Friday, 20 September 2013

Religious Tolerance.

What is the definition of religious tolerance?



Religious tolerance is the willingness to accept and permit religious beliefs and practices which disagree with one's own.
For individuals, religious tolerance generally means acceptance of other people's religions. It does not mean believing that other religions are equally true, but that others have the right to hold and practise their beliefs. Within a nation or ethnic group, it is acceptance of the right to hold beliefs that differ from the dominant religion, worship freely according to these beliefs and attempt to peacefully convince others to convert to that faith.  


Included in any definition of religious tolerance are the relevant actions that many would see as a reasonable accompaniment of such tolerance. Such things as not attacking, harassing, insulting, abusing, or putting down those of other beliefs would normally be included in such a practical working definition. Deliberately misquoting the beliefs of another faith in order to subject them to criticism is something that would fall outside of the definition of tolerance, while attempting to be sensitive and learn the true facts of the situation from adherents would demonstrate tolerance.  


A historic teaching held by the early Baptist congregations of America was "Individual Soul Liberty and Responsibility." This greatly influenced our Constitution's framers to include religious liberty for our rights. Religious tolerance thus was established as law in the newly formed nation.

Simply stated, Individual Soul Liberty means that the individual, whether a believer in Christ or not, has the right to choose what he believes is right in the religious realm, including variants of Christian doctrine or otherwise. No state church was to be formed, as it was in England and many other countries, which would force citizens and residents to conform to its doctrines and practices.

Although this is widely accepted as our right today. much controversy exists over religious freedom, that endangers that right. While some insist on having religious tolerance to non-historic positions, the problem exists today of hypocritical intolerance to common beliefs, which were accepted from the days of our founding fathers. This historical basis of common national faith is not an individual church or denominational teaching, but that which is firmly ensconced in our laws and founding documents.

Religious tolerance makes sense. If you force another to believe and practice what you believe, then it isn't truly accepted in their hearts. Even Christ, in instructing His disciples said, "Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake the dust off your feet." Matthew 10:14 It is not that the disciples did not have the right message, nor that there was no responsibility of the hearers to respond to the truth, but there was to be no forcing of the message on anyone. People have the right to choose, yet they also have responsibility to what is true.

Belligerent preaching or forcibly imposing ones beliefs on the beliefs of another, is intolerance. In a free society such as ours there should be tolerance of other beliefs, as long as these others are not harming another's rights by their practice. To insist that other's be tolerant of your beliefs, while not allowing others freedom of their beliefs, indeed is not religious tolerance.

We currently stand in a vortex of a belief system that chooses to spread their beliefs by the sword. Americans should not tolerate this nor any other encroachment upon our religious freedom. Religious tolerance requires even-handedness, else it is hypocrisy.


To my understanding, the answer simply means tolerating and recognising each other's religious beliefs, without any provocation or hindrances to practice.


Religious tolerance means different things for different people. For example, when Maryland passed the Maryland Toleration Act (also known as the Act Concerning Religion) in 1649, the law mandated religious tolerance for Trinitarian Christians only and therefore not true religious tolerance. In some countries, Muslims pride themselves on religious toleration of other religions as required by the Koran, but this is really a very limited and exclusive form of religious tolerance.

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18 uses a very sound definition of religious tolerance:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

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