Religious tolerance

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Religious toleration may signify "no more than forbearance and the permission given by the adherents of a dominant religion for other religions to exist, even though the latter are looked on with disapproval as inferior, mistaken, or harmful". Historically, most incidents and writings pertaining to toleration involve the status of minority and dissenting viewpoints in relation to a dominant state religion. However, religion is also sociological, and the practice of toleration has always had a political aspect as well.


  • If all enlightened men were, like us, to point out, in an impartial spirit, various defects found in different religions, it is not at all impossible that all quarrels should cease, that people should live together in peace all following one religion, and that truth should thus triumph.
    • Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883) Dayanand Saraswati, “The religion of Moslems,” Ch. 14 of 'The Light of Truth', Published by Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, 3/5, Maharishi Dayanand Bhawan, Ramlila Ground New Delhi – 110002.
  • We 'tolerate' those we consider not good enough, but we do not extend our respect to them. 'Tolerance' implies control over those who do not conform to our norms by allowing them some, though not all, of the rights and privileges we enjoy. A religion which involves the worship of 'false gods' and whose adherents are referred to as 'heathens' can be tolerated, but it cannot be respected. Tolerance is a patronizing posture, whereas respect implies that we consider the other to be equally legitimate – a position which some religions routinely deny to others, instead declaring these 'others' to be 'idol worshippers' or 'infidels' and the like.... Tolerance, in short, is an outright insult; it is simply not good enough. pointed out that this notion of tolerance had emerged from religions built on exclusivist claims according to which other religions are false. Hence, tolerating them is the best one can do without undermining one's own claim to exclusivity.
    Religious 'tolerance' was advocated in Europe after centuries of religious wars between adherents of the different denominations of Christianity. In many European countries, Churches functioned as religious monopolies according to which the mere practice of the 'wrong' religion was a criminal offence. 'Tolerance' was a positive attempt to quell the violence that had plagued Christianity for centuries in Europe, but it did not provide a genuine basis for real unity and cooperation, and so it often broke down.
  • Our watchword, then, will be acceptance, and not exclusion. Not only toleration, for so-called toleration is often blasphemy, and I do not believe in it. I believe in acceptance. Why should I tolerate? Toleration means that I think that you are wrong and I am just allowing you to live. Is it not a blasphemy to think that you and I are allowing others to live? I accept all religions that were in the past, and worship with them all; I worship God with every one of them, in whatever form they worship Him. I shall go to the mosque of the Mohammedan; I shall enter the Christian's church and kneel before the crucifix; I shall enter the Buddhistic temple, where I shall take refuge in Buddha and in his Law. I shall go into the forest and sit down in meditation with the Hindu, who is trying to see the Light which enlightens the heart of every one.
    • Vivekananda [1]
  • Not only shall I do all these, but I shall keep my heart open for all that may come in the future. Is God's book finished? Or is it still a continuous revelation going on? It is a marvellous book - these spiritual revelations of the world. The Bible, the Vedas, the Koran, and all other sacred books are but so many pages, and an infinite number of pages remain yet to be unfolded. I would leave it open for all of them. We stand in the present, but open ourselves to the infinite future. We take in all that has been in the past, enjoy the light of the present, and open every window of the heart for all that will come in the future. Salutation to all the prophets of the past, to all the great ones of the present, and to all that are to come in the future!
    • Vivekananda [2]
  • "I suppose a Hindu could never persecute." "He never yet has done so; he is the most tolerant of all the races of men. Considering how profoundly religious he is, one might have thought that he would persecute those who believe in no God. The Jains regard such belief as sheer delusion, yet no Jain has ever been persecuted. In India the Mohammedans were the first who ever took the sword."
    • (Vivekananda) [3]
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