Talk:A Letter Concerning Toleration

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Read the editor's introduction to the edition of Locke's Letter on Toleration (Nijhoff 1963). It has satisfied me, and I should think it would satisfy anyone, that the probability that Locke wrote this as a letter to Limborch or to anyone else is about zero.

Jonathan Bennett Jfbennett (talk) 02:34, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Anti-Catholicism[edit]

User:Thepointofit keeps removing Locke's intolerance towards Catholics. Some sources:

“…the most famous (or notorious) example is the Letter’s exclusion of Catholics from toleration on the grounds that, having an external allegiance (to Rome), they are not trustworthy citizens.”—Richard Vernon (ed.), Locke on Toleration (Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. xiii.

“He was also a defender of toleration, though like Locke he was not prepared to extend it to Catholics.”—J. R. Milton and Philip Milton (eds.), John Locke: An Essay concerning Toleration: And Other Writings on Law and Politics, 1667-1683 (Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 25.

“This looks like a general principle, but the context makes it clear that Locke saw it as applying only to Protestant dissenters; the passages in the earlier versions ruling out toleration for Catholics were not only retained but strengthened.”—J. R. Milton and Philip Milton (eds.), John Locke: An Essay concerning Toleration: And Other Writings on Law and Politics, 1667-1683 (Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 45.

“If Locke’s reasons for insisting on religious tolerance were distinctively religious reasons (and reasons which led him to withhold toleration both from Catholics and from atheists)…”—John Dunn, Locke: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 21.

“Locke affirms that the citizens of a certain commonwealth cannot obey two sovereigns at the same time and concludes that the Catholic religion, as far as it implies the temporal subordination of the believers to a temporal sovereign, the pope, cannot be tolerated, except in the papal State itself, without endangering the conservation of any commonwealth, since it creates a permanent factor of disobedience and disorder.”—Raymond Polin, ‘John Locke’s conception of freedom’, in John W. Yolton (ed.), John Locke: Problems and Perspectives: A Collection of New Essays (Cambridge University Press, 1969), p. 16.

These are reliable sources, printed by the Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press.--Britannicus (talk) 13:33, 25 May 2015 (UTC)

Britannicus[edit]

User Britannicus is perpetuating bigotry and an unpious and unscholarly interpretation of Locke's views on religious toleration. In his Letter Locke has stated clearly that toleration should be extended to Roman Catholics. The quotes that Britannicus has supplied are simply the unsubstantiated views of those particular authors, which reveals that even bigots can be published, and do not reflect the views of Locke. For those who are in still in doubt about Locke's view on Catholocism I recommend reading the Letter itself, which is quite clear and does not need to be "interpreted." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thepointofit (talkcontribs) 14:08, 25 May 2015 (UTC)

The above sources clearly indicate that the scholarly consensus is that Locke opposed extending toleration to Catholics. Locke was not a modern liberal but a seventeenth century Whig with a deep aversion to "popery" and "papists" (his words). This is what reliable, scholarly sources claim and it is Wikipedia's duty to reflect that. Your own personal (incorrect) views are irrelevant.--Britannicus (talk) 14:26, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
The duty of everyone, including scholars, is not to ascribe their own intolerant religious views to other people, including dead people who can no longer advise us all to be more mature and compassionate toward others except by the writings they have given us already.Thepointofit (talk) 14:46, 25 May 2015 (UTC)

Here are some quotes from the Letter that show Locke's toleration of Catholicism:

"Further, the magistrate ought not to forbid the preaching or professing of any speculative opinions in any Church because they have no manner of relation to the civil rights of the subjects. If a Roman Catholic believe that to be really the body of Christ which another man calls bread, he does no injury thereby to his neighbour. If a Jew do not believe the New Testament to be the Word of God, he does not thereby alter anything in men's civil rights. If a heathen doubt of both Testaments, he is not therefore to be punished as a pernicious citizen. The power of the magistrate and the estates of the people may be equally secure whether any man believe these things or no. I readily grant that these opinions are false and absurd. But the business of laws is not to provide for the truth of opinions, but for the safety and security of the commonwealth and of every particular man's goods and person. And so it ought to be. For the truth certainly would do well enough if she were once left to shift for herself. She seldom has received and, I fear, never will receive much assistance from the power of great men, to whom she is but rarely known and more rarely welcome. She is not taught by laws, nor has she any need of force to procure her entrance into the minds of men. Errors, indeed, prevail by the assistance of foreign and borrowed succours. But if Truth makes not her way into the understanding by her own light, she will be but the weaker for any borrowed force violence can add to her. Thus much for speculative opinions. Let us now proceed to practical ones."

"That we may draw towards a conclusion. The sum of all we drive at is that every man may enjoy the same rights that are granted to others. Is it permitted to worship God in the Roman manner? Let it be permitted to do it in the Geneva form also. Is it permitted to speak Latin in the market-place? Let those that have a mind to it be permitted to do it also in the Church. Is it lawful for any man in his own house to kneel, stand, sit, or use any other posture; and to clothe himself in white or black, in short or in long garments? Let it not be made unlawful to eat bread, drink wine, or wash with water in the church. In a word, whatsoever things are left free by law in the common occasions of life, let them remain free unto every Church in divine worship. Let no man's life, or body, or house, or estate, suffer any manner of prejudice upon these accounts. Can you allow of the Presbyterian discipline? Why should not the Episcopal also have what they like? Ecclesiastical authority, whether it be administered by the hands of a single person or many, is everywhere the same; and neither has any jurisdiction in things civil, nor any manner of power of compulsion, nor anything at all to do with riches and revenues."

