Building religious tolerant societies

John Locke formulated a classic reasoning for religious tolerance which can be seen in his Letters Concerning Toleration (1689–1692).

Three arguments were central to his reasoning: judges, state or human beings are not capable of evaluating the truth-claims of competing religious standpoints; enforcing a single religion would have an adverse effect as faith cannot be compelled by violence; and coercing religious uniformity would lead to more social disorder than allowing diversity.

Furthermore, he believed that those holding political power were no better at discovering the true religion than anyone else and so they should not attempt to enforce their views on others.

Locke did place a limit to tolerance stating that any religious group which posed a threat to political stability or public safety should not be tolerated. Locke’s writings on tolerance were very progressive for the time. However, he believed that atheists should not be tolerated as lack of faith made them untrustworthy and irresponsible.


About the Author

Brendon Naicker
A determined entrepreneur – born and raised in apartheid South Africa, understands what it's like to live with riches and dine among the elite, and a man who has lived for a short spell penniless. An advocate of the ordinary human being, decency and exercising propriety a must, against all the odds! A people’s person with a gargantuan heart and a tenacity for fighting for the underdog! A life with flashes of opulence, a wealth of educational achievements, a dash of homelessness and a lot of travel. (Excerpt from Carla Day, Under a mango tree)