*Persecution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom*

That is the forthcoming book by my excellent colleagues Noel Johnson and Mark Koyama, due out next January, you can now pre-order here.

Here is the Amazon summary:

Religious freedom has become an emblematic value in the West. Embedded in constitutions and championed by politicians and thinkers across the political spectrum, it is to many an absolute value, something beyond question. Yet how it emerged, and why, remains widely misunderstood. Tracing the history of religious persecution from the Fall of Rome to the present-day, Noel Johnson and Mark Koyama provide a novel explanation of the birth of religious liberty. This book treats the subject in an integrative way by combining economic reasoning with historical evidence from medieval and early modern Europe. The authors elucidate the economic and political incentives that shaped the actions of political leaders during periods of state building and economic growth.

I have read the entire thing (a slightly earlier draft), very definitely recommended.


Is it safe to say that the Sunni and Shiate split has to be resolved through a Thirty Years war like the Catholics and Protestants?

Of course. The carnage following the year 1054 schism between Catholics and Orthodox was horrendous ;)

The 1203-1204 siege and plunder of orthodox Constantinople by Catholics during the 4th Crusade might be assumed as a religious war but.....it's hard to trace the causality over 150 years.

It can be said that the Catholic-Orthodox schism was a lot less violent than the Catholic-Reformed one. So, not all splits end in Thirty Years Wars.

The East-West schism involved top level divisions with no real change in actual practice. And the two churches were geographically separate from each other. There weren't minorities of each faith in each other's countries (other than some merchant communities) so there less potential for persecution

Peaceful coexistence of Christian sects is compatible with the views and feelings presented by Paul in the Letters and by Augustine in CONFESSIONS. Peaceful coexistence of Muslim sects is incompatible with the core Muslim doctrine of world-conquest By Any Means Necessary.

Is that a "core Muslim doctrine" or merely an extreme take by some in lacking toleration of others?

My understanding (second hand so ...) is that the Koran has both condemnation of other faiths and support and protection -- much as the other two main variants of this monotheist religion. One could easily paint christianity with the crusaider brush.

I think history has also show the Islamic world to embrace others in many periods of time -- it preserve the knowledge from Greece and I think for many years the academics in Europe, coming out of the dark ages, though Aristotal was Arab.

Perhaps you're on the persecution side of the pendulum.

Surah 9:

And [it is] an announcement from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah is disassociated from the disbelievers, and [so is] His Messenger. So if you repent, that is best for you; but if you turn away - then know that you will not cause failure to Allah . And give tidings to those who disbelieve of a painful punishment.

Excepted are those with whom you made a treaty among the polytheists and then they have not been deficient toward you in anything or supported anyone against you; so complete for them their treaty until their term [has ended]. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous [who fear Him].

And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.


O you who have believed, indeed the polytheists are unclean, so let them not approach al-Masjid al-Haram after this, their [final] year. And if you fear privation, Allah will enrich you from His bounty if He wills. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Wise.

Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

The Jews say, "Ezra is the son of Allah "; and the Christians say, "The Messiah is the son of Allah ." That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?

I am specifically trying not pull this out of context, but the Surah as a whole goes into great detail about when Muslims should fight and kill non-Muslims. The historical reading by Muslim theologians was that treaties were temporary until such time as the Muslim power(s) could impose Dar al Islam on states currently protected by treaties. I am told the Arabic is pretty simplistic that polytheists should be outright killed if they do not convert. For Christians, Jews and (maybe) Manicheans/Sabeans there is tolerance, if they pay a tax to Muslim overlords.

Further if you look at those periods of tolerance we see the state being tolerant and the religious elite being behind persecution. For instance Akbar's tolerance of Hindus and heterodox Muslims was directly responsible for multiple fatwas being put forth against him and driving the largest revolt of his reign. In Christian societies it was almost always the reverse, the state was by far less tolerant (e.g. the Spanish Inquisition was run by the state and was far more persucatory than the one run by the Church itself). Even with the 30 years war, the major movers were secular leaders (e.g. Cologne potentially giving Protestants a majority in the Holy Roman Electorate was a much larger deal than when many other territories converted). While Ferdinand II was busy launching the bloodiest war in the Empire's history, one which surely doomed it, the pope, Urban VIII, was busy trying to help a Protestant secure inheritance of Mantua. The other Popes of this era were hardly more blood thirsty (e.g. Gregory XV lessened the punishment for witchcraft and made a fiscal contribution to the Catholic League, Paul V was exhorting Catholics to be loyal subjects to James I). Even going to the Crusades, the worst of the massacres were commanded not by the religious leaders (e.g. Adhemer) but by the secular ones (e.g. Bohemond).

