Andrew Pettegree, an historian of the early modern age, described the principle of religious toleration as “a loser’s creed.” As the Protestants emerged, in their not-quite-infinite variety, they demanded to be tolerated. But where Protestants were able to seize control they conveniently discovered a renewed appreciation of the virtues of uniformity and forgot their commitment to tolerance.
It’s easy to smirk. Was there ever a time when people believed in toleration? Certainly the ‘enormous condescension of posterity’ feels particularly inappropriate in our own time, with our various political sects simultaneously committed to the principle of free expression for themselves, while considering their own intolerance of heresy intrinsic to their moral righteousness.
Anyway. This isn’t going to be about left-wing students and no-platforming, or Breitbart and Milo, or even about the intricacies of the theology which tells us that Rachel Dolezal is the Worst, Most Oppressive Person Ever while Paris Lees…
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