Religious Toleration

About this Collection

The French King, Louis XIV, revoked the laws that granted religious toleration to the Calvinists - also known as the the Huguenots - the Edict of Nantes, in 1685. This sparked a debate throughout Europe about the benefits and costs of a tolerant religious policy. John Locke wrote a series of “letters on toleration” and he was joined by the German jurist Samuel Pufendorf. The wars and revolutions in England from the 1640s to 1689 were concerned with questions of the religious persecution and toleration of Protestants and Catholics. William Penn was active in the 1670s and 1680s in arguing for religious liberty.

Key People

Titles & Essays

A – Z List

Christianity

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History Of Scholarship And Learning. The Humanities

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Language And Literature

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Philosophy, Psychology, And Religion

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Practical Theology

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Quotes

Natural Rights

Herbert Spencer on the right of political and economic “dissenters” to have their different beliefs and practices respected by the state (1842)

Herbert Spencer

Religion & Toleration

John Locke believed that the magistrate should not punish sin but only violations of natural rights and public peace (1689)

John Locke

Religion & Toleration

John Stuart Mill on the “religion of humanity” (c. 1858)

John Stuart Mill

Religion & Toleration

Pierre Bayle begins his defence of religious toleration with this appeal that the light of nature, or Reason, should be used to settle religious differences and not coercion (1708)

Pierre Bayle

Religion & Toleration

Voltaire argued that religious intolerance was against the law of nature and was worse than the “right of the tiger” (1763)

Voltaire

Science

Voltaire laments the destruction of Lisbon in an earthquake and criticises the philosophers who thought that “all’s well with the world” and the religious who thought it was “God’s will” (1755)

Voltaire

Religion & Toleration

Voltaire notes that where Commerce and Toleration predominate, a Multiplicity of Faiths can live together in Peace and Happiness (1764)

Voltaire