The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 239-252

First online:

A Short Letter on Religious Toleration

  • Burleigh WilkinsAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of California

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This paper takes the form of aletter to fledgling democracies such asAlgeria, Turkey, and Iran. It explores thenature of democracy and argues that theequality of citizens requires that differentreligions be treated equally. It presents some``lessons'' from United States constitutionalhistory which might be useful to fledglingdemocracies as they seek to achieve aseparation of church and state. Developing atheme first presented in ``A Third Principle ofJustice,'' The Journal of Ethics 1 (1997),pp. 355–374, it argues that religious tolerationsometimes may require a heightened sensitivityto the needs of some religious associations. Itconcludes, however, that religious tolerationdoes not require a toleration of intolerantreligious extremists who pose a threat todemocracy.

democracy equality extremism religious associations Sandra O'Connor John Rawls Anthony Scalia toleration