Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Governor Gary R. Herbert and First Lady Jeanette Herbert unveil the holiday decorations in the Governor's Mansion Monday, Dec. 5, 2011 in Salt Lake City.

Tolerance here in America has taken on a new meaning. It has started to mean people have a fear to offend or a fear to be offended. The most common example from today is "religious tolerance." It has gotten to a point that religion cannot be shown in public.

The phrases "separation of church and state" and "freedom of religion" do not mean one cannot use public space to show religion but that government cannot choose your religion or sponsor a religion and religion cannot force its beliefs on government.

A simple example is this time of year. There are several religious celebrations, and each one has a right to celebrate how it wants within the laws of the land. Tolerance has taken on the meaning that because some don't share those beliefs, no one can show that. Religious tolerance has begun to take away religious freedom. Though we cannot force our beliefs on anyone, we must respect what others believe. This could mean taking turns in some things, waiting patiently and, where appropriate, politely sharing beliefs.

This is what made America great. Everyone could believe what they wished and was respected. This is what is making America weaker. Voices are being shut out to be "tolerant."

Spencer Landeen