Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Religious Tolerance in a Christian Nation?

The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was one of Thomas Jefferson's proudest achievements, so much so that his tombstone reads

HERE WAS BURIED
THOMAS JEFFERSON
AUTHOR OF THE
DECLARATION
OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
OF THE
STATUTE OF VIRGINIA
FOR
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
AND FATHER OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
BORN APRIL 2, 1743 O.S.
DIED JULY 4. 1826



Of the statute, Jefferson wrote [and is often quoted]:


The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason & right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that it's protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it's protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.



It's indisputable that the Virginia scheme was more or less followed in the states, that all religions were protected. But let's look closely at where this freedom comes from.

"Jesus Christ" is explicitly not added, perhaps for the reason Jefferson gives, that all religions are protected. But that's the "plan" of "the Holy author of our religion," a phrase that remains in the text of the statute.

Where as Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do...




One might argue that Virginia's statute [the least explicitly religious of all the states] had some other "author" and "religion" in mind than Jesus or the God of the Bible. Jefferson is well-known for his personal skepticism about that stuff.

But Who is this Holy author, and of what religion?

For George Washington's Circular Letter to the States[1783] that announced his stepping down as the Continental Army's commander-in-chief [the revolution was won!], uses "divine author of our blessed religion" in the clear context of Jesus Christ.

"Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion..."


And although it's true that Washington probably didn't personally write it, this indicates what the common meaning of the phrase was, and Washington did sign it in his own hand.

And even in Massachusetts, which had an officially established church, we see the orthodox Calvinist Samuel Adams write as early as 1772 that religious tolerance, via John Locke himself, has become a feature of Christianity:

In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practised, and, both by precept and example, inculcated on mankind. And it is now generally agreed among Christians that this spirit of toleration, in the fullest extent consistent with the being of civil society, is the chief characteristical mark of the Church. Insomuch that Mr. Locke has asserted and proved, beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are not subversive of society.


And so, if it be argued that America's religious tolerance was the product of a rising secularism, it can also be argued that the prevailing sentiment of the day was that religious freedom was demanded and guaranteed by Christianity itself.

Regardless of Jefferson's personal theological beliefs, he couldn't avoid using Christian arguments, and that's what got Christians to sign on the dotted line.

39 comments:

Brad Hart said...

Not a bad argument...not bad atall. You do go a bit too far (at least for my taste) with the Christianity angle but that doesn't negate anything you've said. I probably would have written your last sentence as follows:

"And so, if it be argued that America's religious tolerance was the product of a rising secularism, it can also be argued that the prevailing sentiment of the day was that religious freedom was demanded and guaranteed by PROVIDENCE itself."

That sounds more Jeffersonian.

Again, good argument. Get ready for the attack dogs...I hear them growling.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, the thing is, the texts say "the chief characteristical mark of the Church," and in Virginia, "Holy author of our religion."

Italics mine. What does our mean? Jefferson, a self-described "sect unto himself" kept his theology even more secret in 1779 [when he wrote it] and in 1786 [when it was passed while he was out of the country].

It's just ridiculous to believe that the Virginians thought "our" religion was the same as what we know Jefferson's to have been today, with all his private letters at hand.

I'm not trying to win a cheap point on rhetorical overstatement, just going where the texts lead. Both the statute and Sam Adams explicitly say that Christianity demands religious tolerance.

bpabbott said...

Re: "Who is this Holy author, and of what religion?"

Jefferson may have intended the identity of the Holy author to remain un-named so as to conform to, and not to offend, the beliefs of anyone/everyone.

Brad Hart said...

I agree with Ben. I think you may be reading too much into this. "Our" religion doesn't really mean a whole lot. And as we all know, Jefferson himself spoke of (like Franklin) America's "public religion." Perhaps that is what he was referring to.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, I don't deny Jefferson thought of it that way. But like the Constitution, it's what the people who passed it thought.

Who is the "author?" What "religion?" Who does our refer to?

Can't walk around these things.

Joe Winpisinger said...

"And so, if it be argued that America's religious tolerance was the product of a rising secularism, it can also be argued that the prevailing sentiment of the day was that religious freedom was demanded and guaranteed by Christianity itself"

This is exactly what I have been trying to get at. Locke looked at Christianity in a different way than Calvin and others did who burned "heretics". It does not mean it is not Christianity or "Theistic Rationalism" it is a different spin on the Bible that is grounded in liberty not submission.

Two different views of God really. WELL DONE TOM. I think your angle may have the makings of a book. It could set the Harvard Narrative straight if you wrote it.

King/Joe

Brad Hart said...

TVD writes:

"Who is the "author?" What "religion?" Who does our refer to?

Can't walk around these things."


