Barriers to Religious Toleration

Dealing with religious toleration includes dealing with refugees and migration. This is not a new phenomenon today, as became clear from the presentation made by Herman Selderhuis on Calvinist refugees in the 16th and 17th centuries, during the ReIReS workshop in Mainz.

Selderhuis (Apeldoorn) emphasized that one of the major sins in 16th century Geneva was xenophobia: first refugees were welcomed, but as soon as their numbers grew, they became suspect, especially if they were successful. The nationality aspect plays, in many cases, a bigger role than the religious aspect when it comes to religious toleration.

This also came out of the the group discussion. Alessia Passarelli brought to attendee’s attention that: “One of the conclusions of my research is that some of the integration policies did not work, exactly because of the presumption that people of same denomination will understand each other, while actually we see that the cultural element very often plays a bigger role than the religious one.”

In her own paper on the project “Online atlas of religious and belief minorities” she mentioned another barrier: the increased level of discrimination towards religious minorities in Europe in previous years.

In a way, textbooks for educational purposes can cause barriers when they offer myths instead of facts about religious minorities, thus feeding negative images about religious minorities.

Mathijs Lamberigts (KU Leuven) mentioned that the way we think about integration plays a crucial role. What do we mean by integration? The return of colonialism? Xenophobia? Western superiority complex?

All in all, the workshop offered a lot of insights for further reflection.

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