In the December 2003 Imprimis, Michael Novak writes about the so-called separation of church and state. Much of what he has to say is really informative (go read for yourself), though I think I’ll have to read some more of the writers he referenced in his piece.
His discussion of tolerance was right on. I could not agree more, nor say it any better than he did, and so I shall quote him here:
…among Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others there have been examples of generations of “tolerance.” But tolerance is a different (and less profound) concept than the right to religious liberty. Tolerance may arise merely from a temporary lack of power to enforce conformity; it does not by itself invoke a natural right. The concept of religious liberty, on the other hand, depends upon a particular conception of God, a particular conception of the human person, and a particular conception of liberty. Reaching these conceptions took Jews and Christians many centuries. They had to be learned through failure and sin and error, and at great cost. But they were eventually learned.