Why shouldn’t we compel them to come in? Locke, the Enlightenment, and the debate over religious toleration

Most people in the West today unreflectively accept the need for religious toleration. Of course, if pressed, they will admit that toleration, like freedom of speech, can’t be absolute; there must
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Most people in the West today unreflectively accept the need for religious toleration. Of course, if pressed, they will admit that toleration, like freedom of speech, can’t be absolute; there must be some limits. Suppose, for example, that my religion calls for human sacrifice every Sunday; no one will think that such a religion should be tolerated. Again, if pressed, people will agree that there are difficult cases: to take an issue that troubled John Locke, suppose that my religion demands allegiance to a foreign power. We may think that reasonable people can disagree over such cases. But the fact that there are these problem cases doesn’t shake people’s commitment to the principle of religious toleration. We tend to be so wedded to this principle that we can easily forget how seductive the case for intolerance can be. Consider, for instance, a person who says with an authoritative air: “I know that my religion is the true one and that yours is completely false. I also know you will. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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