We live in a nation constituted as a free society. One in which we hold dear our liberty. Of course, we also are not libertine. We recognize ourselves as a nation of laws. We concede that our liberty cannot be at the expense of another's liberty. We are free, but we are not free to rape, murder or steal. Put simply, we live under ordered liberty.
Herein lies the debate, where then is the edge of tolerance? At what point does tolerance deny liberty?
I must stop here, before we get to far, and state that the impetus for this article is, what has been dubbed, the 9/11 Mosque and the reaction to it. Many have objected to the Mosque, an objection to which I agree. Those objecting were immediately painted as bigots and have had the 1st Amendment shoved down their throat by those who tomorrow will imply Christians are just like the Nazi's. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
I firmly believe in religious tolerance, I believe in the right to free religious expression, and I also believe in a "wall of separation between Church and State". It is my contention that the purveyors of the 9/11 Mosque and the mosque itself violate all three of these principles, in action and thought, through their embrace of Sharia, Dhimmi, and Jihad.
Long before Jefferson made the "wall of separation" famous in his letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, John Locke had already addressed the issue in his first of four letters concerning tolerance in 1685. Locke spoke of the Church authority and the Civil authority and the natural limitations on both. In Locke's view and, in my opinion, the view of the founders, there were two evils that could come from these two separate authorities; The State run Church, and the Church run State. Neither the former nor the latter are compatible with a free society such as ours. This required Locke, and later the founders, to define roles for these two entities.
The Church authority as Locke sees it, extends only to those who voluntarily make themselves part of that Church. Additionally the Church is only bound to tolerate what it deems fit as long as it is limited to its membership. The Civil authority, by contrast, "which consists of prescribing laws and compelling by punishment" for the entirety of the people is limited in it's treatment to the protection of religion as a right, by it's inability to provide for the salvation of souls itself it can do nothing else. Both entities knowing their place, a balance is struck and tolerance may be maintained.
As long as no action is taken, by either party, which goes beyond it's natural authority this may go on. Action, having been taken by the one, will invariably be taken by the other to restore the balance. This, to me, appears to be missed in modern tellings of Jefferson's letter on the subject. To wit:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
The government can only respond to action, and in response it acts to restore the natural rights of man.
Sharia, Dhimmi and Jihad all go beyond the Church authority. All are actions. And all should be resisted in a free society. If need be, this resistance must come from the civil authority in order to restore the natural rights of man. Many will craft fancy arguments and deny that these doctrines are making there way into America. To them I would point out Dearborn, Michigan where Christians were arrested for handing out tracts to Muslims. Sharia doesn't allow for the conversion of Muslims or the preaching of the Gospel to them. I could also point to the inspiration of this article, the 9/11 Mosque. Funded by foreign entities, rumored to be tied to terrorist organizations, the building of this mosque is an act of Dhimmi. This is an outward portrayal of dominance over America and it's people. An act in direct contravention to a free society of freemen. And if all that fails I will point to the Ft. Hood shooter or better yet, the gaping hole that exists where the World Trade Center once did. Jihad. Bloody, hateful, Jihad.
Is toleration to be extended to those sects which would follow such practices? Is religious tolerance a suicide pact which requires us to allow doctrines that put the people under the rule of foreign laws not agreed upon?
I believe Locke provided us with the answer in two seemingly conflicted thoughts:
Nay, if we may openly speak the truth, and as becomes one man to another, neither pagan, nor mahometan, nor jew, ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth, because of his religion.
That church can have no right to be tolerated by the magistrate, which is constituted upon such a bottom, that all those who enter into it, do thereby ipso facto deliver themselves up to the protection and service of another prince. For by this means the magistrate would give way to the settling of a foreign jurisdiction in his own country, and suffer his own people to be listed, as it were, for soldiers against his own government. Nor does the frivolous and fallacious distinction between the court and the church afford any remedy to this inconvenience; especially when both the one and the other are equally subject to the absolute authority of the same person; who has not only power to persuade the members of his church to whatsoever he lists, either as purely religious, or as in order thereunto; but can also enjoin it them on pain of eternal fire. It is ridiculous for any one to profess himself to be a mahometan only in religion, but in every thing else a faithful subject to a christian magistrate, whilst at the same time he acknowledges himself bound to yield blind obedience to the mufti of Constantinople; who himself is entirely obedient to the Ottoman emperor, and frames the feigned oracles of that religion according to his pleasure.
This is the edge of tolerance