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History of Christian thought on persecution and tolerance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article gives a historical overview of Christian positions on Persecution of Christians, persecutions by Christians, religious persecution and toleration. Christian theologians like Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas legitimized religious persecution to various extents, and during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Christians considered heresy and dissent punishable offences and they also fought wars to impose Christianity on non-Christian populations (or Christian sects whose beliefs they considered heretical). However, Early modern Europe witnessed the turning point in the history of Christian thought on persecution and tolerance. Christian writers like John Milton and John Locke argued for limited religious toleration, while some Christians eventually came to support the concept of religious freedom which was developed by secular authors like Thomas Jefferson. Nowadays Christians generally accept the belief that heresy and dissent are not punishable by a civil authority. Many Christians "look back on the centuries of persecution with a mixture of revulsion and incomprehension."[1]

Historical background

Early Christianity was a minority religion in the Roman Empire and the early Christians were persecuted during that time. After Constantine I stopped the persecution of Christians, it became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire. Already beginning under his reign, Christian heretics were persecuted; The most extreme case (as far as historians know) was the burning of Priscillian and six of his followers at the stake in 383.[2] In the view of many historians, the Constantinian shift turned Christianity from a persecuted into a persecuting religion.[3] Beginning in the late 4th century A.D. also the ancient pagan religions were actively suppressed.

After the decline of the Roman Empire, the further Christianization of Europe was to a large extent peaceful,[4] although Jews and Muslims were harshly persecuted, to an extent of forced conversions in Byzantine empire. Encounters between Christians and Pagans were sometimes confrontational, and some Christian kings (Charlemagne, Olaf I of Norway) were known for their violence against pagans. The Northern Crusades, a series of campaigns against the pagan Balts and Slavs of northeastern Europe, faced fierce pagan resistance, requiring decades of violence by dedicated warrior-monks to force the submission, and compel the conversion, of the region's inhabitants, who were often left as serfs to an imported Christian German-speaking nobility.[5] There were often severe consequences for populations that chose to resist; for example, the Christian conquest and conversion of Old Prussia resulted in the death of much of the native population, whose language subsequently became extinct.[6]

The persecution of Christian heretics resumed in 1022, when fourteen people were burned at Orléans.[2] Around this time Bogomilism and Catharism appeared in Europe; these sects were seen as heretical by the Catholic Church, and the Inquisition was initially established to counter them. Heavily persecuted, these heresies were eradicated by the 14th century. The suppression of the Cathar (or "Albigensian") faith took the form of the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229), a 20-year military campaign initiated by the Roman Catholic Church. Its violence was extreme even by medieval standards. Notable individuals who were executed for heresy in the late Middle Ages are Jerome of Prague, John Badby and Jan Hus. Only the Waldensians, another heretical Christian sect, managed to survive in remote areas in Northern Italy.

Also during the high Middle Ages, 1000-1250, the Crusades pitched Christians and Muslims against each other in a war about the possession of Jerusalem, with atrocities from both sides. There were massacres of Muslims and Jews when Jerusalem was taken by Crusaders in 1099. After Grand Duchy of Moscow and later the Tsardom had conquered the Kazan Khanate and Astrakhan Khanate in the 1550s, the government forcibly baptized Muslim Volga Tatars and pagan Chuvash, Mordva and Mari. Mosques were prohibited. This persecution ended only under the reign of Catherine II of Russia in the late eighteenth century.

The Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition also went on to persecute Jews and Muslims. In Spain after the Reconquista, Jews were forced to either convert or be exiled. Many were killed. The persecution of Jews goes back to 12th-century Visigothic Spain after the emergence of the blood libel against Jews. Although the Spanish had agreed to allow Muslims the freedom of religion in 1492, this was often ignored. In 1501, Muslims were offered the choice of conversion or exile. In 1556, Arab or Muslim dress was forbidden, and in 1566 Arabic language as a whole was prohibited in Spain.[7] Jews were eventually expelled from England by King Edward I, too.