"We have already proved that the care of souls does not belong to the magistrate. Not a magisterial care, I mean (if I may so call it), which consists in prescribing by laws and compelling by punishments. But a charitable care, which consists in teaching, admonishing, and persuading, cannot be denied unto any man. The care, therefore, of every man's soul belongs unto himself and is to be left unto himself. But what if he neglect the care of his soul? I answer: What if he neglect the care of his health or of his estate, which things are nearlier related to the government of the magistrate than the other? Will the magistrate provide by an express law that such a one shall not become poor or sick? Laws provide, as much as is possible, that the goods and health of subjects be not injured by the fraud and violence of others; they do not guard them from the negligence or ill-husbandry of the possessors themselves. No man can be forced to be rich or healthful whether he will or no. Nay, God Himself will not save men against their wills. Let us suppose, however, that some prince were desirous to force his subjects to accumulate riches, or to preserve the health and strength of their bodies. Shall it be provided by law that they must consult none but Roman physicians, and shall everyone be bound to live according to their prescriptions? What, shall no potion, no broth, be taken, but what is prepared either in the Vatican, suppose, or in a Geneva shop? Or, to make these subjects rich, shall they all be obliged by law to become merchants or musicians? Or, shall everyone turn victualler, or smith, because there are some that maintain their families plentifully and grow rich in those professions? But, it may be said, there are a thousand ways to wealth, but one only way to heaven. It is well said, indeed, especially by those that plead for compelling men into this or the other way. For if there were several ways that led thither, there would not be so much as a pretence left for compulsion. But now, if I be marching on with my utmost vigour in that way which, according to the sacred geography, leads straight to Jerusalem, why am I beaten and ill-used by others because, perhaps, I wear not buskins; because my hair is not of the right cut; because, perhaps, I have not been dipped in the right fashion; because I eat flesh upon the road, or some other food which agrees with my stomach; because I avoid certain by-ways, which seem unto me to lead into briars or precipices; because, amongst the several paths that are in the same road, I choose that to walk in which seems to be the straightest and cleanest; because I avoid to keep company with some travellers that are less grave and others that are more sour than they ought to be; or, in fine, because I follow a guide that either is, or is not, clothed in white, or crowned with a mitre? Certainly, if we consider right, we shall find that, for the most part, they are such frivolous things as these that (without any prejudice to religion or the salvation of souls, if not accompanied with superstition or hypocrisy) might either be observed or omitted. I say they are such-like things as these which breed implacable enmities amongst Christian brethren, who are all agreed in the substantial and truly fundamental part of religion."

"If any man may lawfully take bread or wine, either sitting or kneeling in his own house, the law ought not to abridge him of the same liberty in his religious worship; though in the Church the use of bread and wine be very different and be there applied to the mysteries of faith and rites of Divine worship."

"Let it not be made unlawful to eat bread, drink wine, or wash with water in the church. In a word, whatsoever things are left free by law in the common occasions of life, let them remain free unto every Church in divine worship. "

"For there is no civil injury done unto the excommunicated person by the church minister's refusing him that bread and wine, in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, which was not bought with his but other men's money."

"The sprinkling of water and the use of bread and wine are both in their own nature and in the ordinary occasions of life altogether indifferent."

Thepointofit (talk) 16:08, 25 May 2015 (UTC)

RfC: Did Locke exclude Catholics from toleration in his Letter Concerning Toleration?[edit]

(non-admin closure) Wikipedia is not the place to interpret information. Policy requires that the information included on Wikipedia is backed up by reliable sources, Wikipedia is not a reliable source. If reliable sources support a certain interpretation of something, the article should reflect that interpretation. PHANTOMTECH (talk) 05:06, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Did John Locke argue against tolerating Catholics in his A Letter Concerning Toleration? Britannicus (talk) 14:58, 25 May 2015 (UTC)

In Locke's own words:

"Further, the magistrate ought not to forbid the preaching or professing of any speculative opinions in any Church because they have no manner of relation to the civil rights of the subjects. If a Roman Catholic believe that to be really the body of Christ which another man calls bread, he does no injury thereby to his neighbour. If a Jew do not believe the New Testament to be the Word of God, he does not thereby alter anything in men's civil rights. If a heathen doubt of both Testaments, he is not therefore to be punished as a pernicious citizen. The power of the magistrate and the estates of the people may be equally secure whether any man believe these things or no. I readily grant that these opinions are false and absurd. But the business of laws is not to provide for the truth of opinions, but for the safety and security of the commonwealth and of every particular man's goods and person. And so it ought to be. For the truth certainly would do well enough if she were once left to shift for herself. She seldom has received and, I fear, never will receive much assistance from the power of great men, to whom she is but rarely known and more rarely welcome. She is not taught by laws, nor has she any need of force to procure her entrance into the minds of men. Errors, indeed, prevail by the assistance of foreign and borrowed succours. But if Truth makes not her way into the understanding by her own light, she will be but the weaker for any borrowed force violence can add to her. Thus much for speculative opinions. Let us now proceed to practical ones."