And I don't think anyone is. I am just not convinced that this connects any dots.

Off to work...see you all maƱana.

bpabbott said...

Re: "But like the Constitution, it's what the people who passed it thought."

I think there are two different things at play here. (1) What did those who ratified the law intend it to mean legally. And (2) What did it mean to them personally.

Regarding (1) I favor the idea that they intended the meaning to depend upon the individual.

Regarding (2) most individuals would have favored a perspective associated with a broad definition of Christianity (which would necessarily overlap (to some degree) with Unitarianism and even Deism. In this case, I think the description, God of Providence, lacks a proper context.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, it's a preamble. The legal part doesn't apply, nor am I arguing it.

But "Holy author of our religion" is still more specific than Providence. And as Hutson points out

http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2008/09/scholarly-malpractice-and-founding.html

the ratifiers were more Baptists and Anglicans [Episcopalians], not secularists.

And as we're seeing, the Unitarian Christians accepted the Bible as Divine Writ. As for the "deists," whoever they are, it doesn't matter what "author" meant to them.

And when George Washington's Circular to the States uses "divine author of our blessed religion," the context there is clearly Jesus Christ.

http://www.pbs.org/georgewashington/multimedia/heston/circular_letter.html

"Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion..."

Although I accept the objection that Washington probably didn't personally write it, this indicates what the common meaning of the phrase was.

I think I've accepted the lion's share of the burden of proof here, and should, with a rather controversial assertion, but one I think is backed fully by the text and historical context.


I think at least some substantive argument should be made on the contrary interpretation besides dismissal. Even Jefferson's explanation, that "Jesus Christ" was omitted to accommodate Hindoos and others, does not subtract from the authority under which freedom from coercion is claimed.

And if not the authority, then the principle, a Christian principle, not Hindoo or Muslim.

Oprah said...

Tom wrote: "Although I accept the objection that Washington probably didn't personally write it, this indicates what the common meaning of the phrase was." What is important that even if Washington didn't write the Circular, he put his name to it, and he being a man who was obsessed with character, wouldn't have done so if he didn't believe it.

However, this post was about Jefferson. I think your argument is sound. Even if it makes a stretch as an earlier commenter posted, it's well argued.

I wonder if Jefferson meant divine author as Jesus, like Washington had. It seems to me that author, in Jefferson's use, fits in more with the deist argument (instead of the clockmaker analogy, let's say an author who then lets the masses read his work). But I'm not Jefferson expert so I wouldn't know...

Ray Soller said...

The fact that Jefferson wrote on his tombstone, "HERE WAS BURIED THOMAS JEFFERSON AUTHOR ... OF THE
STATUTE OF VIRGINIA FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ... " indicates to me that TJ was, most significantly, addressing future generations, who would, according to his vision of the future, come to recognize "Nature's God" as the "holy author of our religion."

bpabbott said...

Re: "the ratifiers were more Baptists and Anglicans [Episcopalians], not secularists."

I'm not sure what your intended point is here, but secularism does not exclude the religious. Secularism did not originate due to religious prejudice. Rather is arose to protect religion from the prejudice of others with differing religious opinions.

Re: "As for the "deists," whoever they are, it doesn't matter what "author" meant to them."

That all depends upon the definition of Deism. I think it inappropriate to apply a broad definition of Christianity while simultaneously a narrow definition of Deism.

I think is reasonable to say the God of Providence, or the "Holy author of our religion" may be either the Christian God or the Deist's God.

In the absence of Jesus' divinity (i.e. virgin birth), human depravity, the resurrection, and the inerrancy of scripture are put aside (i.e. those things not discoverable from reason and nature) the resulting view of God doesn't fit the Christian qualification any better than the Deist one (worse I think).

Tom Van Dyke said...

Nature's God doesn't write, Ray. Nature doesn't write. It's illiterate.

Nature's God is also "In God We Trust" and "One nation under God," Ray. I'm really not trying to hassle you, but you're off either way.

You've never even participated in our discussions of natural law, Ray, which was incontrovertibly the political theology of the Founding.

Everything I've written to you is not to exclude you from the game, but to get you back in it.
__________


Thx for the input & critiques, everybody. I meant to include Washington's understanding of the "author of our religion" in the middle of my original essay to "connect the dots."

D'oh! I forgot to include GW, but have gone back and put him in, and revised my concluding remarks.

Thx, everybody!

Tom Van Dyke said...

Now, now, Ben, you're getting into dogma. What, are you a fundamentalist or something?

bpabbott said...

Well ... if you remove the Christian creeds (dogma?) is it reasonable to call what is left Christian?

If the term Christian is applied too liberally, then the term losses its conceptual value.