This is pretty common dynamic. The secular leaders of the Crusade, the Catholic League, and the Spanish colonies were pretty much universally less tolerant than the religious leaders. In contrast, the religious leaders of Muslim states were almost universally less tolerant than the secular leaders.

Ultimately we can read both books for ourselves and as one of the rare folks who has gone through both I certainly take away a general sense that Islam is much keener on creating a unified politico-religious state that enforces Islam than Christianity. Christianity demands conversion, Islam demands submission. The difference does seem to allow Christian lands to be much more tolerant.

The same way the Law of Moses ordered the slaughter of his enemies? https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+15%3A32-36&version=KJVYet, we have many Jewish sects gruddling accepting to coexist today.

There is much more plurarism between Muslims (several jurisprudence schools, whose influence crosses borders for instance) than there was among Ancient Jews. As their treatment of Early Christian Judaizers clearly shows. It is hard to see what early Christians would have profited in safety and freedom if they were a Muslim sect instead of a Jewish one.


Persecution and extermination were common occurrences. Let us be blunt: Zionists do not care about freedom, they just profit from it.

Shouldn't you be off Making Brazil Great Again?

There are some cabinet posts still to fill.

Most cabinet posts will be filled soon. Actually president Bolsonaro has vouched to half the number of cabinet posts so graft, waste and corruption stop plaguing Brazil's government.

President Bolsonaro is going to Brasília next week to spearhead the approval of key economic reforms and form the cabinet. He has already invited famous thought anti-corruption judge Moro (who sent former corrupt, leftist President Lula to jail) to be Justice Minister. The Economy, Defense, Casa Civil (something like Political Articulation) and Science Posts are already filled.

You know, Thiago, I actually wish him well.

The look on the faces of the BBC journalists when he was elected was well worth it.

know the national versions.

Yeah, but Islam is the only major religion where there's still real sectarian violence occurring.

It says less about the religion and about how reformable it is than about the fact Jews spent two millenia not being able to kill their rivals in Christian and Muslim countries. Quoting a surah (or Bible verses) says nothing about it.

Stop making this about Jews, Bowers.

So what is sauce for the gose is not sauce for the gander? You can dish it, but you can't take it.
As President Bolsonaro said, quoting the Holy Bible, in his victory speech, "the truth shall set you free",.

I can appreciate your effort not to cherry pick. I think it difficult to fully say you prove your point. First, you're dealing with a translation (which is taboo for muslim I believe ;-) so you have the translation problem.

Which is exactly were we start isn't it? When people are reading these old text and attempting to interpret them in a modern setting where languages have changed over time it's problematic.

Yes, I get the theist versus polytheist problem here but the extent to which the different followers of the same god are subject to killing....

Perhaps you are an expert on the text. But I'm not sure one exists give then time (and isn't it the case that basically no one alive today can actually read the original?) If so then Islam has the same problem the Jews and Christians have: the word of god is actually just a restatement by (often very many) men at best. As such just what is the underlying "religion" position?

At one level maybe it doesn't matter. For ISIS I think they would be happy with your analysis. For many other muslim, seems we're struck with them being coy and deceptive or Islam is as much about peace as Christianity is.

As my other comment to the blog post notes, I do think we're in a period of intolerance -- pretty much across the board, not merely religious.

All very difficult to unpack but I'm pretty sure it means things are going to suck for a lot of people over the next 20 or 30 years.

As noted we do have several centuries of Islamic jurispondence as was as practical results.

The long and the short of it is that polytheists were killed in great number by Muslims with exceedingly few missionary activities not at the point of the sword (e.g. Bengal and Indonesia were such exceptions). In contrast basically every recorded Christianization effort was preceded by peaceful missionaries and that remained true from the Anglo-Saxons to the Rus to the New World.

Islam further has the trouble that many, many specific things about commerce and general administration are explicitly specified.