"That we may draw towards a conclusion. The sum of all we drive at is that every man may enjoy the same rights that are granted to others. Is it permitted to worship God in the Roman manner? Let it be permitted to do it in the Geneva form also. Is it permitted to speak Latin in the market-place? Let those that have a mind to it be permitted to do it also in the Church. Is it lawful for any man in his own house to kneel, stand, sit, or use any other posture; and to clothe himself in white or black, in short or in long garments? Let it not be made unlawful to eat bread, drink wine, or wash with water in the church. In a word, whatsoever things are left free by law in the common occasions of life, let them remain free unto every Church in divine worship. Let no man's life, or body, or house, or estate, suffer any manner of prejudice upon these accounts. Can you allow of the Presbyterian discipline? Why should not the Episcopal also have what they like? Ecclesiastical authority, whether it be administered by the hands of a single person or many, is everywhere the same; and neither has any jurisdiction in things civil, nor any manner of power of compulsion, nor anything at all to do with riches and revenues."

"We have already proved that the care of souls does not belong to the magistrate. Not a magisterial care, I mean (if I may so call it), which consists in prescribing by laws and compelling by punishments. But a charitable care, which consists in teaching, admonishing, and persuading, cannot be denied unto any man. The care, therefore, of every man's soul belongs unto himself and is to be left unto himself. But what if he neglect the care of his soul? I answer: What if he neglect the care of his health or of his estate, which things are nearlier related to the government of the magistrate than the other? Will the magistrate provide by an express law that such a one shall not become poor or sick? Laws provide, as much as is possible, that the goods and health of subjects be not injured by the fraud and violence of others; they do not guard them from the negligence or ill-husbandry of the possessors themselves. No man can be forced to be rich or healthful whether he will or no. Nay, God Himself will not save men against their wills. Let us suppose, however, that some prince were desirous to force his subjects to accumulate riches, or to preserve the health and strength of their bodies. Shall it be provided by law that they must consult none but Roman physicians, and shall everyone be bound to live according to their prescriptions? What, shall no potion, no broth, be taken, but what is prepared either in the Vatican, suppose, or in a Geneva shop? Or, to make these subjects rich, shall they all be obliged by law to become merchants or musicians? Or, shall everyone turn victualler, or smith, because there are some that maintain their families plentifully and grow rich in those professions? But, it may be said, there are a thousand ways to wealth, but one only way to heaven. It is well said, indeed, especially by those that plead for compelling men into this or the other way. For if there were several ways that led thither, there would not be so much as a pretence left for compulsion. But now, if I be marching on with my utmost vigour in that way which, according to the sacred geography, leads straight to Jerusalem, why am I beaten and ill-used by others because, perhaps, I wear not buskins; because my hair is not of the right cut; because, perhaps, I have not been dipped in the right fashion; because I eat flesh upon the road, or some other food which agrees with my stomach; because I avoid certain by-ways, which seem unto me to lead into briars or precipices; because, amongst the several paths that are in the same road, I choose that to walk in which seems to be the straightest and cleanest; because I avoid to keep company with some travellers that are less grave and others that are more sour than they ought to be; or, in fine, because I follow a guide that either is, or is not, clothed in white, or crowned with a mitre? Certainly, if we consider right, we shall find that, for the most part, they are such frivolous things as these that (without any prejudice to religion or the salvation of souls, if not accompanied with superstition or hypocrisy) might either be observed or omitted. I say they are such-like things as these which breed implacable enmities amongst Christian brethren, who are all agreed in the substantial and truly fundamental part of religion."

"If any man may lawfully take bread or wine, either sitting or kneeling in his own house, the law ought not to abridge him of the same liberty in his religious worship; though in the Church the use of bread and wine be very different and be there applied to the mysteries of faith and rites of Divine worship."

"Let it not be made unlawful to eat bread, drink wine, or wash with water in the church. In a word, whatsoever things are left free by law in the common occasions of life, let them remain free unto every Church in divine worship. "

"For there is no civil injury done unto the excommunicated person by the church minister's refusing him that bread and wine, in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, which was not bought with his but other men's money."

"The sprinkling of water and the use of bread and wine are both in their own nature and in the ordinary occasions of life altogether indifferent." Thepointofit (talk) 16:02, 25 May 2015 (UTC)

Locke:

