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2 Religious Truths and Human Coexistence

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Chapter Summary

Recalcitrant social customs, misidentified with religious truth have resulted in the prolonged toleration of slavery, the subordination of women, and the persecution of religious minorities. There exists a sphere of the natural in which values of human coexistence are to be realised that cannot be overridden by the special teachings of our religion and in which a person's freedom cannot be curtailed. This chapter gives three examples, each from a very different political environment, in order to show the development of a single broad tradition - what the author calls as the natural law/natural rights tradition. These examples are: formulation of Thomas Aquinas of natural rights in the Christian commonwealth, a Spanish missionary bishop's fight for natural rights of American Indians in the face of the Spanish conquest, and John Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration.

Keywords: Christian Commonwealth; human coexistence; John Locke; Letter Concerning Toleration; natural right; religious truths; Spanish missionary bishop; Thomas Aquinas



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