When Martin Luther wrote his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517, Catholicism reacted the same way as it had to the heresies of the late Middle Ages. However, while the Protestant Reformation could be "crushed" in Spain with "a few dozen executions in the 1550s",[8] the same strategy failed in Germany, Northern Europe and in England. France had to suffer through the French Wars of Religion before it again became wholly Catholic. The divide between Catholicism and the new Protestant denominations was deep. Protestants commonly alleged that the catholic Pope was the Antichrist. Conflicts between Christian factions reached their heights in France with the 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, in Germany and Central Europe with the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) and in England with the English Civil War (1641–1651). Following the devastations caused by these wars, the ideas of religious toleration, freedom of religion and religious pluralism slowly gained ground in Europe. The Witch trials in Early Modern Europe, which had reached their height between 1550 and 1650, continued until 1750.

European Colonialism, that was accompanied by Christian evangelism and often by violence, led to the suppression of indigenous religions in the territories conquered or usurped by the Europeans. The Spanish colonization of the Americas largely destroyed the Aztec and Inca civilization. However, Colonialism (and later European Imperialism) as a whole were not motivated by religious zeal; the suppression of the indigenous religions was their side result, not their main purpose. Only partial aspects, like the Goa Inquisition, bear resemblance to the persecutions that occurred on the European continent. By the 18th century, persecutions of unsanctioned beliefs had been reduced in most Europeans countries to religious discrimination, in the form of legal restrictions on those who did not accept the official faith. This often included being barred from higher education, or from participation in the national legislature. In colonized nations, attempts to convert native peoples to Christianity became more encouraging and less forceful. In British India during the Victorian era, Christian converts were given preferential treatment for governmental appointments.

At the present time, most countries in which Christianity is the religion of the majority of the people, are either secular states or they embrace the separation of Church and State in another way. (A list of countries in which Christianity is still the state religion can be found in the article on State religion.) Some recent political conflicts are sometimes considered religious persecutions. Among these, there is the case of the Hue Vesak shootings in South Vietnam on May 8,[9] 1963 and the ethnic cleansing of Albanians, most of whom were Muslim, in Kosovo between 1992 and 1999, along with the genocide of the Bosnian Muslims.[10]

Christian Roman doctrine in 4th and 5th century A.D.

After he had adopted Christianity following the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Constantine I issued the Edict of Milan in 313 (together with his co-emperor Licinius). Since 306 there had already had been several edicts that granted Christians religious toleration in parts of the Empire, but the Edict of Milan removed all obstacles to the Christian faith and made the Empire officially neutral with regard to religious worship. Constantine supported the church with his patronage; he had an extraordinary number of large basilicas built for the Christian church, and endowed it with land and other wealth.[11] In doing this, however, he required the Pagans "to foot the bill".[11] According to Christian chroniclers it appeared necessary to Constantine "to teach his subjects to give up their rites (...) and to accustom them to despise their temples and the images contained therein,"[12] which led to the closure of pagan temples due to a lack of support, their wealth flowing to the imperial treasure;[13] Constantine I did not need to use force to implement this;[11] his subjects are said to simply have obeyed him out of fear. Only the chronicler Theophanes has added that temples "were annihilated", but this is considered "not true" by contemporary historians.[14] According to the historian Ramsay MacMullen Constantine desired to obliterate non-Christians but lacking the means he had to be content with robbing their temples towards the end of his reign.[15] He resorted to derogatory and contemptuous comments relating to the old religion; writing of the "obstinacy" of the pagans, of their "misguided rites and ceremonial", and of their "temples of lying" contrasted with "the splendours of the home of truth".[16]

During the course of his life he progressively became more Christian and turned away from any syncretic tendencies he appeared to favour at times and thus demonstrating, according to his biographers, that "The God of the Christians was indeed a jealous God who tolerated no other gods beside him. The Church could never acknowledge that she stood on the same plane with other religious bodies, she conquered for herself one domain after another".[17]

After the 3-year-reign of Julian the Apostate (ruled 361 to 363), who revived the Roman state paganism for a short time, the later Christian Roman Emperors sanctioned "attacks on pagan worship".[18] Towards the end of the 4th century Theodosius worked to establish Catholicism as the privileged religion in the Roman Empire."Theodosius was not the man to sympathise with the balancing policy of the Edict of Milan. He set himself steadfastly to the work of establishing Catholicism as the privileged religion of the state, of repressing dissident Christians (heretics) and of enacting explicit legal measures to abolish Paganism in all its phases."[19]

Two hundred and fifty years after Constantine was converted and began the long campaign of official temple destruction and outlawing of non-Christian worship Justinian was still engaged in the war of dissent.[20]