Another more secret evil, but more dangerous to the commonwealth, is when men arrogate to themselves, and to those of their own sect, some peculiar prerogative covered over with a specious show of deceitful words, but in effect opposite to the civil right of the community. For example: we cannot find any sect that teaches, expressly and openly, that men are not obliged to keep their promise; that princes may be dethroned by those that differ from them in religion; or that the dominion of all things belongs only to themselves. For these things, proposed thus nakedly and plainly, would soon draw on them the eye and hand of the magistrate and awaken all the care of the commonwealth to a watchfulness against the spreading of so dangerous an evil. But, nevertheless, we find those that say the same things in other words. What else do they mean who teach that faith is not to be kept with heretics? Their meaning, forsooth, is that the privilege of breaking faith belongs unto themselves; for they declare all that are not of their communion to be heretics, or at least may declare them so whensoever they think fit. What can be the meaning of their asserting that kings excommunicated forfeit their crowns and kingdoms? It is evident that they thereby arrogate unto themselves the power of deposing kings, because they challenge the power of excommunication, as the peculiar right of their hierarchy. That dominion is founded in grace is also an assertion by which those that maintain it do plainly lay claim to the possession of all things. For they are not so wanting to themselves as not to believe, or at least as not to profess themselves to be the truly pious and faithful. These, therefore, and the like, who attribute unto the faithful, religious, and orthodox, that is, in plain terms, unto themselves, any peculiar privilege or power above other mortals, in civil concernments; or who upon pretence of religion do challenge any manner of authority over such as are not associated with them in their ecclesiastical communion, I say these have no right to be tolerated by the magistrate; as neither those that will not own and teach the duty of tolerating all men in matters of mere religion. For what do all these and the like doctrines signify, but that they may and are ready upon any occasion to seize the Government and possess themselves of the estates and fortunes of their fellow subjects; and that they only ask leave to be tolerated by the magistrate so long until they find themselves strong enough to effect it?

Again: 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 in order thereunto, but can also enjoin it them on pain of eternal fire.

Commentary by scholars:

Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration was written in winter 1685 in a country, the Netherlands, in which Catholics were tolerated in practice in private worship but legally denied toleration and actually as well as legally denied office. It was written during a winter in which local regents, such as those in Leiden, had already started to expel Jesuits. It was probably written within weeks of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, after huge influxes of Protestant refugees to the Netherlands, and during a period of publicity about violence against Huguenots which identified such violence as based in part on the principle that faith did not need to be kept with heretics. It was written before James II had yet moved to tolerate Protestant dissenters and open office to Catholics. In the Letter, Locke argued that there was no right to toleration for those who held that ‘faith is not to be kept with heretics’, for those who held that ‘kings excommunicated forfeit their crowns and kingdoms’, and for those who would not teach toleration, as these and similar doctrines showed that they were ready ‘to seise the government, and possess themselves of the estates and fortunes of their fellow-subjects’ when they were able to do so. For Locke, there was no right to toleration for a church 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’. The Pope was the obvious such ‘foreign prince’, and Locke’s disparaging reference to the ‘frivolous and fallacious distinction between the court and the church’ underlined that his reference was to Roman Catholicism.23 [23: Locke, Letter in Works, 45-7; cf. idem, Letter, ed. Klibansky and Gough, 130-3, and notes 55 and 56, including on the support of various Catholics for deposition by papal excommunication.] These comments have usually been taken, both by Locke’s near contemporaries, and by many but not all scholars since, as showing that Locke simply excluded all Catholics from toleration. A century later, Locke was to be criticised by Joseph Priestley for denying toleration to Catholics…Many others who cited and published Locke’s Letters Concerning Toleration in the eighteenth century…saw Locke’s principles in the Letter as supportive of their own campaigns to deny toleration to Catholics on political grounds. Even Catholics arguing for toleration on the grounds that Catholics did not hold the alleged beliefs, such as the late eighteenth-century Benedictine Joseph Wilks, understood Locke’s arguments as having been intended to deny toleration to Catholics on political grounds…The identification in the Letter of those who held that faith does not need to be kept with heretics as intolerable would have been understood by any contemporary audience as directed at many contemporary Catholics…Locke’s denial of toleration on this ground would thus have been read in its immediate context as denying toleration especially to many Catholic priests, and potentially also to many lay Catholics…The combination of Locke’s comments in the Letter suggest that during composition of the Letter in winter 1685, Locke was once again struggling over how to discriminate between the series of associated political principles which for him made Catholics intolerable, and the religious worship and other religious beliefs of Catholic which deserved toleration. It seems probable that in writing the Letter Locke thought that at least some Catholics in England and the Netherlands were politically as well as religiously tolerable, as they did not hold that faith did not have to be kept with heretics, nor that excommunicated kings were deposed, and were themselves tolerant, and yet at the same time thought that very many Catholics, especially but not merely Jesuits, were indeed intolerable, and wishes to register both of these propositions in the Letter."—John Marshall, John Locke, Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 690-693.

…the most famous (or notorious) example is the Letter’s exclusion of Catholics from toleration on the grounds that, having an external allegiance (to Rome), they are not trustworthy citizens.—Richard Vernon (ed.), Locke on Toleration (Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. xiii.

Locke affirms that the citizens of a certain commonwealth cannot obey two sovereigns at the same time and concludes that the Catholic religion, as far as it implies the temporal subordination of the believers to a temporal sovereign, the pope, cannot be tolerated, except in the papal State itself, without endangering the conservation of any commonwealth, since it creates a permanent factor of disobedience and disorder.—Raymond Polin, ‘John Locke’s conception of freedom’, in John W. Yolton (ed.), John Locke: Problems and Perspectives: A Collection of New Essays (Cambridge University Press, 1969), p. 16.

