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Locke maintained that each of us has the power to decide which
religious community to join, if any. He also maintained that no
religious community has doctrinal jurisdiction over any other, and
maintained that those communities and their members should tolerate the
existence of diverse communities with diverse doctrines. Finally, he
believed that no individual should be subject to civil prejudice or
penalty due to his or her religious convictions and that religious
authorities should have no special civil powers or authorities.
Locke also believed that governments do not have — and cannot be
given by the consent of the people — the right to force its members to
hold specific religious beliefs or to engage in specific religious
Please discuss Locke’s conception of religious toleration and the
separation of church and state in an essay that answers the following
- Do you find Locke’s expansive vision of toleration useful and ethical? Why or why not?
- Do you believe that there are ever cases where it is acceptable
for a society to decide not to tolerate religious communities whose
beliefs or practices seem ‘too extreme’ to be tolerated. If so, what
considerations or principles can help one to determine exactly which
religious communities should be treated as intolerable?
- Do you believe that it is ever acceptable for individuals’
religious beliefs to affect the administration of law? Why or why not?
Please ensure that your essay addresses each component of the
assigned questions and that your answer is well-organized, uses
excellent, college-level prose, and makes judicious use of textual
evidence. Your essay should be 600-900 words long.