You can argue that this is all interpretation, but historical Muslims disagreed. The secular leadership routinely assumed religious leadership as well (Caliph being a title repeatedly used for both offices) and actually did lie in ambush to kill polytheists.

The fact is the further back in time we go, the more bloodthirsty the commentaries are. For instance just prior to Yarmouk (when the Arabs broke Byzantine control of the Levant) the generals from the two sides met. The Byzantine general offered to pay off the Arab forces if they would simply withdraw. In response Khalid bin al-Walid is quoted by Muslim sources as saying, "It was not hunger that brought us here,” Khalid responded coolly, “It was not hunger that brought us here, but we Arabs are in the habit of drinking blood, and we are told the blood of the Romans is the sweetest of its kind, so we came to shed your blood and drink it."

This was by a man who was a contemporary of the Prophet. He then gave the Byzantines the literal choice of converting or dying.

Why might he have done this? Well the Arab world had just finished the Apostacy Wars where all those who "converted" during the life of the prophet and "renounced" Islam on his death with put to death.

Which comes to one of those real world points. The Quran is pretty explicit that apostates are to be executed. Public opinion shows majority support for such executions in places as varied as Malaysia, Pakistan, Jordan, and Egypt. And this is not an academic debate, most Muslim states have death penalties for apostasy and many enforce them every year.

This is not new. We have recorded instances of the death penalty in the Quran itself, every major source of hadith and in every major Muslim state throughout history.

Given my experiences in Islamic countries I can fairly safely say that many Muslims have no idea what is actually in the Quran and I suspect many are either distorting or abandoning the problematic passages found in it. Nonetheless we really are looking at differences in both quality and quantity when it comes to religious violence between Islam and Christianity.

I don't know where you're getting your history but it's dead wrong. First off the Arabs did not conquer any Byzantine territory until well after Mohammed's death. Secondly the Byzantine populace was not forcibly converted. In fact at that time only Arabs could become Muslims: foreigners were excluded from the religion. Christianity remained the majority religion in the Levant for centuries after the Arab conquest and even today there are substantial Christian minorities in that part of the world.

Khalid ibn al-Walid was born in 592. In 625 he fought Mohammed himself as commander for Mecca before his conversion.

Mohammed died in 632.

In 636 al-Walid was at Yarmouk (after having pillaged Syria for two years previously).

After Yarmouk Heraclius fled Antioch and abandoned not only the Levant, but also withdrew the Imperial garrisons from Armenia and some Anatolian territory.

By 642 the Caliphate had captured Egypt.

But do tell, why don't you believe traditional Islamic sources about the timing of the conquest of the Levant, what are you dates?

I know the Muslims did not force convert the Levant, they just enslaved much of the population during their raids in 634. After that they demanded the payment of tax and the establishment of supremacy.

The words of al-Walid were recorded by Islamic historians. He did indeed demand conversion or death.

There was largely peaceful conversion to Islam in parts of Africa south of the nations bordering the Med. JonFraz is also right that conversion was gradual in the central Caliphate zones, with a majority becoming Muslim only by around 1000.

As for the supposed peacefulness of Christian conversions, you threw the New World in there, but in fact in most of the New World conversions of indigenous people was very often enforced at the point of a gun. How poorly informed are you, Sure?

Very few parts of Africa had peaceful Islamic Missionaries. You had a few Sufi orders (many of which were deemed heretical by their contemporaries) who had their largest impact in Mali, but generally the missionaries followed political conquest (e.g. the Swahili states conquered inland before the missionaries are recorded as having arrived). It was pretty rare to have Islamic missionaries in states that were not already ruled by Islamic rulers.

And had you been more careful in your reading I said conversion was "preceded by", not "caused by". Before Cortez conquered Mexico there were already Franciscans operating in the general area. In many places the monks were on the ground before the Spanish state.

I am under no illusions about the use of force, but it is telling how few Islamic missionaries, even today, go and preach actual peaceful conversion. In contrast, history is replete with Islamic states first conquering areas and then inducing the population to change.

And again, history is pretty consistent. Generally the Ulema is much more bloodthirsty than the secular governors (when such were separate). Generally the Franciscans, Dominicans, and all other Christian churchmen were far less bloodthirsty than the secular government.

Seems time to post this link, and a few highlights from it - https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/excellent.