The Augustinian consensus

The transformation that happened in the 4th century lies at the heart of the debate between those Christian authors who advocated religious persecution and those who rejected it.[18] Most of all, the advocates of persecution looked to the writings of Augustine of Hippo,[18] the most influential of the Christian Church Fathers in the Latin West.[21] Initially (in the 390s), he had been sceptical about the use of coercion in religious matters. However, he changed his mind after he had witnessed how the Donatists (a schismatic Christian sect) were "brought over to the Catholic unity by fear of imperial edicts." When Augustine had characterized himself in De utilitate credenti (392), he said he was cupidus veri, eager for truth.[22] But in his 93. letter he described himself as quietis avidus, needing rest, and gave as reason the agitating Donatist.[22] From a position that had trusted the power of philosophical argumentation, Augustine had moved to a position that emphasised the authority of the church.[22] Augustine had become convinced of the effectiveness of mild forms of persecution and developed a defence of their use. His authority on this question was undisputed for over a millennium in Western Christianity.[18] Within this Augustinian consensus there was only disagreement about the extent to which Christians should persecute heretics. Augustine advocated fines, imprisonment, banishment and moderate floggings, but, according to Henry Chadwick, "would have been horrified by the burning of heretics."[23] In late Antiquity those burnings appear very rare indeed, the only certain case being the execution of Priscillian and six of his followers in 385. This sentence was roundly condemned by bishops like Ambrose, Augustine's mentor.[24]

The treatment of heretics

With the adoption of Christianity by Constantine I (after Battle of Milvian Bridge, 312), heresy had become a political issue in the late Roman empire. Adherents of unconventional Christian beliefs not covered by the Nicene Creed like Novatianism and Gnosticism were banned from holding meetings,[18] but the Roman emperor intervened especially in the conflict between orthodox and Arian Christianity, which resulted in the burning of Arian books.[18]

In contrast to the late antiquity, the execution of heretics was much more easily approved in the late Middle Ages, after the Christianization of Europe was largely completed. The first known case is the burning of fourteen people at Orléans in 1022.[24] In the following centuries groups like the Bogomils, Waldensians, Cathars and Lollards were persecuted throughout Europe. The Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) codified the theory and practise of persecution.[24] In its third canon, the council declared: "Secular authorities, whatever office they may hold, shall be admonished and induced and if necessary compelled by ecclesiastical censure, .. to take an oath that they will strive .. to exterminate in the territories subject to their jurisdiction all heretics pointed out by the Church."[25]

In the process of eliminating these heretical movements, Church officials, especially members of the Inquisition, made widespread use of torture to provoke confessions. Heretics who refused to recant their beliefs were hanged or burnt alive.[26] At the Siege of Béziers during the Albigensian Crusade (launched to eliminate the Cathars in Languedoc, crusaders under the direction of a papal legate, Arnaud Amalric killed an estimated 20,000 people, both Cathars and orthodox Catholics.[27]

The Old Testament has been the main source for Christian theologians advocating religious persecution. An example of this would be John Jewel. In defending the demand for religious uniformity by Elizabeth I of England, he declared: "Queen Elizabeth doth as did Moses, Josua, David, Salomon, Josias, Jesophat, ..." [28]

In the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, violent persecution of non-Christians became widely accepted by the Catholic Church within the framework of the Crusades. These tactics were particularly widely used in the Northern Crusades, where Christian rulers – and, later, monastic orders such as the Teutonic Knights – waged a centuries-long series of campaigns to compel the pagan Balts and Slavs of the region to convert by conquering them and settling in the newly conquered territory as feudal rulers.[29] The region’s inhabitants resisted conquest, and, even once subjected, rebelled repeatedly in an effort to reject Christianity and reverse the conquest. As part of these campaigns, forced conversions were widespread; massacre and atrocity, combined with the capture and killing of hostages to compel surrender and conversion, were commonly used tactics.[30][31] These tactics sometimes reached such extremes that they caused large-scale depopulation of some regions through the extermination or fleeing of local inhabitants;[32] the Old Prussian people vanished as a distinct culture as a result of the Prussian Crusade.[6]

