Arturo posts an enlightening piece on the complicated nature of religious tolerance and religious identity. He writes:
I have always found the Vatican’s line of “soft confessionalism” in Europe a bit precious and not a little patronizing. On the one hand, it wants Catholicism to appear to be a kinder, gentler version of itself as opposed to l’Action Française or all of those horrible people before Vatican II who the flower children of the 1960’s rejected. On the other hand, it wants a State that looks nominally Catholic, where the clergy are still influential over daily life, where the Faith is a decaffeinated, “lite” revision of the old brand.
In some ways Protestantism has more ability to allow for religious plurality. By drawing a distinction between earthly and heavenly citizenship, the Reformation, at least in principle, allowed for a measure of religious tolerance. Jerome Zanchi once wrote:
But seing (to say something brieflie of the other duetie of a prince concerning religion) there be diverse kinds of mene which a prince may have under his government, namely either mere infidels, or such as indeede professe Christ, but yet are also open idolaters or in manie things apostates from the apostolicall church, or in some article of the faith manifest heretikes, or else erre upon simplicitie, or such as are rightly persuaded in all matters, we doe certainly hold that a prince ought not to use one kinde of measure towards all these sorts. For some of them are to be loved, cherished and honored; some to bee winked at; some not to be suffred; other to be quite cut off. And none must be permitted to blaspheme Christ or to worship idols or retaine ungodly ceremonies.
What is interesting is that a distinction is made between mild tolerance and an open-ended “anything goes” sort of establishment. Just as RCs need to reflect on the logical consistency of their own thought, Protestants need to think more about their own principles instead of too quickly settling for the modern status quo.
This might be a good time to check out Althusius’ Politica, which is now available online.