Such as accomplished, admirable, distinguished, exceptional, magnificent, outstanding, superb, distinctive, estimable, notable, or peerless, to pick out 25% of the available and generally excellent entries at that link.

And at this point doesn't Kevin Lewis deserve to be upgraded to 'invaluable' for saving so much time?

'Religious freedom has become an emblematic value in the West.'

Well, for some people in the West. Plenty of people in Europe believe that religious freedom can be grudgingly granted to other Christians, and Judaism can be tolerated in an out of sight, out of mind fashion.

I do think that how much religious freedom is truly valued, and how robust that freedom will prove to be, is a critical question.

Religious freedom is founded on a contradiction: universal adherence to a first principle of pluralism. I'm not at all sure that will be tenable in the long run.

@dan1111: perhaps pluralism it's a contradiction, but the alternative of killing others is hard and disgusting work. What is easier, tolerate of kill?

You see the answer in the streets. Religious freedom is "grudgingly granted to others" as c_p puts it, but anyway granted. Pluralism doesn't has to be perfect, it just needs to work.

One of the other strange things I have learned in Europe is about how towns will often contain mainly one denomination, and that this has been true for centuries. An example being Lutheran villages in the Alsace, without there being quite the ethnic component you find in East European setting, where religion is just one factor.

However, France and Switzerland, along with the UK, tend to do a better job than many places. With the Swiss probably being the Europeans with the closest idea of American religious freedom, which probably goes along with the fact that Switzerland tends to have more cults and sects than the rest of Europe - as a fairly shallow observation concerning what most people consider fringe beliefs.

@Axa, but it doesn't always work. In lots of cases people have, sadly, chosen to kill (or otherwise oppress). Religious freedom exists in certain regions, but it's not a settled question that it will last forever.

"Plenty of people in Europe believe that religious freedom can be grudgingly granted to other Christians"

It is not "other Christians" who are going to be coming for you and yours, in your Mitteleuropan home.

I wonder, will Germany's growing Muslim constituency show the same tolerance for your enlightenment ideals as your Christian, Judaic, and Atheist countrymen? One would like to believe so, but the survey data says otherwise. As does the screaming.

The last big war in Europe was the Yugoslav one among Orthodox, Catholics and Muslims. All of them committed atrocities, but the Orthodox Serbs led the score in convicted war criminals.

Don't underestimate the conflict potential among Christians.

'It is not "other Christians" who are going to be coming for you and yours, in your Mitteleuropan home. '

Guess it depends on how you look at the Russians. I'm pretty sure that the Islamic Republic is more than a bit stretched in sending armored divisions and strike aircraft against Iraq.

As for Turkey, they actually seem to have less of a problem with NATO and Germany than my current president. Of course, calling Trump a Christian might be stretching things just a bit too far, but let us be charitable in a fashion he is demonstrably not, being the very stable genius that he is when insinuating that fellow Christian Obama is a Muslim.

'Germany's growing Muslim constituency show the same tolerance for your enlightenment ideals as your Christian, Judaic, and Atheist countrymen'

Considering recent German history, they will have work real hard to match the tolerance for Enlightenment ideals shown by the Nazis and DDR.

'As does the screaming.'

Yes, Pegida and the AfD can be a bunch of embarrassing screamers, cannot they? Particularly when chasing those they feel don't belong in Germany in city streets.

"Guess it depends on how you look at the Russians. I'm pretty sure that the Islamic Republic is more than a bit stretched in sending armored divisions and strike aircraft against Iraq. "

I fear the wolf inside the house more than the bandit on the road.

I like you, Prior; intelligent, educated, cultured....like a lot of Germans in the 1930s, I imagine. It's funny, really, how in fleeing from an error you repeat it. You do just the right level of dissimilation and wilful refusal to look at the evidence, just the right level of rationalising the fetters as they close about you.

You'll make a good Dhimmi.

"I like you, Prior; intelligent, educated, cultured....like a lot of Germans in the 1930s, I imagine."

Like the Conservatives who supported Hitler because the Communist wolves were inside? Or by the way, the British from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-German_Fellowship who hated the Labor wolf more than the teutonic bandits?

Let us be blunt: if Americans cared about terrorism, they would oppose Saudi Arabia's terorrist regime.

