Spring 2009 Symposium: Pluralism, Tolerance, and Freedom: What's At Stake

It is often said that when the United States adopted the First Amendment, it moved beyond “mere” religious tolerance to true religious freedom. But tolerance does not become irrelevant when freedom is protected. There are many indications that we are becoming a less tolerant society, and that this trend is shrinking the social and political space within which our freedoms can be exercised. This Symposium will address issues of tolerance in both religious and non-religious contexts.


All programs are presented at 11:00 a.m. and repeated at 7:30 p.m., in Boyd Dining Center.

Beyond Tolerance

GustavNiebuhr-1Thursday, February 5, 2009
Gustav Niebuhr, M.A., Associate Professor in Religion and the Media, University of Syracuse.
We live in an increasingly diverse culture and in an era of religious terror. How might we build up our vulnerable civil society? Do the times demand that we discover new forms to engage with and learn from one another?


Terror, Hate Speech, and the Limits of Tolerance

Thursday, February 12, 2009
IsabelleKinnardIsabelle Kinnard, J.D., Ph.D., Vice President for Education, Council for America's First Freedom, Richmond, VA.
Why do we make space in our democracy for groups whose religious commitments would deny that freedom to others?  How can we remain true to our own core values and still recognizethe rights of others to their freedom?


Religious Freedom and the "Other" Religions: American Attitudes Towards Unconventional Religious Groups

Thursday, February 19, 2009
TimMillerTimothy Miller, Ph.D., Professor of Religious Studies, University of Kansas.
Most American religious groups would say they value tolerance toward other groups. History, however, tells us that unconventional religious minorities have always experienced misunderstanding and intolerance. How have America’s minority religions been treated by the majority in the past? Has America’s increasing religious diversity in recent decades led to more tolerance in the present?

False Tolerance: The Danger of Casual Relativism

Thursday, February 26, 2009
PatrickGoold_002Patrick Goold, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy, Virginia Wesleyan College.
Can one be devoted to truth and yet be tolerant? Or does toleration require one to let truth slide in the interest of getting along? Can I be loving and tolerant? Or does toleration require a measure of indifference to others’ views? Can I be tolerant and still have a spine?


Tolerating Religion in the Public Square: America’s Sacred Ground

Thursday, March 5, 2009
BarbaraMcGrawBarbara A. McGraw, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Social Ethics, Law, and Public Life and Director of the Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism, St. Mary's College of California.
Religion has always been involved in American public life. Yet we tend to have a mixed reaction to this reality.  For some, it is a deeply felt expression of faith; for others it can seem coercive, perhaps even a threat to church-state separation.  How might principles such as freedom and tolerance help us sort through these tensions?

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