This chapter analyzes the concept of religious toleration. Religious toleration has long been the paradigm of the liberal ideal of toleration of group differences, as reflected in both the constitutions of the major Western democracies and in the theoretical literature explaining and justifying these practice. But while the historical reasons for the special “pride of place” accorded religious toleration are familiar, what may be more surprising is that no one has been able to articulate a credible principled argument for tolerating religion qua religion—that is, an argument that would explain why, as a matter of moral principle, we ought to accord special legal and moral treatment to religious practices. The answer in this book is: not because of anything that has to do with it being religion as such.
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