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Summary of "Twin Toleration" Alfred Stepan

  • Date Submitted: 02/08/2012 02:10 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 26.5 
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“Twin tolerations” means that there is a clear distinction and a mutual respect between political authorities and religious leaders and bodies. When true differentiation is accomplished, the religious sector enjoys freedom of activity and the ability to peacefully influence its members but does not wield direct political power. A country’s ability to implement the principle of differentiation directly affects the successful development of democracy.

He then asks three important questions:
  1. What are the minimal core institutional and political requirements for democracy?

    • According to Dahl’s eight conditions core requirements for democracy are:
        1. freedom to form and join organizations
        2. Freedom of expression
        3. The right to vote
        4. Eligibility for public office
        5. the right of political leaders to compete for support and votes
        6. Alternative sources of information
        7. Free and fair elections; and
        8. Institutions for making government policies depend on votes and other expressions of preference.

    • They are insufficient because no matter how free and fair the elections and no matter how large the government's majority, democracy must also have a constitution that itself is democratic in that it respects fundamental liberties and offers considerable protections for minority rights.

  2. How have a set of long-standing democracies (the European Union countries) actually met these minimal boundary requirements and what “maps of misreading” can be extracted from this experience?

    • Established churches: He notes that as of 1990, five EU countries—Denmark, Finland, Greece, Sweden, and the United Kingdom—plus the non-EU country Norway, had established churches. Furthermore, every long-standing west European democracy with a strong Lutheran majority—Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, and Norway—had an established churches.
    • Education: In the Netherlands,...


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