The Church’s acceptance of forced conversion was a new ideological development within Christianity. Beginning with the Wendish Crusade, the Church began to sponsor and endorse forced conversion through conquest, something it had hitherto not done.[33] An example of how the use of forced conversion was justified, in the medieval Church, as compatible with previous Church doctrine on the subject can be found for instance in a statement made by Pope Innocent III in 1201 about those who agreed to be baptized to avoid torture and intimidation:

[T]hose who are immersed even though reluctant, do belong to ecclesiastical jurisdiction at least by reason of the sacrament, and might therefore be reasonably compelled to observe the rules of the Christian Faith. It is, to be sure, contrary to the Christian Faith that anyone who is unwilling and wholly opposed to it should be compelled to adopt and observe Christianity. For this reason a valid distinction is made by some between kinds of unwilling ones and kinds of compelled ones. Thus one who is drawn to Christianity by violence, through fear and through torture, and receives the sacrament of Baptism in order to avoid loss, he (like one who comes to Baptism in dissimulation) does receive the impress of Christianity, and may be forced to observe the Christian Faith as one who expressed a conditional willingness though, absolutely speaking, he was unwilling ...[34]

In addition to sponsoring forced conversion, the Church accepted the use of forced conversion as a pretext for the elimination of hostile or recalcitrant tribes that did not easily submit to conquest.[35] In 1171 or 1172, Pope Alexander III, in the Bull Nos parum animus noster, declared the conquest and forced conversion of pagans in northern Europe an official Crusade, recognizing it as a spiritually meritorious activity whose participants would receive the same remission of sin as those fighting in Levant.[36] The concept of just war was extended to include any war against pagans, with tactics traditionally outside the concept of just war included as acceptable.[37] Dominican friars helped ideologically justify the crusades and their tactics by portraying the pagans as evil and deserving of conquest, persecution and forced conversion in their preaching in support of the crusades.[38]

The Protestant theory of persecution

The Protestant Reformation changed the face of Western Christianity forever, but initially it did nothing to change the Christian endorsement of religious persecution. The Reformers "fully embraced" Augustine's advocacy of coercion in religious matters, and many regarded the death penalty for heresy as legitimate.[24] Furthermore, by presenting a much more powerful threat to Catholic unity than the heretic groups of the Middle Ages, the Reformation led to the intensification of persecution under Catholic regimes.

  • Martin Luther had written against persecution in the 1520s, and had demonstrated genuine sympathy towards the Jews in his earlier writings, especially in Das Jesus ein geborener Jude sei (That Jesus was born as a Jew) from 1523, but after 1525 his position hardened. In Wider die Sabbather an einen guten Freund (Against the Sabbather to a Good Friend), 1538, he still considered a conversion of the Jews to Christianity as possible,[39] but in 1543 he published On the Jews and their Lies, a "violent anti-semitic tract."[40]
  • John Calvin helped to secure the execution for heresy of Michael Servetus,[41] although he unsuccessfully requested that he should be beheaded instead of being burned at the stake.

Effectively, however, the 16th-century Protestant view was less extreme than the mediaeval Catholic position. In England, John Foxe, John Hales, Richard Perrinchief, Herbert Thorndike and Jonas Proast all only saw mild forms of persecution against the English Dissenters as legitimate.[42] But (with the probable exception of John Foxe), this was only a retraction in degree, not a full rejection of religious persecution. There is also the crucial distinction between dissent and heresy to consider. Most dissenters disagreed with the Anglican Church only on secondary matters of worship and ecclesiology, and although this was a considered a serious sin, only a few 17th-century Anglican writers thought that this 'crime' deserved the death penalty.[43] These concerns notwithstanding, the English government saw fit to execute as treasonous a multitude of priests, dissenters, and recusant Catholics, even those who retained but private reservations.[citation needed] The English Act of Supremacy thus significantly complicated the matter by securely welding Church and state.

The Elizabethan bishop Thomas Bilson was of the opinion that men ought to be "corrected, not murdered", but he did not condemn the Christian Emperors for executing the Manichaeans for "monstrous blasphemies".[44] The Lutheran theologian Georgius Calixtus argued for the reconciliation of Christendom by removing all unimportant differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, and Rupertus Meldenius advocated in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas (in necessary things unity; in uncertain things freedom; in everything compassion) in 1626.

Protestant advocacy for toleration

The English Protestant 'Call for Toleration'

While the Christian theologians mentioned above advocated religious persecution to various extents, it was also Christians who helped pioneer the concept of religious toleration.

