Religious tolerance

Religious toleration may signify "no more than forbearance and the permission given by the adherents of a dominant religion for other religions to exist, even though the latter are looked on with disapproval as inferior, mistaken, or harmful". Historically, most incidents and writings pertaining to toleration involve the status of minority and dissenting viewpoints in relation to a dominant state religion. However, religion is also sociological, and the practice of toleration has always had a political aspect as well.


  • We 'tolerate' those we consider not good enough, but we do not extend our respect to them. 'Tolerance' implies control over those who do not conform to our norms by allowing them some, though not all, of the rights and privileges we enjoy. A religion which involves the worship of 'false gods' and whose adherents are referred to as 'heathens' can be tolerated, but it cannot be respected. Tolerance is a patronizing posture, whereas respect implies that we consider the other to be equally legitimate – a position which some religions routinely deny to others, instead declaring these 'others' to be 'idol worshippers' or 'infidels' and the like.... Tolerance, in short, is an outright insult; it is simply not good enough. pointed out that this notion of tolerance had emerged from religions built on exclusivist claims according to which other religions are false. Hence, tolerating them is the best one can do without undermining one's own claim to exclusivity.
    Religious 'tolerance' was advocated in Europe after centuries of religious wars between adherents of the different denominations of Christianity. In many European countries, Churches functioned as religious monopolies according to which the mere practice of the 'wrong' religion was a criminal offence. 'Tolerance' was a positive attempt to quell the violence that had plagued Christianity for centuries in Europe, but it did not provide a genuine basis for real unity and cooperation, and so it often broke down.

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