Main content

Toleration

Melvyn Bragg discusses what had happened in England to make diverse religions ‘tolerable’. What was the philosophy and politics behind the idea of toleration, and does it differ from tolerance?

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas and politics behind the idea of religious toleration. In 1763 Voltaire remarked that "of all religions, the Christian is undoubtedly that which should instil the greatest toleration, although so far the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men". Christian intolerance was brutally enforced across Western Europe in the Middle Ages and the Reformation, with inquisitions, executions, church courts and brandings with hot irons. But during the English Civil War a variety of Christian sects sprang up which challenged the imposition of state religion and opened the floodgates to religious diversity.What were the politics and philosophy behind the idea of toleration in England? Did the rise of toleration go hand in hand with the rise of the secular, or were tolerationists – in fact – deeply religious? And how does toleration differ from tolerance?With Justin Champion, Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas at Royal Holloway, University of London; David Wootton, Professor of Intellectual History at Queen Mary, University of London; Sarah Barber, Senior Lecturer in History at Lancaster University.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Thu 20 May 2004 21:30

Broadcasts

Featured in...

In Our Time podcasts

In Our Time podcasts

Every episode of In Our Time is available to download.

The In Our Time Listeners' Top 10

The In Our Time Listeners' Top 10

If you’re new to In Our Time, this is a good place to start.

Arts and Ideas podcast

Arts and Ideas podcast

Download the best of Radio 3's Free Thinking programme.

Podcast