In his book on 'The English Reformation', particularly in the chapter 'The Origins of Religious Toleration', the late A. G. Dickens argued that from the beginning of the Reformation there had "existed in Protestant thought – in Zwingli, Melanchthon and Bucer, as well as among the Anabaptists – a more liberal tradition, which John Frith was perhaps the first echo in England".[45] Condemned for heresy, Frith was burnt at the stake in 1533. In his own mind, he died not because of the denial of the doctrines on purgatory and transubstantiation but "for the principle that a particular doctrine on either point was not a necessary part of a Christian's faith".[46] In other words, there was an important distinction to be made between a genuine article of faith and other matters where a variety of very different conclusions should be tolerated within the Church. This stand against unreasonable and profligate dogmatism meant that Frith, "to a greater extent than any other of our early Protestants", upheld "a certain degree of religious freedom".[46]

Frith was not alone. John Foxe, for example, "strove hard to save Anabaptists from the fire, and he enunciated a sweeping doctrine of tolerance even towards Catholics, whose doctrines he detested with every fibre of his being".[47]

In the early 17th century, Thomas Helwys was principal formulator of that distinctively Baptist request: that the church and the state be kept separate in matters of law, so that individuals might have a freedom of religious conscience. Helwys said the King "is a mortal man, and not God, therefore he hath no power over the mortal soul of his subjects to make laws and ordinances for them and to set spiritual Lords over them".[48] King James I had Helwys thrown into Newgate prison, where he had died by 1616 at about the age of forty.

By the time of the English Revolution Helwys' stance on religious toleration was more commonplace. However, whilst accepting their zeal in desiring a 'godly society', some contemporary historians doubt whether the English Puritans during the English Revolution were as committed to religious liberty and pluralism as traditional histories have suggested. However, historian John Coffey's recent work[49] emphasises the contribution of a minority of radical Protestants who steadfastly sought toleration for heresy, blasphemy, Catholicism, non-Christian religions, and even atheism. This minority included the Seekers, as well as the General Baptists and the Levellers. Their collective witness demanded the church be an entirely voluntary, non-coercive community able to evangelise in a pluralistic society governed by a purely civil state. Such a demand was in sharp contrast to the ambitions of the magisterial Protestantism of the Calvinist majority.

In 1644 the "Augustinian consensus concerning persecution was irreparably fractured."[50] This year can be identified quite exactly, because 1644 saw the publication of John Milton's Areopagitica, William Walwyn's The Compassionate Samaritane, Henry Robinson's Liberty of Conscience and Roger William's The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution. These authors were Puritans or had dissented from the Church of England, and their radical Protestantism led them to condemn religious persecution, which they saw as a popish corruption of primitive Christianity.[51] Other non-Anglican writers advocating toleration were Richard Overton, John Wildman and John Goodwin, the Baptists Samuel Richardson and Thomas Collier and the Quakers Samuel Fisher and William Penn. Anglicans who argued against persecution were: John Locke, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, James Harrington, Jeremy Taylor, Henry More, John Tillotson and Gilbert Burnet.[52]

All of these considered themselves Christians or were actual churchmen. John Milton and John Locke are the predecessors of modern liberalism. Although Milton was a Puritan and Locke an Anglican, Areopagitica and A Letter concerning Toleration are canonical liberal texts.[53] Only from the 1690s onwards the philosophy of Deism emerged, and with it a third group that advocated religious toleration, but, unlike the radical Protestants and the Anglicans, also rejected biblical authority; this group prominently includes Voltaire, Frederick II of Prussia, Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, Thomas Jefferson and the English-Irish philosopher John Toland.[51] When Toland published the writings of Milton, Edmund Ludlow and Algernon Sidney, he tried to downplay the Puritan divinity in these works.[54]

The Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II, issued the Patent of Toleration in 1781.

Developments in 17th-century England

Following the debates that started in the 1640s the Church of England was the first Christian church to grant adherents of other Christian denominations freedom of worship, with the Act of Toleration 1689, which nevertheless still retained some forms of religious discrimination and did not include toleration for Catholics. At present, only individuals who are members of the Church of England at the time of the succession may become the British monarch.

