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John Locke's Legacy of Religious Freedom

Sanford Kessler
Polity
Vol. 17, No. 3 (Spring, 1985), pp. 484-503
DOI: 10.2307/3234655
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3234655
Page Count: 20
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John Locke's Legacy of Religious Freedom
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Abstract

Historically, in many parts of the world, neither the priest nor the prince has been willing to remain confined to his designated realm if dominance of the other's affairs seemed possible. A moderated form of this inclination may be seen in John Locke's advocacy of religious freedom. As Professor Kessler notes here, Locke wants to establish the secular authority's supremacy over the churches, albeit, without enabling the government to use religion in a scheme of oppression. He would limit religious freedom to forms of worship that have no destabilizing political consequences. He hoped the free churches would teach civic virtue and promote civil peace. But his theory also has the purpose of making Christianity itself more compatible with the modern state.

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