Notoriously, in the Letter on Toleration (Epistola de Tolerantia), Locke argues that atheists and Roman Catholics should be excluded from toleration—the former because they cannot be trusted to keep promises, the latter because they owe allegiance to a foreign power.—Nicholas Jolley, Locke: His Philosophical Thought (Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 12.

No sect or church would deny the obligation to keep promises, or hold that a government might be overthrown if it is not of the right religion, but these things are in effect said by those that teach “that faith is not be kept with heretics”, and that “kings excommunicated forfeit their crowns and kingdoms”. Equally, a state should not tolerate a church where membership involves allegiance to another earthly power, for then it would be allowing “a foreign jurisdiction in [its] own country”. What Locke had in mind in these cases was Roman Catholicism; but this was not the only group to whom religious toleration was to be denied…—Roger Woolhouse, Locke: A Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 233.

A second main limitation of Locke’s theory is the well-known equivocation in relation to Catholics. In broad terms, as an acknowledged confession with a defined form of worship, there ought to be no difficulty about extending toleration to Catholics and Episocpius – and at a later stage also Uyttenbogaert – do so explicitly. But in Locke this is left in doubt. For the magistrate in the Epistola does not have to tolerate churches which claim an authority which can be said to undermine civil peace and the sovereignty of the state, as do the Catholics who claim that the Pope can dispense them from oaths of allegiance, depose rulers, and release them from keeping faith with, and oaths to, ‘heretics’. The tendency in Locke is clearly to deny toleration to Catholics.—Jonathan I. Israel, ‘Spinoza, Locke and the Enlightenment Battle for Toleration’, in Ole Peter Grell and Roy Poter (eds.), Toleration in Enlightenment Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 103-104.

For Locke, the only ground for non-toleration was the holding of an opinion inherently subversive of civil society. Transubstantiation, he thought, was absurd, and the use of Latin obscurantist, but these were not civilly disruptive and it was not the task of civil society to educate men out of their superstitions. Catholics were reputed to hold two subversive doctrines: the Jesuitical notion that promises need not be kept with heretics, and the doctrine of the Pope’s deposing power. Both were incessantly repudiated in English Catholic polemic, which was almost wholly anti-Papal, anti-Jesuit, and tinged with Jansenism. The Protestant response to these denials was that it was a polemical ruse and that the Pope’s temporal politics could not so easily be divorced from the spiritual teaching of Catholicism. Or, as Locke put it, in a familiar contemporary phrase, the distinction between the ‘Court and Church’ of Rome was ‘frivolous and fallacious’. Yet if Catholics were convincingly to deny these two doctrines, then there could be no bar to their toleration.—Mark Goldie, ‘Locke and Anglican Royalism’, Political Studies (1983), XXXI, p. 84.

Locke’s Epistola, famously, equivocated on the question of whether Catholics should be accorded freedom of worship in Protestant domains. The philosopher argued that the theology of Catholics was no grounds to exclude them from toleration but that their politics might be. He wrote…[quotes Locke on not tolerating those who obey foreign princes]…This was a common argument used in England against the toleration of Catholics, on the grounds that they paid allegiance to a foreign prince, the pope in Rome. Locke also contended that no one should be tolerated who did not believe in tolerating others or who held the principles, often associated with Catholicism by Protestants at the time, that “Faith is not to be kept with Hereticks” or that “Kings excommunicated forfeit their Crowns and Kingdoms.” Locke’s argument did leave open the possibility of toleration for some Catholics. A Catholic who adopted tolerant principles and disavowed any political allegiance to the pope could be tolerated. But many English Protestants believed that Catholics such as this did not exist. The Epistola de Tolerantia accommodated itself to the widespread desire of many in England to exclude Catholics from toleration, a desire also reflected in the provisions of the Act of Toleration. Locke’s philosophical acumen did not prevent him from adopting anti-popish ideas and themes. In his unpublished Essay Concerning Toleration of 1667-1668, he described papists as “irreconcilable enemys of whose fidelity you can never be secur[e]d, whilst they owe a blinde obedience to an infal[l]ible pope.” Because of their political principles, he averred, “I thinke they ought not to enjoy the benefit of toleration.” In a treatise written in the early 1680s, Locke excoriated Catholics as the “common Enemy” of Protestants and urged his co-religionists to guard against their schemes…—Scott Sowerby, Making Toleration: The Repealers and the Glorious Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 256-257.

John Locke argued that the Catholics should not be allowed toleration as they were primarily subjects of the pope rather than of the civil state.75 [75 J. Locke, Epistola de Tolerantia/A Letter on Toleration, ed. R. Klibansky and J. W. Gough (Oxford, 1968), pp. 131-5.]—John Miller, Popery and Politics in England 1660-1688 (Cambridge University Press, 1973), p. 88.

But even Locke insisted upon the maintenance of a Christian community, and he would have excluded from membership Roman Catholics (because they retained allegiance to a foreign authority, the pope) and atheists.—Gordon J. Schochet, 'From Persecution to "Toleration"' in J. R. Jones (ed.), Liberty Secured? Britain Before and After 1688 (Stanford University Press, 1992), p. 127.

...his arguments would not extend to toleration to Catholics, on the grounds that they owed allegiance to a foreign power, the Pope, and were therefore a threat to civil order.—Susan Mendus and John Horton, ‘Locke and Toleration’, in John Horton and Susan Mendus (eds.), John Locke's A Letter on Toleration in Focus (Routledge, 1991), p. 2.

