Moore, Particular Religions and Tolerance
doughr at ACAD.UDALLAS.EDU
Fri Nov 2 16:48:57 PST 2001
Michael deHaven Newsom wrote:
> We cannot properly ignore the history of the relation between the four
> religions to which I referred. Judge Moore's choice is problematic in
> light of American experience. Indeed, given that experience, his action
> is the quintessence of intolerance.
If this is the quintessence of intolerance, what are we going to say when we
see real intolerance, such as one finds in numerous countries and cultures
throughout the world?
I think Vance Koven is right that Will Esser has given in a bit too much on
the meaning of toleration; to tolerate another's religion doesn't mean that
we have to embrace it as good, or hold it to be the desirable good even for
its adherents, or refrain from criticizing it. To tolerate something, one
might argue, means to put up with it or endure it (from tolerare), to accept
its legitimacy within the protection of the law, and to recognize that
others have a legitimate right to practice and proselytize; that recognition
does not mean that one has to positively promote the religion or its
teachings. Is it the case that under the First Amendment believers are
compelled to refrain from criticizing others? Is it intolerant to pray for
the conversion of others to your religion? The flip side to this, of
course, might be that believers can be criticized as well. But no one is
burning anyone at the stake, or opening fire in a church full of
worshippers, as happened this past Sunday elsewhere.
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