Editorial: Religious Liberty Requires More Than Tolerance

April 6, 2004

Source: The Washington Post


On April 6, 2004 The Washington Post published an editorial responding to the current controversy over the "under God" clause in the pledge of allegiance, noting that the atheist challenge to God in the pledge clause has caused all religious people to consider their faiths more rigorously. The article notes, "All religious traditions interact with their times. Some reject the spirit of their times. Some are swallowed up. Most traditions survive by finding a balance between preserving their integrity and adjusting to new revelations. The Enlightenment waged war on the imposition of religion through force, and many religious traditions (notably, after some struggle, my own Catholic Church) eventually adapted to the lessons it had to teach. But the Jesuit theologian David Hollenbach puts an interesting twist on that adaptation. Religious liberty, he argues, must be rooted not merely in 'tolerance' but in what he calls 'intellectual solidarity.' Tolerance, he notes, is 'a strategy of noninterference with the beliefs and lifestyles of those who are different or 'other.' ' That is the classic Enlightenment view. Intellectual solidarity demands more, he says. It 'entails engagement with the other . . . in the hope that understanding might replace incomprehension and that perhaps even agreement could result.'"