In the United States

The Puritan-Whig tradition of toleration did have their greatest effect not in England, but in the Thirteen Colonies that would later form the United States.[54] Notable tolerationists were directly involved in the founding of the colonies. Roger Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island, "a haven for persecuted minorities,"[54] John Locke drafted the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina and William Penn drew up the constitution of Pennsylvania. Voltaire pointed the readers of his Traité sur la Tolérance (1763) specifically to the examples of Carolina and Pennsylvania.[54] People like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John Adams stood self-consciously in the tradition of Milton, Sidney and Locke, and extended their tolerationism further to also apply to Catholics and atheists.[55] Coffey considers it possible to argue, "that the tolerationist tradition of seventeenth-century England reached its fulfilment in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and the First Amendment to the American Constitution."[55]

That the North American colonies and later the United States provided a refuge for religious minorities from Europe partly explains the higher degree of religiosity in the contemporary United States and the "unusual sectarian quality of U.S. Protestantism".[56] Compared to Europe, "the United States has a superabundance of denominations and sects (...) as well as a far higher ratio of churchgoers."[57] Which importance the Christian religion should have in the United States, with its strong concept of Separation of church and state, is a contentious question. For political commentator Kevin Phillips, "few questions will be more important to the twenty-first-century United States than whether renascent religion and its accompanying hubris will be carried on the nation's books as an asset or as a liability."[58]

According to a 2008 survey, 65% of US-American Christians believe that many religions can lead to eternal life.[59] 52% of US-American Christians think that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life.[59]

(At its surface, the percentages above seem contradictory; the key is in the appellation of the term non-Christian in the second, lesser quantity. For some Christians, different sects of Christianity represent "different religions." These people thus mistake the survey term "many religions" to mean "different sects of Christianity," even though that is not the commonly intended use of the phrase. What the survey really shows is that more US Christians believe that God can make himself known through multiple Christian sects, than believe that He can make Himself known even through other religions. It is worth noting that a majority of US Christians take the more inclusive stance.)

The mid-20th-century Spanish model

As of the mid-20th century, an example of Catholic church-state relations was the Catholic situation in Franco's Spain, where under the National Catholicism doctrine the Catholic Church:

  • was officially recognized and protected by the state,
  • had substantial control over social policy, and
  • had this relationship explicitly set out in a Concordat.

It had long been the policy of the Catholic Church to support toleration of competing religions under such a scheme, but to support legal restrictions on attempts to convert Catholics to those religions, under the motto that "error has no rights".[citation needed]

Modern Roman Catholic policy

On the seventh of December 1965 The Catholic Church's Vatican II council issued the decree "Dignitatis humanae" which dealt with the rights of the person and communities to social and civil liberty in religious matters. It states: "2. The Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that all men should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and every human power so that, within due limits, nobody is forced to act against his convictions in religious matters in private or public, alone or in associations with others. The Vatican Council further declares that the right of religious freedom is based on the very word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civic right...but if it [the civil authority] presumes to control or restrict religious activity it must be said to have exceeded the limits of its power...Therefore, provided the just requirements of public order are not violated, these groups [i.e. religious communities] have a right to immunity so that they may organize their own lives according to their religious principles...From this it follows that it is wrong for a public authority to compel its citizens by force or fear or any other means to profess or repudiate any religion or to prevent anyone from joining or leaving a religious body. There is even more serious transgression of God's will and of the sacred rights of the individual person and the family of nations when force is applied to wipe out or repress religion either throughout the whole world or in a single region or in a particular community".[60]

On 12 March 2000 Pope John Paul II prayed for forgiveness because "Christians have often denied the Gospel; yielding to a mentality of power, they have violated the rights of ethnic groups and peoples, and shown contempt for their cultures and religious traditions" [61]

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) wrote "The quality of exemplarity which the honest admission of past faults can exert on attitudes within the Church and civil society should also be noted, for it gives rise to a renewed obedience to the Truth and to respect for the dignity and the rights of others, most especially, of the very weak. In this sense, the numerous requests for forgiveness formulated by John Paul II constitute an example that draws attention to something good and stimulates the imitation of it, recalling individuals and groups of people to an honest and fruitful examination of conscience with a view to reconciliation"[62]

See also


  • John Coffey (2000), Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England 1558-1689, Studies in Modern History, Pearson Education
  • Ramsay MacMullen, "Christianizing The Roman Empire A.D.100-400, Yale University Press, 1984, ISBN 0-300-03642-6
  • Ramsay MacMullen, "Christianity & Paganism in the Fourth to Eight Centuries", Yale University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-300-07148-5


