Letter: Religious tolerance is essential for a peaceable community

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The Independent Online
Sir: Paul Vallely refers to a post-Christian liberalism, combining tolerance with a sense of purpose, and asserts that to define such liberalism will not be an easy task.

Humanity is perhaps the one word that includes a sense of purpose with tolerance. As all creatures want to reproduce and perpetuate their species, an objective for human beings might be to minimise all suffering and to enable our own species to go on living on this planet indefinitely, and so far as practicable to do so happily. That calls for respect - respect for people, respect for other sentient beings, for property, for biodiversity, and for the environment - coupled with endless vigilance and much hard work. Therein lies the real challenge.

As to education, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is clear: "Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace" (Article 26).

It was, I think, Archbishop Tutu who suggested that education should help people to develop their God-given potential so as to become more fully human, with a humanity which for Christians is to be measured by nothing less than the humanity of Christ himself.

In the UK we should not have any education that offends against those concepts.

John Wymer

Bridport, Dorset