Aaron Reese said...

Madison made the same argument.

An alliance or coalition between Government and religion cannot be too carefully guarded against......Every new and successful example therefore of a PERFECT SEPARATION between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance...religion and government will exist in greater purity, without (rather) than with the aid of government. [James Madison in a letter to Livingston, 1822, from Leonard W. Levy- The Establishment Clause, Religion and the First Amendment,pg 124]

I believe in the last chapter of Joseph Ellis's His Excellency, he speaks of Washington's personal religious views. Ellis brought up, that from time to time, Washington would mention Christ or Jesus in public addresses, he never once mentions Christ in his private correspondence, ever. Jefferson's private correspondence is similar in the way it seemingly contradicts a few public writings.

It made me come to the conclusion that saying things like "Holy Father of Our Religion" is somewhat like invoking the muse in Greek poetry. Whether they were devoutly Evangelical like John Jay or rejected Christ's divinity, as Franklin did, they all used similar language in preambles and closing courtesies.

Forensic Pitbull said...

I confess, your proposition holds water when speaking about TJ's contemporary political environment. I wasn't trying to disparage what you've proposed. But, from what I've learned of TJ, he as every politician, was capable of speaking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, which is to say I go along with Ben, where he wrote,"Jefferson may have intended the identity of the Holy author to remain un-named so as to conform to, and not to offend, the beliefs of anyone/everyone." I would only add that TJ's eulogy written on his tomb stone did intend to address future generations as I suggested.

When it comes to Jefferson's personal understanding of the "Holy author," I'm not convinced that he meant to identify Jesus as the "Redeemer of the world."

Jonathan Rowe said...

Jefferson's private writings are filled with references to Jesus of Nazareth as this great moral teacher, but 100% human, not divine at all.

Washington never once spoke of Jesus by name or example in his personal writings that have lots of talk about Providence.

One reference to JC by name and one to "divine author of our holy religion" in a public address, neither of which was written in GW's hand, but both were delivered with his imprimatur.

There's really not a whole lot there that proves GW was an orthodox Trinitarian Christian.

Though he did go out of his way to not say things either publicly or privately that would contradict such tenets.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thx, Mr. Reese and Mr. Pitball [altho you may be the same person].

The reason for the Washington quote is that the text explicitly associates the "author of our religion" with Jesus Christ.

This is not to say Washington believed that that author was "divine," and certainly not to say Jefferson did.

However, it's seems clear or at least likely that "author" meant Jesus to the vast majority of folks in the Founding era, those who signed the Virginia statute.

As for Madison's argument in the Memorial & Remonstrance, it's true the various Christians [especially the minority Baptists] ended up buying its logic. However, the prevailing narrative of religious freedom is that it was some sort of secular invention rather than a Christian one, which is my dissent here, and I think backed by the texts.

King of Ireland said...

"However, the prevailing narrative of religious freedom is that it was some sort of secular invention rather than a Christian one, which is my dissent here, and I think backed by the texts."

And thus so a "Christian" idea that helped propel us into the modern world totally aligned with the theme of my last half dozen or more posts. Just because ideas like these were used by, arguably, non or nominal Christians does not mean the idea is not part of the Christian worldview.

Now before someone says it I know that Calvin non tolerance was also part of the Christian worldview. I think what is ignored is the struggle within Christendom itself to see which view of God and man would prevail. Often times the rational Christian view is ignored by terms like "Theistic Rationalist".

Well done Tom I think you are on to something here.

bpabbott said...

Re: "However, the prevailing narrative of religious freedom is that it was some sort of secular invention rather than a Christian one, which is my dissent here, and I think backed by the texts."

I agree that religious freedom did not originate with secularism.

Ironically, I think that the motivation to provide religious freedom gave birth to secularism. While there are "secularists" who are hostile toward religion, they are misguided if they think secularism is, or was intended to be, hostile toward religion.

For example, the Constitution is not hostile toward religion. Quite the contrary. However, the Constitution is a document of secular language ... a secular document with significant religious inspirations and with explicit language for the protection of religious liberty.

jimmiraybob said...

Raise your hand if you think that the Enlightenment was a secular movement.

Raise your hand if you think that the Enlightenment was a Christian/religious movement.

Raise your hand if you think that the Enlightenment was a broad-based intellectual movement in reaction to centuries of both secular and religious suppression of intellectual expression and advancement.

Raise your hand if you think that the religious and the secular (let's call it humanity) were the beneficiaries of greater intellectual freedoms.

Raise your hand if you think that the secular can make exclusive claim on intellectual property (i.e., an idea).

Raise your hand if you think that the Christian/religious can make exclusive claim on intellectual property (i.e., an idea).