  1. ^ Coffey 2000: 206.
  2. ^ a b Coffey 2000: 23
  3. ^ Coffey 2000: 22
  4. ^ Lutz E. von Padberg (1998), Die Christianisierung Europas im Mitterlalter, Reclam (in German), p. 183
  5. ^ Christiansen, Eric. The Northern Crusades. London: Penguin Books. pg. 14-15.
  6. ^ a b The German Hansa, P. Dollinger, page 34, 1999, Routledge
  7. ^ Lapidus, Ira M. (1988). A History of Islamic societes. Cambridge University Press. p. 389. ISBN 0-521-22552-3.
  8. ^ Coffey 2000: 212
  9. ^ Tucker, p. 291.
  10. ^ Barbara Larkin (editor). International Religious Freedom (2000): Report to Congress by the Department of State. ISBN 0-7567-1229-7.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  11. ^ a b c MacMullan 1984:49.
  12. ^ quoted after MacMullan 1984:49.
  13. ^ MacMullan 1984:50.
  14. ^ MacMullan 1984: 141, Note 35 to Chapter V; Theophanes, Chron. a. 322 (PG 108.117)
  15. ^ MacMullan 1984:96.
  16. ^ "A History of the Church", Philip Hughes, Sheed & Ward, rev ed 1949, vol I chapter 6.[1]
  17. ^ C. G. Herbermann & Georg Grupp, "Constantine the Great", Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911, New Advent web site.
  18. ^ a b c d e f Coffey 2000:22.
  19. ^ "Studies in Comparative Religion, "The Conversion of the Roman Empire, Philip Hughes, Vol 3, CTS.
  20. ^ R. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eight Centuries, P151, ISBN 0-300-07148-5
  21. ^ Augustine and Manichaeism in the Latin West, ed. by Johannes van Oort et al., 2001, back cover
  22. ^ a b c Kurt Flasch: Augustin - Einführung in sein Denken (in German), 3. ed., Reclam, 2003, p.168
  23. ^ quoted after Coffey 2000: 23.
  24. ^ a b c d Coffey 2000:23.
  25. ^ Medieval Sourcebook: Twelfth Ecumenical Council: Lateran IV 1215
  26. ^ Sean Martin, The Cathars: The Most Successful Heresy of the Middle Ages, Pocket Essentials, 2005, p.g. 105-120
  27. ^ Zoé Oldenbourg. Massacre at Montségur. A History of the Albigension Crusade (1961). Phoenix, 2006. p. 109ff. ISBN 1-84212-428-5.
  28. ^ John Coffey, Persecution and Toleration on Protestant England 1558-1689, 2000, p.31
  29. ^ Christiansen, Eric. The Northern Crusades. London: Penguin Books. pg. 14-15
  30. ^ Christiansen, Eric. The Northern Crusades. London: Penguin Books. pg. 73, 88.
  31. ^ Tyerman, Christopher. “Henry of Livonia and the Ideology of Crusading,” in Crusading and Chronicle Writing on the Medieval Baltic Frontier: A Companion to the Chronicle of Henry of Livonia, eds, Marek Tamm, Linda Kaljundi, and Carsten Selch Jensen. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2011. pg. 23, 678-79.
  32. ^ Forstreuter, Kurt. Deutschland und Litauen. Königsberg: Ost-europa, 1938. p. 9
  33. ^ Haverkamp, Alfred. Medieval Germany: 1056-1273. Trans. Helga Braun and Richard Mortimer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. p.g. 157-158
  34. ^ Chazan, Robert, ed., Church, State, and Jew in the Middle Ages, West Orange, NJ:Behrman House, 1980, p. 103.
  35. ^ Fonnesberg-Schmidt, Iben. “Pope Honorius III and Mission and Crusades in the Baltic Region”. In The Clash of Cultures on the Medieval Baltic Frontier. Ed. Alan V. Murray. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2009. p.g. 119.
  36. ^ Christiansen, Eric. The Northern Crusades. London: Penguin Books. pg. 71.
  37. ^ Urban, William. The Teutonic Knights: A Military History. South Yorkshire: Pen &Sword Books Ltd.,2011. p.g. 9
  38. ^ Boockmann, Harmut & Johannes Falkenberg. Der Deutsche Orden und die polnische Politik. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1975. p.g. 58
  39. ^ Thomas Kaufmann, 2005: Luthers "Judenschriften in ihren historischen Kontexten (Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen) (in German), p. 526
  40. ^ Coffey 2000: 23, 24
  41. ^ Coffey 2000: 24.
  42. ^ see Coffey 2000: 24,25.
  43. ^ Coffey 2000: 25
  44. ^ Coffey 2000: 24,26; Thomas Bilson 1585, The True Difference between Christian Subjection and Unchristian Rebellion, pp. 19,20, 383.
  45. ^ Dickens, A.G. (1978). 'The English Reformation'. London & Glasgow: Fontana/Collins. p. 438.;
  46. ^ a b Dickens, A.G. (1978). 'The English Reformation'. London & Glasgow: Fontana/Collins. p. 116.;
  47. ^ Dickens, A.G. (1978). 'The English Reformation'. London & Glasgow: Fontana/Collins. pp. 439–440.;
  48. ^ Helwys, Thomas (1612). ‘A Short Declaration on the Mystery of Iniquity’.;
  49. ^ Coffey, John (1998) "Puritanism & Liberty Revisited: The Case for Toleration in the English Revolution", The Historical Journal, Cambridge University Press.
  50. ^ Coffey 2000: 47.
  51. ^ a b Coffey 2000: 50.
  52. ^ This list is taken from: Coffey (2000), 50
  53. ^ Coffey 2000: 206; A. Patterson, Early Modern Liberalism, Cambridge 1997
  54. ^ a b c d Coffey 2000: 207.
  55. ^ a b Coffey 2000: 208.
  56. ^ Kevin Phillips (2006): American Theocracy. The Perils and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century. p. 104
  57. ^ Kevin Phillips (2006): 105.
  58. ^ Kevin Phillips (2006): 99.
  59. ^ a b "Many Americans Say Other Faiths Can Lead to Eternal Life". PEW Forum. December 18, 2008.
  60. ^ Austin Flannery (General Editor), Vatican Council II - The Conciliar and Post Concilliar Documents, 1981 Edition
  61. ^ "POPE JOHN PAUL II ASKS FOR FORGIVENESS". Sacred Heart University. March 12, 2000. Retrieved April 16, 2007.
  62. ^ Cardinal Ratzinger, Joseph. ""MEMORY AND RECONCILIATION: THE CHURCH AND THE FAULTS OF THE PAST", International Theological Commission held in Rome from 1998 to 1999". Retrieved 17 April 2008.