Red China and Russia are the real threat to world peace and civilization. They do not believe in coexistence, they believe in conquest.

Can't buy it in Australia... :-(

'how much religious freedom is truly valued, and how robust that freedom will prove to be, is a critical question'

Not having read the book, it is fairly obvious that religious freedom is an Enlightenment value, in part due to the truly vicious wars that arguably preceded that period (take Milton - part of the Enlightenment, or part of the civil and religious warfare that surrounded him during his life time?), and in part as a response to attempting to remove the main ostensible reason for those wars.

One of the more surprising things about living in Germany is to realize just how rare the American ideas of religious freedom are. It depends on the region and 'confession' (Konfession) of those with an opinion, but in Catholic Germany, toleration of Lutherans is a fairly new development (literally - maybe half the lifespan of the United States of America, and to a certain extent imposed by force by that famous hard leftist Bismarck).

France is 'secular' (not the best translation of the French term, which might also be translated as 'areligious'), but it is a deeply Catholic country apart from how the French government treats religion in 'neutral' fashion.

Many people have been opposed to the Enlightenment, and every age has its ending, but the seemingly growing modern attacks against such Enlightenment values as freedom of religion and speech is deeply disturbing, in part because those values arose out of a background of attempting to reduce sectarian and civil violence, and not increase it.

This modern trend could be considered 'accelerationism,' if such a word can be applied as a broad term covering a variety of opposed political beliefs, and ignoring any focus on capitalism per se. Basically, it is the classic revolutionary idea as explained by a media property formerly owned by a motorcycle group founder - 'It's the old "the worse, the better" ploy. In the pre-Bolshevik days, Vladimir Lenin supposedly said, “the worse, the better.” What he meant is that the worse things got, under the czar or during the chaos following the czar’s toppling, the greater the chance that ordinary Russians would turn to Lenin's brand of Marxist revolution.' https://www.forbes.com/sites/digitalrules/2008/12/26/the-worse-the-better/

But freedom of religion preceded the Enlightenment. Henry IV of France granted religious freedom to the minority Hugenots (1598), and various earlier kings had allowed periods of religious freedom as well. Even Ferdinand and Isabella allowed Jews and Muslims to practice their religion for a time, before revoking this freedom.

And of course many Muslim rulers allowed peoples of the book (Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians) to practice their religion.

One component of religious freedom is separation of church and state, which dates back to St. Ambrose.

"But freedom of religion preceded the Enlightenment." But was it ever sustained? Henri IV was followed eventually by the Revocation.

One trouble with history is the way that it may turn on a few particular cases. Would Roman Catholics have got a better deal earlier in England if their loopy terrorists hadn't attempted to blow up King, Lords, and Commons in the Gunpowder Plot?

Guy Fawkes didn't help, but Catholics were persecuted in England beginning in Elizabeth's reign, due to rebellions against her and a Papal Bull ordering them to depose her.

The Edict of Nantes (1598) was in force until the Edict of Fontainbleu (1685), which meant a run of 87 years of religious freedom in France. How long does religious freedom have to be sustained to count?

Religious freedom and religious pluralism are not the same. And I don't mean just different religions, such as Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, but sectarian differences within religions, as we have seen highlighted this past week between American Jews and Israeli Jews. Of course, there is the sectarian difference within Islam, Sunni and Shia, that has resulted in death and mayhem in the middle east. What people often overlook are sectarian differences within Christianity. Sure, there are differences between Catholics and Protestants, but what I am referring to are differences within Protestantism, a growing movement, led by independent evangelical churches, that view their version of the faith as the only true version, the only real Christians members of their congregation, the rest viewed as infidels, pagans, or worse. What many seek in this age of hatred and violence and despair is a longing for belonging, an attachment, connection, and solidarity with like-minded individuals. What this movement is breeding is sectarianism, a form of religious pluralism with hundred if not thousands of Christian sects. What religious freedom do pagans and infidels deserve? Religious freedom was well and good when most everyone believed that Christian and Jew prayed to the same God and read from the same Bible, that Catholic and Protestant prayed to the same Christ and read from the same New Testament scripture. Is religious freedom compatible with religious pluralism? Or are we headed to Rod Dreher's call for true believers to seek the Benedict Option?

