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Discussion 8 to Meditation 109
Freedom of religion is of transcendent importance

by: M.M.

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re: What power? Which Church? And why?

I thought you might enjoy, or at least find pertinent, this passage, transcribed from p. 265 of The Therapeutic State, by Thomas Szasz:

Freedom of religion is indeed a political idea of transcendent importance.  As that idea has been understood in the United States, it does not mean that members of the traditional churches - that is, Christians, Jews, and Muslims - may practice their faith unmolested by the government but that others - for example, Jehovah's Witnesses - may not.  American religious freedom is unconditional; it is not contingent on any particular church proving, to the satisfaction of the state, that its principles or practices possess "religious efficacy."

The requirement that the supporters of a religion establish its theological credentials in order to be tolerated is the hallmark of a theological state.  In Spain, under the Inquisition, there was, in an ironic sense, religious tolerance; religion was tolerated, indeed, actively encouraged.  The point is that religions other than Roman Catholicism were considered to be heresies.

M.M.

Toronto