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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow". It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve". Toleration may signify "no more than forbearance and the permission given by the adherents of a dominant religion for other religions to exist, even though the latter are looked on with disapproval as inferior, mistaken or harmful".

There is only one verb 'to tolerate' and one adjective 'tolerant', but the two nouns 'tolerance' and 'toleration' have evolved slightly different meanings. Tolerance is an attitude of mind that implies non-judgmental acceptance of different lifestyles or beliefs, whereas toleration implies putting up with something that one disapproves of.

Historically, most incidents and writings pertaining to toleration involve the status of minority and dissenting viewpoints in relation to a dominant state religion. In the twentieth century and after, analysis of the doctrine of toleration has been expanded to include political and ethnic groups, homosexuals and other minorities, and human rights embodies the principle of legally enforced toleration.




The word tolerance was first used in the 15th century.

The word is derived from endurance and fortitude, used in the 14th century. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word was first used to describe having permission from authorities in the 1530s.

As reported in the Old Testament, the Persian king Cyrus the Great was believed to have released the Jews from captivity in 539–530 BC, and permitted their return to their homeland.

The Hellenistic city of Alexandria, founded 331 BC, contained a large Jewish community which lived in peace with equivalently sized Greek and Egyptian populations. According to Michael Walzer, the city provided "a useful example of what we might think of as the imperial version of multiculturalism."

The Roman Empire encouraged conquered peoples to continue worshipping their own gods. "An important part of Roman propaganda was its invitation to the gods of conquered territories to enjoy the benefits of worship within the imperium." Christians were singled out for persecution because of their own rejection of Roman pantheism and refusal to honor the emperor as a god. In 311 AD, Roman Emperor Galerius issued a generaledict of toleration of Christianity, in his own name and in those of Licinius and Constantine I (who converted to Christianity the following year).



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