Toleration, Skepticism, and Blasphemy: John Locke, Jonas Proast, and Charlie Hebdo

JOHN WILLIAM TATE
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE (2016). ADVANCED ONLINE PUBLICATION. DOI: 10.1111/ajps.12245

Abstract: As the recent Charlie Hebdo, Copenhagen café, and Garland, Texas, shootings show, religion has recently reemerged as a source of violence within liberal democracies, particularly in those instances where cases of alleged blasphemy are involved. Although toleration arose, within the liberal tradition, as a means of dealing with such conflict, some individuals, possessed of devout religious belief, when confronted with beliefs or practices profoundly at odds with their faith, cannot conceive of toleration as a possibility. In such situations, the demand that these individuals tolerate that to which their faith is at odds is likely to run up against a more personal and, for its adherents, eternal agenda. This article considers a way in which those with devout religious beliefs might tolerate that which is profoundly at odds with their faith, thereby providing a means to avoid violent outcomes such as those in the “extreme cases” above.