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Toleration

churches, sense and england

TOLERATION, a word meaning in its general sense forebearance without approval, as when a state has an established church, but other churches are tolerated that is, their members are permitted to worship in their own way without interference on the part of the state. In this meaning toleration is different from the system of voluntary support of all churches without a state religion. It was much used in America, however, in a narrower, or Perhaps a broader, sense, during the struggle to Put an end to the compulsory support of Con gregational churches by the taxpayers in cer tam New England States, especially Connecti cut. Toleration is now universal in civilized countries, so far as permission to worship is concerned, but some restriction still exists as to bell-ringing by Roman Catholics in Sweden, and there is a certain degree of intolerance toward Protestants in sonic South American republics. Nowhere, however, in any country pretending to civilization is persecution on account of re ligious belief permitted by law.

In all ages enlightened minds have favored toleration. It was the rule among the ancient Greeks, and also among the Romans, until re ligion became so identified with state affairs that refusal to accept the state religion was treason to the government. Toleration was un known in practice during the Middle Ages, al though it had earnest advocates among Chris tians, Mohammedans and pagans. In modern times toleration has been a growth of the past three centuries. As late as the early part of the last century men were imprisoned in New England for refusing to pay taxes for mainte nance of the local church. England removed Roman Catholic disabilities in 1829, but did not admit Jews to Parliament until 1858. In a legal sense toleration is now coextensive with civili zation and semi-civilization, but education. only can make it effective by causing a fraternal and tolerant spirit to take the place of intoler ance and fanaticism, wherever the latter pre vail.