Locke never ceased to think it unsafe to extend toleration to Roman Catholics (whom he bracketed with atheists), because Roman Catholics not only taught that faith need not be kept with heretics, but owed allegiance to a foreign potentate who pretended that kings forfeited their crowns if he excommunicated them. For Locke the essential question was thus a political one.—J. W. Gough, ‘The Development of Locke’s Belief in Toleration’, in John Horton and Susan Mendus (eds.), John Locke's A Letter on Toleration in Focus (Routledge, 1991), p. 60.

The same considerations, however, Locke refused to apply to the Roman Catholics. Their opinions, he claimed, were ‘destructive of all governments except the Pope’s’. Roman Catholics should not be allowed to congregate or to publish because they constituted a threat to the peace, safety and security of the kingdom...Without referring directly to Catholics, Locke set these two last categories down so as to be able to justify withholding toleration from Catholics.—Maurice Cranston, ‘John Locke and the Case for Toleration’, in John Horton and Susan Mendus (eds.), John Locke's A Letter on Toleration in Focus (Routledge, 1991), p. 81, p. 85.

...even in the Letter on Toleration Locke indicated that he was disposed to exclude Catholics, as he excluded atheists, from the scope of the toleration that he was arguing for…[this] had to do mainly with his suspicion that members of both classes would make bad citizens.—Jeremy Waldron, ‘Locke: Toleration and the Rationality of Persecution’, in John Horton and Susan Mendus (eds.), John Locke's A Letter on Toleration in Focus (Routledge, 1991), p. 109.

