John Locke Religion Analysis

Emily Feder
Western Political Thought
Paper Topic 5

The Establishment Clause: Fact or Fiction

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” These words are an integral part of the establishment of the framework of the United States, but does religion really have no place in politics? The debate over the role of religion in civil society dates back to 18th century. The greatest analysis can be found in John Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality. While the two scholars disagreed on the role of religion, they both agreed that the interaction between the state and the church must be managed. Both Locke and Rousseau had a tremendous
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Locke believes in a complete separation of the church and the state for this exact reason, he does not see forced religion as true religion. He argues that keeping the church and state apart from each other is to each institution 's own good because when they are combined it gives rise to forceful religious submission. In Locke’s opinion, a person must have a genuine belief in his own religion or it will lead to the irrational use of force for salvation. He argues that, “No peace and security, no not so much as common friendship, can ever be established or perserved amongst men, so long as this opinon preails, that dominion is founded in grace and that religion is to be propagated by force of arms” (Locke 33). Part of Locke’s theory of separation of church and state is the notion that religion cannot be used as a tool for political gains; to do so would be too offensive. In addition, Locke says that intolerance is bad for leaders because it discourages the people from submitting themselves and creates oppression, which will eventually lead to instability. Leaders are supposed to encourage diversity for diversity is not injury. Lastly, Locke argues that Christianity is a religion of peace and love that does not allow for violence, therefore force, in the hopes of creating uniform religion, is …show more content…
This would calm the worries of those citizens who had issues with the idea of a society in which people didn’t believe in a higher power. The way in which Locke justifies toleration could also appeal to citizens at the time because it draws on the fundamental values of Christianity. Locke calls to attention the fact that Christianity is a peaceful religion that does not allow for violence. He speaks to those Christians who are intolerant in his Letter Concerning Toleration, “Now, I appeal to the consciences of those who persecute, wound, torture, and kill other men on the excuse of ‘religion’, whether they do this in a spirit of friendship and kindness”(Locke 23-24). He also explains how forcing a religion, Christianity in this case, onto another person will not truly make them a believer, so it is better to allow

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