Letter: Religious tolerance is essential for a peaceable community

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The Independent Online
Sir: Paul Vallely (4 March) deplores the fanatical rigours of religious moral absolutism, but he says secular tolerance has plunged us into a "quagmire of relativism".

We cannot afford to allow religious conviction, of whatever brand, and however sincere, to plunge us back into the fratricidal conflicts which were engendered by such blinkered self-righteousness in the 16th and 17th centuries. Those of us who believe that the toleration which underpins our democracy, far from being "thin gruel", is the essential mortar of a peaceable community can only view with the utmost foreboding the growing sectarian divisions being promoted within our educational and cultural life. If any one set of beliefs lays claim to respect and toleration, it must be prepared also to respect and tolerate the adherents of other belief systems, or of none.

"How much intolerance can we tolerate?" Hardly any, I should have thought.

A E G Wright

London NW2