Religious Freedom or Tolerance?

An oft-neglected problem with secularism is its assumption that it is somehow the “default” position and therefore neutral religiously. It sees all religious positions as optional, unnatural, unnecessary, and therefore in the way of civil discourse and reasoned argument. Thus religious viewpoints must, a priori, be excluded from the Public Square. This is a dangerous position that fails to admit that secularism also answers so-called religious questions with answers that are no less religious than an answer that is traditionally labelled “religious.” The danger comes from the fact that secularism always assumes a privileged position of autonomous judgement over against all others; hence “tolerance” becomes the secular tolerating the religious while failing to see that it is itself, religious.

No thinking religious person is satisfied with tolerance, but seeks rather religious freedom. Tolerance is extended from a superior (the secular) to the inferior (the religious). Thus what is tolerated is always fluid and subject to the fiat of the zeitgeist, dictator, or proletariat. The current demand that separate schools in Ontario deny their religion in deference to inclusion is one of a number of examples. Secularism, always expansionist, sees tax dollars as a secular possession, education as a secular domain, children as wards of a secular state. Religion’s role and sphere must always reduce under tolerance; only freedom protects it.