The shrinking circle of religious tolerance

At the Acton Institute

This fits in with Max Weber’s observation that people are much more likely to trust people with religion – even one totally different to theirs – to atheists. Etymologically “religion” comes from the Latin “to bind,” and religious belief has almost universally played a central part in maintaining high levels of trust within groups. Trust, or social capital, is a vital ingredient for any healthy society or political system. Even highly secular, liberal groups, such as Canadian students, display distrust for atheists, in one study rating them as trustworthy as rapists.

And yet is not an exaggeration to say that we are going through perhaps the biggest cultural transformation since the fourth century, when Christianity went from being a minority faith of city people to becoming, at first the official religion, and then the only one. Its growth was almost certainly helped by its strong opposition to abortion and infanticide, which made it popular with women. To the last pagans, this sudden transformation in society’s norms was baffling and unsettling. That progressive secularism stems from Christianity and shares some of religion’s worst traits – among them intolerance and a belief that everyone, everywhere must share their worldview – is of course ironic. And it is this very dogmatism and lack of doubt that makes some of its true believers so frightening.

Read it all there

What do you think?

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