t we all just get along?


Dr. Dolores Littleton (pictured here) is CFR’s Director of Clergy Training.

About the Author

Dolores Littleton, DMin, LMFT, is the Director of CFR’s Clergy Training. Dr. Littleton helps churches and clergy with conflict, focusing on their mission and ministry through consultation and coaching services. If you have questions about International Day of Tolerance 2023, this blog, or our Post Graduate Certificate Program for Clergy, you may reach Dr. Littleton at dlittleton@councilforrelationships.org or by phone at (610) 213-9725.

See our Therapist & Psychologist Directory to find a different CFR therapist or psychiatrist near you.

More from CFR

Lent and Mental Health