Sunday, February 05, 2006

Religious tolerance vs religious freedom


Paul Marshall makes an important distinction.

Finally, amid current calls for "toleration" and "respect for belief," we need to be very clear about the distinction between religious toleration and religious freedom.

Religious toleration means not insulting somebody else's religion, and it is a good thing. But religious freedom means being free to reject somebody else's religion and even to insult it. Government should want and encourage its citizens to be tolerant of one another, but its primary responsibility is to protect its citizens' rights and freedoms. The fact that people are sometimes insulted is one cost of freedom. The Jyllands-Posten affair calls us to uphold that principle internationally as well as domestically.

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