--Britannicus (talk) 17:23, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
Britannicus, in your direct quotes from Locke's 'Letter' Locke does NOT specifically mention the Catholic Church. You have to infer that he is implying the Catholic Church.
When I read that first quote I understood Locke to be saying that it would be wrong for any Church to espouse the view that princes can be dethroned because of their religious beliefs. Also, It seems to me that the word "Church" in this quote could refer to a Protestant, Jewish or Muslim "church." The point Locke is trying to make in this first quote is to show how foolish and hypocritical bloodthirsty political "Anglicans" and "Catholics" have been when they try to justify murder and violence under the pretense of their religion. Locke disliked it when people used the Christian faith to justify hatred and violence.
In the second quote Locke seems to be talking about Muslims rather than Catholics. The rest of the paragraph in that quote Locke immediately goes on to say (you really should have included an elipsis at the end of your quote):
"... It is ridiculous for any one to profess himself to be a Mahometan only in his religion, but in everything 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. But this Mahometan living amongst Christians would yet more apparently renounce their government if he acknowledged the same person to be head of his Church who is the supreme magistrate in the state."
But even with that foregoing said it has to be noted that Locke has previously argued that Muslims should be and indeed are tolerated in civil socoeity, and that therefore, fellow Christians, such as Catholics, should also be tolerated. In short, Locke's letter expresses his concern for the promotion of the civil toleration of religion. Thepointofit (talk) 19:12, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
Your own (or my own) interpretation of Locke's words are irrelevant in Wikipedia. Wikipedia policy is to go with what the scholars claim. The scholarly consensus is that Locke is talking about the Catholic church in the first part of my quote as well as the second (as demonstrated by the quotes I supplied above). The quote you provide and which you criticise me for not supplying also supports my stance. I'll quote a leading scholar of Locke, Richard Aschcraft: "Using the metaphor of a Mohammedan for James [II], Locke argues that “it is ridiculous” for someone to profess himself a Mohammedan “only in religion” while claiming to be a supporter of the established Christian civil and ecclesiastical institutions if, as Locke believes, his religion in fact requires that he “yield blind obedience” to a foreign prince. James’ intentions, in other words, are not to be trusted no matter how he “frames the feigned oracles of his religion” to suit his own political purposes."—Richard Ashcraft, Revolutionary Politics and Locke's "Two Treatises of Government" (Princeton University Press, 1986), p. 504. Ashcraft also claims that the first paragraph of my quotation of Locke is about the Catholic church. Not keeping faith with heretics, deposing heretical kings etc Ashcraft identifies as well-worn anti-Catholic tropes which all readers would have recognised as identifying the Catholic church (p. 503). The quote I supplied from Marshall also claims that Locke is talking about the Catholic church here and that all contemporary readers would have understood that Locke was talking about the Catholic church. This is what the scholars claim.--Britannicus (talk) 19:30, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
Britannicus, the arguments of "scholar" John Marshall are better than others, and more balanced than your statement in Wikipedia. However, they fail to recognize a crucial point made by Locke himself. In his essay Locke repeatedly makes the point that every religious person believes the faith of outsiders to be heretical. Because this was so, Locke argued that all Christian sects needed to recognise this point and make sure that they were civil with one another. Locke was castigating all the denominations that promote violence and intoleration. Thepointofit (talk) 20:01, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
As post-modern schools have thought have taught us - scholarly opinion can be wrong and/or biased by a dominating cultural influence (anti-Catholic bigotry of English academics in this case). I prefer to take the explicit and very clear words of John Locke over some obtuse and bigoted scholar. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thepointofit (talkcontribs) 20:06, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
How do these scholars reconcile their interpretation of an intolerant anti-Catholic John Locke with the quotes I have provided above? Why would John Locke write a letter about toleration only to exclude the most influential and powerful Christian group aside from Anglicans? Who was John Locke asking Anglicans to be tolerant of, if not Catholics? The arguments of these scholars is preposterous unless you share their bigoted perspective. Thepointofit (talk) 20:28, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
Firstly, your complete rejection of any reliance on scholars is completely antithetical to Wikipedia's policy (there is no evidence that Marshall or Ashcraft are anti-Catholic bigots). Secondly, to argue for toleration for non-Anglican Protestants (the Dissenters) but not to Catholics was not unusual; indeed, this was the policy of the Toleration Act 1688. I am more than happy for other editors or an administrator to settle this dispute.--Britannicus (talk) 20:44, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
The scholars could have tried to say that John Locke was against a specific doctrine that the Catholic Church held (along with other Protestant sects) but that Locke was not against the individual Catholics that lived in England. I think this more moderate view would've had these scholars come across in a better light. Unfortunately, they did not say this, but rather they took a hardline view and argued that John Locke was anti-Catholic. And the entire view of these scholars is based on this one passage. It is a shame that a man can write so many beautiful words espousing the virtues of practicing kindness and generiosity to your fellow man, only to have them ignored to satiate long-held prejudices - and by scholars, nonetheless. It is absurd to argue that John Locke only wanted the magistrate to tolerate the English Dissenters but not Catholics.Thepointofit (talk) 21:07, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: "Did Locke exclude Catholics from toleration in his Letter Concerning Toleration?" is an improper question to be asking in a RfC. It is not for Wikipedia contributors to decide such things - instead we defer to appropriate sources. That is how Wikipedia works. It is a cornerstone of Wikipedia policy that content be verifiable in published reliable sources - and the sources in question for such matters as those at the heart of this dispute are the 'scholars' which a contributor appears to be arguing have got it wrong. Quite possibly they have (I for one am entirely unqualified to judge one way or another), but nevertheless, if they say one thing, we cannot state the opposite because we think we know better. We cite sources for content, and expect our readers to refer to such sources if they need verification or further details. We don't cite ourselves, and leave our readers wondering why we have abandoned our principles because we don't like what the sources say... AndyTheGrump (talk) 07:40, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
    • Reply: Britannicus's own sources state that others disagree with them, so at the very most it is only some scholars that have this derogatory view of Locke. Furthermore, most of these scholars simply relay what they have heard and have not done any research into this question. The only passage from Locke's writings that they refer to is this one passage from Locke's Letter and ignore the 7 quotes from the letter that show his argument for the toleration of Catholics. Finally, it is ironic that we are all trying to appeal to authority - a very Catholic thing to do. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thepointofit (talkcontribs) 13:05, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
      • No, Marshall says "many but not all scholars since" i.e. the scholarly consensus is clear: Locke opposed tolerating Catholics. Just because one or two scholars claim the opposite that doesn't mean their view prevails over the majority. For example in the article 'Tradition and Prudence in Locke's Exceptions to Toleration' (American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 47, No. 2 (Apr., 2003), pp. 248-258), David J. Lorenzo asks: “Why did Locke exclude Catholics and atheists from toleration when he otherwise supported an extensive set of religious freedoms?” He then goes on to list the reasons scholars put forward as an explanation why Locke excluded Catholics (e.g. the context of his age, conventional views etc).--Britannicus (talk) 13:59, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
        • Does Lorenzo present arguments or evidence? Does he cite Locke or other scholars? Does he provide any concrete examples from the writings of Locke himself? Thepointofit (talk) 22:50, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
          • Yes, he cites both Locke and other scholars ("Despite the generality of its language, the Letter clearly identifies atheists and Catholics as groups undeserving of toleration..." etc).--Britannicus (talk) 22:58, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
      • Thepointofit, basing encyclopaedia article content on scholarly works is not an "appeal to authority" - it is Wikipedia policy, based on the sound principle that tertiary works should reflect the current consensus, and based on the sound principle that Wikipedia contributors aren't qualified to decide for themselves that such consensus is wrong. Wikipedia policy which cannot be be overridden by an RfC. If you wish to argue that the article doesn't reflect current scholarly consensus, you are of course free to do so - but you will need to present evidence to that effect. I suggest that you make that your objective, rather than wasting your time trying to convince others that your personal opinions regarding scholarship are somehow sufficient reason to ignore policy. That isn't going to work... AndyTheGrump (talk) 16:30, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Response: Andy, can you please explain the difference between appealing to concensus and appealing to authority. Haven't you just placed the authority in the concensus? So what about objective evidence? What about the words of Locke himself? I am sure many hate groups, such as the KKK, have produced massive amounts literature promoting one race over another. If we were just to rely on the literature that exists Wikipedia may have to state that one race is more superior than the others because no other consensus exists except the literature of the KKK? Is that right? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thepointofit (talkcontribs) 17:26, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
I have no intention of getting drawn into a pointless debate here. I have explained Wikipedia policy, which is that article content is based on material verifiable in published reliable sources, rather than the opinions of contributors. This is not open to negotiation. AndyTheGrump (talk) 21:05, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

