What someone else does or thinks doesn’t risk my soul – what I think does

Looking at the bridges from the Puritans to the American Enlightenment, I came upon this (probably read long ago by other Chicagoboyz). Internalizing (as much as universalizing) means a country of multiple religious beliefs can be tolerant without its citizens feeling that their souls are risked if this is the assumption. And proselytizing to save others’ souls will also be ones of arguments, examples, words rather than of intolerance. Of course, implicitly a religion with an external locus is less likely to be tolerant – nor feel toleration is good.

In the second place. The care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate, because his power consists only in outward force; but true and saving religion consists in the inward persuasion of the mind, without which nothing can be acceptable to God. And such is the nature of the understanding, that it cannot be compelled to the belief of anything by outward force. Confiscation of estate, imprisonment, torments, nothing of that nature can have any such efficacy as to make men change the inward judgment that they have framed of things.


1 thought on “What someone else does or thinks doesn’t risk my soul – what I think does”

  1. Ginny,

    Thank you for the quote. Of course religion and philosophy suffuse the American people. The question is how did we get the comity? I believe that a necessary condition was the absence of clans bumping up against one another. When fighting for survival rather than fighting your neighbors over territory you tend to regard strangers as potential friends rather than enemies.


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