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Beyond TolerationThe Religious Origins of American Pluralism$
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Chris Beneke

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195305555

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195305558.001.0001

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 The Plague of Dissent

 The Plague of Dissent

And the Rise of Toleration

(p.15) 1 The Plague of Dissent
Beyond Toleration

Chris Beneke (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The story opens in the first three decades of the 18th century when dissenters were still treated as political subversives and unorthodox doctrines still compared to contagious diseases. This chapter briefly summarizes the long history of persecution in Europe and America, emphasizing the ideal of religious uniformity and the practice of religious localism. It then traces the emergence of toleration and the limits of the “divine right of private judgment”. The chapter concludes with an account of an early religious controversy involving Benjamin Franklin to underscore the relationship between the growth of the print trade and the expansion of religious autonomy.

Keywords:   dissent, disease, persecution, uniformity, Orthodoxy, localism, print trade, Benjamin Franklin, right of private judgment

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