Books like this are Funny Whig History; economic growth ergo tolerance. The authors imagine that things can only go the way them and their nice liberal friends think. Certainly people can't be convicted for "disparaging religious doctrines", anymore, can they?


As the laughably named "European Court of Human Rights" proves; We don't have Religious Tolerance in Europe today. Or Freedom of Speech, do we?

LOL, I was going to link that story to the comments. Freedom of Speech in the EU is regulated by law, whereas in the USA it's regulated by custom and in private. As they taught us in law school before I flunked out, in the USA your employer can ban your free speech and there's not much you can do about it. Likewise TC at any time can block you from posting here.

Freedom of Speech is freedom from the state restraint of speech. What you proclaim as "custom and private" restraint is merely an inevitable corollary of freedom of association.

Obviously, you can't force private individuals to listen to your nonsense. But private actors can't throw you in jail, fine you, or burn you at the stake.

That's a distinction that was obvious to thinking minds in the 17th century. It's really very simple. But apparently its a bit too difficult for sophisticates in the 21st who conflate a private refusal to take a cake order with state imprisonment and fines for insulting Mohammed.

But private actors can fire you. A lot of people would trade freedom of speech for a loaf of bread. BTW I agree with you and value freedom of speech as a sort of safety valve, but, as they teach you in American law school, it's the weakest of all the constitutional protections.

Where there's no freedom of association there's no freedom of speech because you might offend people you're forced to associate with. In the USA as well there's no freedom of association, hence no freedom of speech.

(This was supposed to be a reply to Alistair)

I have some sympathy for that position, as a logical point. From earliest hunter-gatherer times, we are "forced" by survival to associate with others chosen from a very limited set. So freedom of association has never been entirely free from such practical constraints. Perhaps only urban 19th/20th century westerners have ever approached it as more than an ideal.

But I really can't ascribe it "no freedom of association" to current US situation, no matter how egregious FB and Twitter censor our feeds. By any metrics, contemporary US places fewer practical restrictions on freedom of association than nearly all human civilisations that have every existed. Call me back if the social media situation continues to deteriorate.

I was thinking yesterday that back when Christianity was the super-dominant and speech-restricting Thing I would probably would have felt as oppressed by it as I feel by Progressivism today. But it occurred to me that while one could publicly affirm the Nicene Creed while privately understanding its theses in ways that might support one's own private mystical project -- and so evade a feeling of utter insincerity -- this isn't possible with regard to Progressivism, the stupidest, most soul-flattening religion ever conceived.

You are another guy who needs this:


If you ask me, Mercatus should not make Niskanen do all the heavy lifting.

You've posted that link at least 3 times. Your approaching clockwork_prior obsessiveness at this point.

But hey what do I know, I'm just a 'rat stuck in Putin's maze'. I've got to admit that line cracked me up. I might just change my handle to match.

... scurries off....

That was actually you? I figured it had to be the fake guy who didn't know Democrats or Republicans had those names.

On the anti-ideological front, I think it is worth at least three. There are many here who think anyone who is not their kind of Right is far Left. There are many here who have such an ideological framework that they think everyone else must have the same kind of commitment.

It wasn't here, but at another blog I can remember pragmatism itself attacked by the right-wing as lacking in ideological commitment.

It's interesting though, I kind of think that Tyler himself would be comfortable with Jerry's essay, but perhaps I shouldn't poke them about their broken family.

Since the rift have there been any links to Niskanen or the formerly excellent Will Wilkinson?

"I figured it had to be the fake guy who didn't know Democrats or Republicans had those names."

No, I knew, that was the point behind the post. That anybody can claim to be anything, so any measurement based off of a slogan is bound to be gamed.

"On the anti-ideological front, I think it is worth at least three. "

It's not a bad link, but by posting it 3 times you've devalued it's worth.

Not everyone lives by rat rules!

---chuckles from behind the wall ... scurries off....

I thank anonymous for posting the link, since I did not see it the first two times. As for the guy at the link, he's having a sort of "Saul on the road to Damascus" moment when he realizes you cannot be a libertarian and be for a strong patent system (actually he uses Global Warming as the example, but it's the same principle). What he fails to realize is that there are many forms of libertarianism, not just Somalia clan politics style libertarianism (but even that would be preferable to the Nanny State IMO).

That was good, Ray.

