Love or Tolerance? A Virtue Response to Religious Violence and Plurality

  • William R. Jarrett


Violence is a threat to human flourishing and religious violence is of particular concern. Despite the United Nations issuance of several documents addressing religious freedom, and declaring 1995 “The United Nations Year for Tolerance,” religious violence continues rising worldwide in a global culture increasingly committed to promoting religious tolerance. Although promoted as a virtue in modern liberalism, I argue that the tolerance encouraged in society presently does not function as virtue and propose that caritas, the theological virtue of love, functions in a way that tolerance cannot. I contend that tolerance is an ideology, and then contrast that ideology with caritas. Next, I suggest that hospitality, the moral virtue associated with caritas, can function in the broader culture, achieving what tolerance alone cannot, a positive resolution of conflict arising from the presence of others. Finally, I conclude with a brief critique of my position and offer suggestions for further discussions.