The Birth of ReIigious Toleration

The Birth of ReIigious Toleration

Benjamin J. Kaplan, in Journal of Early Modem History (2002: No. 4), Univ. of Minnesota, 614 Social Sciences, 267-19thAve. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55455; and "Fictions of Privacy: House Chapels and the Spatial Accommodation of Religious Dissent in Early Modern Europe" Benjamin J. Kaplan, in American Historical Review (Oct. 2002), 400 A St., S.E., Washington, D.C.20003.In the aftermath of the Reformation, the Parallel practices evolved outside the religious division in European states...

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als and colonels we saw on American TV. Reporters were not afraid to challenge the coalition’s claims."

The coverage CNN offered to the world at large was, despite "plenty of overlap," different from the coverage it gave American viewers, according to Massing. CNN International "was far more serious and informed"—more like the BBC. "For the most part," he says, "U.S. news organizations gave Americans the war they thought Americans wanted to see."


Religion & Philosophy

The Birth of Religious Toleration

"Diplomacy and Domestic Devotion: Embassy Chapels and the Toleration of Religious Dissent in Early Modern Europe" by Benjamin J. Kaplan, in Journal of Early Modern History (2002: No. 4), Univ. of Minnesota, 614 Social Sciences, 267-19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55455; and "Fictions of Privacy: House Chapels and the Spatial Accommodation of Religious Dissent in Early Modern Europe" by Benjamin J. Kaplan, in American Historical Review (Oct. 2002), 400 A St., S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003.

In the aftermath of the Reformation, the religious division in European states caused a special problem for diplomats: Where was a Protestant ambassador to worship in a Catholic capital such as Paris, Vienna, Brussels, or Madrid? And where was a Catholic diplomat to worship in a Protestant capital such as London, Stockholm, Copenhagen, or The Hague? To deal with the diplomatic issue, and, more broadly, to keep domestic religious divisions from tearing countries apart, European states hit upon a distinction that allowed the furtive practice of religious tolerance.

The distinction they made, explains Kaplan, a historian at University College, London, was between public worship, in accordance with a community’s official faith, and private worship. Beginning in the 17th century, ambassadors were allowed increasingly to establish chapels inside their residences where they could practice their forbidden faith in private—as long as they did not visibly flout the sacral community of the host nation.


Parallel practices evolved outside the rarefied realm of high diplomacy with the gradual acceptance of what the Dutch called the schuilkerk, or clandestine church. Most schuilkerken were created in-




When the Catholic chapel in the French embassy in London collapsed in 1623 on the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, killing 90, Protestants saw it as an act of divine retribution.



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side homes, though some were inside warehouses or barns. But they shared a key characteristic, as did the embassy chapels: None looked like a place of worship from the street. In Amsterdam, Catholics maintained 20 such churches in 1700, while the Mennonites had six and other groups four. The Dutch schuilkerken, Kaplan points out, had thousands of counterparts elsewhere in Europe, with various names, including house churches, prayer houses, meeting houses, mass houses, house chapels, oratories, and assembly places.

The embassy chapels stirred a new issue: Could native religious dissidents attend services in an embassy? "For an entire century," writes Kaplan, "from the 1560s through the 1650s, this issue provoked clashes in London, some of them violent, between authorities and citizens, on the one hand, and the personnel of the Spanish, French, and Venetian embassies on the other." The 1583 "Throckmorton plot"— which involved the Spanish ambassador and an Englishman who aimed to restore Catholicism in England—seemed to confirm English suspicions about the foreign embassies of Catholic powers.


But despite frequent tensions and occasional violence, Kaplan says, most embassy chapels in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries effectively served "significant congregations that included native dissidents." And out of that practice developed the modern legal doctrine of extraterritoriality: the pretense that an ambassador and his embassy were on the soil of his homeland. Thus, embassy chapels did not violate the religious laws of a host country, and native dissidents who attended chapel services did not violate local laws. It was all part of a larger fiction, says Kaplan, "that enabled Europeans to accommodate dissent without confronting it directly, to tolerate knowingly what they could not bring themselves to accept fully...to go on living as if civic and sacral community were still one and the same."





Is Good Luck Unfair?

"What is Egalitarianism?" by Samuel Scheffler, in Philosophy & Public Affairs (Winter 2003), and "Equality, Luck and Hierarchy" by Ronald Dworkin, in Philosophy & Public Affairs (Spring 2003), 41 Williams St., Princeton, N.J. 08540.


"Life is unfair," President John F. Kennedy once famously observed. A school of philosophers has arisen in recent decades with a (theoretical) solution: Redistribute economic resources to compensate for advantages conferred by luck, and let advantages stemming from individuals’ own choices stand. But this "luck egalitarianism," as it’s been dubbed, misconstrues the ideal of equality, contends Scheffler, a professor of philosophy and law at the University of California, Berkeley.

According to Scheffler, "luck egalitarians" such as Ronald Dworkin, Will Kymlicka, and John Roemer deny "that a person’s natural talent, creativity, intelligence, innovative skill, or entrepreneurial ability can be the basis for legitimate inequalities." On the other hand, earning more money than others by choosing to work more hours than they do is fine—and so, luck egalitarians argue, the extra money shouldn’t be taxed.

But the ideal of equality, as commonly understood, Scheffler says, "is opposed not to luck but to oppression, to heritable hierarchies of social status, to ideas of caste, to class privilege and the rigid stratification of classes, and to the undemocratic distribution of power." As a moral ideal, equality asserts the equal worth of human beings; as a political ideal, the equal rights of citizens. Questions about the distribution of economic resources are important but secondary considerations.

Dworkin, a professor of philosophy and law at New York University and the author of Sovereign Virtue (2000), tries "to anchor luck-egalitarian principles in a more general ideal of equality," Scheffler says. But his ideal "is perfectly compatible with social hierarchy." For example, "an auto


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