But I think the central Insight is much more General than pertaining to Libertarians alone.


There are probably a few Progressives who believe government expansion is useful in every circumstance, just as there are a few Libertarians as committed to reduction in all circumstance, but it is a big mistake to think that everyone who votes in a final election is making that kind of decision.

Most people would really rather just get something that works.

The ideologically committed have difficulty even seeing that.

+1, I wish the extremes and the ideologues would give it a rest. Thankfully they are mostly on the internet doing their thing, the people I meet in real life don't care about ideology much.

"This book treats the subject in an integrative way by combining economic reasoning with historical evidence from medieval and early modern Europe."

The sounds fine, but it looks to be an advanced book for scholars who can place it in a world religion context.

(American religious freedom grew out of that European experience, but must now embrace an even broader view.)

I once heard that any first edition book was about 10 years out of date on it's first printing -- time to research, write and then get published. Perhaps the modern processes have improved that time line.

In many areas that probably is not an issue.

Still, we seem to have been moving toward less toleration and more persecution and intolerance for 20 years now (or more). The title seems to miss that aspect of the world. Perhaps the message is about the history to getting at least words on paper about such toleration and freedoms historically. A more useful agenda might be how we're loosing that view -- individually, socially and politically.

What is the anti Don Quixote?

The religious freedom in the US doesn't extend to its current elemental and basic religion, the national franchise and democratic state. There seems to be little concern over spending an eternity being roasted over a bonfire by Satan's imps for what were once considered sins. Now the issues that earn no forgiveness are violations of legislative fiat, the consequences of which are financial ruin and incarceration. Religious freedom is a meaningless concept except in the worship of the American governmental trinity.

If I recall history correctly, the Puritans in New England made it punishable by death to house a Quaker under one's roof.

The Mormons have their sins at Mountain Meadows.

Jews in Kiryas Joel have allegedly persecuted non-Jews.

It seems that some of what we revere as fleeing persecution was just establishing the freedom to persecute others.

But fleeing persecution is what made Pennsylvania (Quakers) and Baltimore (Catholics) great! So you can argue that persecution has a silver lining.

To me it seems that for the most part the reigning government has used religion as an instrument to ensure loyalty. Every leader claims that God is on his side unlike those heretics following the other leader. Often, the differences that divide people seem pretty minor to an outsider; The core beliefs of Serbs and Croats look much the same to me. I wonder if the average Ulsterman or the average IRA man could tell you much about doctrine. Henry VIII would have continued to be a good Catholic if the Church hadn’t stood in the way of his goals. The reigning power exploits religion all over the world. As a result, official state, “established”, religion is the norm.

Yes, very true, Francis Fukuyama made the same points in some of his books. He further made a rather controversial but not unsound view that the nuclear family and birth control is a form of state oppression that works in favor of having a state. Orwell echoed this theme with his novel "1984" and the role of the 'proles' if you recall.

"Henry VIII would have continued to be a good Catholic if the Church hadn’t stood in the way of his goals." To begin with Henry VIII remained a "good Catholic", just not a Roman Catholic. You can tell he was a "good Catholic" - he burned Lutherans.

It is really disappointing that folks above are playing a game of "which religion is worse" rather than looking at historic examples of tolerance from around the world, or simply standing for tolerance today.

This is a good example of what msgkings criticized you for in another thread. "Rather than. . . standing for tolerance today." You argue with everyone here and say what are surely intentionally provocative things. Every single reader who does not respond to every single beef they might have with your posts is standing in tolerance today. They are not pointing at tolerace, they are being tolerant. You don't see it.

The religious freedom in the USW constitution is due as much that the other states did not want the New England Puritans to control the law.
Just as Quakers in Pennsylvanian, Catholics in Maryland, Reform Dutch in New York or Church of England in Virginia did not want any of the other states to impose their religion on them.

Remember, for the American Colonist the English Civil War between Catholics and Protestants was a very real influence on their thinking.

The American Revolution was simply a later battle in the English Civil War. American colonists were British subjects in remote locations that hadn't been recognized as constituencies. The revolution was a final and successful effort by the northeast Puritans and their descendants to throw off monarchy and pope-less Catholicism.

I find the book recommendations interesting and useful.

Another review of this forthcoming book was much more helpful in explaining its thesis.


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