Britannicus: If you would qualify your statement and not make it so definitive I think that would be a fair and responsible way of resolving this dispute. Perhaps, you can indicate that this is a debated issue rather than a resolved issue as Mr. Marshall has noted. Otherwise, it is you who has to prove the consensus of your defamatory assertion. Thepointofit (talk) 17:30, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

Why do many of these scholars fail to notice that Locke made a distinction between the speculative or theological opinions that Churches and lay people held and the political opinions held by Churches and lay people? Locke was against Churches pretending to have any temporal or civil power. In this respect, he was against Anglicanism as much as he was against Catholicism. He was ok with the speculative opinions of Catholicism but not the Church's political opinions. Thepointofit (talk) 18:03, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

Britannicus the quotes you provide are very sparse in providing evidence for the argument that John Locke was anti-Catholic or intolerant of Catholics. The quotes contain simple assertions for the most part. It appears the majority of the scholars you have quoted have fallen into the problem of group think or laziness, and are not indicative of a consensus. The most you can say is that Locke didn't like the suspected political teachings of the Catholic Church at the time, but that he was completely okay with, nay, deeply desired having a magistrate that tolerated everyday Catholics. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thepointofit (talkcontribs) 20:58, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

I have quoted ELEVEN (now sixteen) scholars to back up my claim about what the scholarly consensus is. If you believe the scholarly consensus is not what I claim it is, where is your proof? Where are your reliable sources? You have no interest in accepting scholarly sources and I think you should be banned from editing the page. Locke's opposition to granting toleration to Catholics is not from their religious beliefs but from their political doctrines. This is what the scholars claim.--Britannicus (talk) 21:09, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
read the letter - that is my proof. Thepointofit (talk) 22:44, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
Since you have offered no policy-compliant reason why the sourced content regarding Locke's position towards the toleration of Catholics presently in the article should not be included, I can see no reason why this malformed RfC should continue - regardless of the result (which would seem a foregone conclusion anyway) Wikipedia policy does not permit the personal opinions of contributors to override sourced scholarly opinion. I am therefore going to request that an admin close this RfC as null and void. AndyTheGrump (talk) 01:01, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents#An apparently invalid RfC that probably needs closing as null and void. AndyTheGrump (talk) 01:40, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
I agree with Andy the Grump that Wikipedia policies concerning sourcing, verifiability, original research and NPOV are not subject to being overridden by this RfC, because Thepointoffit has essentially said that the answer to everything is to read Locke's letter. That's not how things work here, and if Thepointoffit is not going to provide sources equal to or greater than the legitimate sources provided by Brittanicus, this RfC should be closed precipitously as meaaningless. Some interpretation of Wikipedia policies can be subjected to consensus between editors (as, for instance, as to WP:WEIGHT), but the policies themselves must still be followed. Thepointofit appears to be incapable or unwilling to follow those policies, despite explanations provided on their talk page. BMK (talk) 03:55, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Sources must support the statements they're connected to[edit]

Editor Thepointofit is attempting to add this to the article

There are, however, indications in the Letter that Locke desired the civil state to tolerate Roman Catholic worship practices if not the Church's political views.

using the previously cited source John Marshall, John Locke, Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 690-93

However, one cannot simply throw words into an article and add in a reference at random without the reference actually supporting the statement made. So, my direct question to User:Thepointofit is:

  • Does John Marsall (not you) in those three pages of John Locke, Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture support the idea that "there are ... indications in the Letter that Locke desired the civil state to tolerate Roman Catholic worship practices if not the Church's political views"? If so, please write in a comment below this the precise and exact words used by Marshall to evince these "indications". Until you show, conclusively, that this is someone's opinion, supported by a reliable source, and not simply a repeat of your own opinion -- which you've been trying to shoehorn into the article for a while now -- that statement will not go into this article. BMK (talk) 08:14, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

(Note: Do not quote the entire three pages, that would be a copyright violation, just the parts that support your contention.) BMK (talk) 08:16, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

See below BMK - Thepointofit (talk) 18:42, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

Proof for BMK that John Locke was tolerant of Roman Catholic practices.[edit]

From scholar John Marshall

The combination of Locke’s comments in the Letter suggest that during composition of the Letter in winter 1685, Locke was once again struggling over how to discriminate between the series of associated political principles which for him made Catholics intolerable, and the religious worship and other religious beliefs of Catholic which deserved toleration. It seems probable that in writing the Letter Locke thought that at least some Catholics in England and the Netherlands were politically as well as religiously tolerable, as they did not hold that faith did not have to be kept with heretics, nor that excommunicated kings were deposed, and were themselves tolerant, and yet at the same time thought that very many Catholics, especially but not merely Jesuits, were indeed intolerable, and wishes to register both of these propositions in the Letter."—John Marshall, John Locke, Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 690-693.

Thepointofit (talk) 18:42, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

I have replaced your synopsis of Marshall's opinion with the actual quote you provided. BMK (talk) 19:29, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
That seems entirely reasonable to me. AndyTheGrump (talk) 19:46, 30 May 2015 (UTC)