Further reading

  • John Courtney Murray; J. Leon Hooper (1993). Religious Liberty: Catholic Struggles With Pluralism. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-664-25360-8.
  • Robert P. Geraci; Michael Khodarkovsky (2001). Of Religion and Empire: Missions, Conversion, and Tolerance in Tsarist Russia. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-3327-6.
  • Ole Peter Grell; Bob Scribner (2002). Tolerance and Intolerance in the European Reformation. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-89412-8.
  • R. Po-Chia Hsia; Henk Van Nierop (2002). Calvinism and Religious Toleration in the Dutch Golden Age. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80682-4.
  • Chris Beneke (2006): Beyond toleration. the religious origins of American pluralism, Oxford University Press
  • Alexandra Walsham (2006): Charitable hatred. Tolerance and intolerance in England, 1500 - 1700, Manchester University Press
  • Hans Erich Bödeker; Clorinda Donato; Peter Reill (2008). Discourses of Tolerance & Intolerance in the European Enlightenment. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-1-4426-9136-0.
  • C. Scott Dixon; Dagmar Freist; Mark Greengrass (2009). Living With Religious Diversity in Early-Modern Europe. Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-6668-4.
  • Adam Wolfson (2010). Persecution or Toleration: An Explication of the Locke-Proast Quarrel, 1689-1704. Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-7391-4724-5.
  • John Corrigan; Lynn S. Neal (2010). Religious Intolerance in America: A Documentary History. Univ of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-3389-6.
  • John Laursen; Cary Nederman (2011). Beyond the Persecuting Society: Religious Toleration Before the Enlightenment. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-1567-0.
  • Chris Beneke; Christopher Grenda (2011). The First Prejudice: Religious Tolerance and Intolerance in Early America. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-4270-6.
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