Now, as soon as I get back from running a few business errands I'll tabulate the results and come up with the final and unarguable solution to the problem. :)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

jimmiraybob,
Do I hear applause?!

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'll applaud anything that gets us off Calvin and Servetus.

There's another layer or two that we haven't even got to yet.

Brian Tubbs said...

Good article, Tom!

cartwright said...

Here's another usage of the term that references Jesus.

"The divine Author of our religion never wished for its support by worldly authority. Has he not said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?"

From the very interesting Debate in North Carolina Ratifying Convention

I still don't see what TVD's point might be in regards to secularism/religion and government, especially as it pertains to the current status.

(P.S. my word verification was "palin." feh.)

Tom Van Dyke said...


"The divine Author of our religion never wished for its support by worldly authority. Has he not said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?"


This was Madison's argument against [financially] state-supported churches. Also Adam Smith's which I've been meaning to get to, tying the two of them together.

Basically, state-financed churches become lazy and dogmatic, and their congregants be damned. As well as the search for theological truth.

But for the record, Madison made the same argument against government-paid chaplains for congress and the military. I would not say I disgaree with him in principle, but he lost that round. Even until today.

And never---NEVER---confuse Madison's opposition to "ecclesiastical" [organized church] attempts to gain power in the federal government with an opposition to the idea of God. There is not a single shred of evidence in all Madison's writings to suggest that.

In fact, his letter referencing Samuel Clarke says just the opposite. Even to Madison, God was a reality, not a theory.

Madison's writings against state support of sects are often used and confused for a hostility toward religion, the Christian religion or God-ism. Simply not so.

[And if you think I'm wrong about how Madison is misused in this way, just google it. I'd write about it more often, but life is too short and I could spend the rest of my days correcting such errors.

Madison had zero problem with chaplains, he just didn't want the gov't to pay for them. He thought the various sects should. A principled and defensible position, even though it lost.]

Tom Van Dyke said...

And "divine author of our religion," again here in 1788, lends support to the argument that the phrase was commonly thought to refer to Jesus. Thx for the support of my original and actual argument, Cartwright.

Funny how nitpickings and sophistries unintentionally reinforce the real point, eh?

cartwright said...

What nitpicking are you talking about? And I never even mentioned Madison. Has anyone ever said Madison thinks God is not "real." Your responses are non sequiturs.

I brought up the quote specifically to reinforce the Jesus reference.

However, reading the OP and the comments, I still don't see what your point is, other than some kind of argument against a strawman.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Since the Puritans and others were supernaturalistically inclined in their faith, the separation of Church and State would be logical because it meant there were two kingdoms (Luther).

Therefore, the naturalist among the Founders sought to bring about a tolerant environment for these kinds of sects to function.

bpabbott said...

I think the nitpickings were intended (needed?) to clarify what may otherwise have lead to misleading or fallacious implications/conclusions.

Regarding sophistries, I recognized the implication that secularism is antagonistic to religion as one example. Another is the extension, that the founders adopted secular language due to a lack of religiousness on their part. A third is the implication that the broad language "author of our religion" was intended to have an explicit and narrow meaning.

Perhaps there are others which are not clearly visible form my vantage point.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Now, now. My comments were only to defend the argument of the original post from sophistries that seek to obliterate the meaning of every word and every term until it's all meaningless.

"Author" meant something.

"Our" meant something.

"Religion" meant something here.

Samuel Adams' quote that Christianity---"church"---meant something here, that religious freedom was protected by Christianity itself.

Don't do me like that,gentlemen. The texts, original Founding texts, support the point. They were written carefully, and we just have to read them with equal care.

bpabbott said...

Re: "My comments were only to defend the argument of the original post from sophistries that seek to obliterate the meaning of every word and every term until it's all meaningless."

I don't think it fair to assert that anyone sought to "obliterate the meaning of every word and every term until it's all meaningless".

Rather, I think the intention was to reach a better understanding for what was intended, by the use of the broad language ... And to give support for skepticism of a narrow meaning/intent, which would have necessarily excluded citizens whose religious opinions were in the minority.

In short, the broad implicit language patronizes religion (which meant some flavor of Christianity for the majority), while supporting religious freedom, for all, by guarding it from the encroachment by Ecclesiastical bodies.

This, I think, is in contrast with the conclusion "... [Jefferson] couldn't avoid using Christian arguments, and that's what got Christians to sign on the dotted line." Which appears to be in conflict with the historic record. Described by Jefferson in his comment;

"The insertion [of `Jesus Christ'] was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it's protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination."

Tom, did you mean to imply that, although the explicit language was rejected, the implicit language was necessary?

Also did you intend the language, "he couldn't avoid using Christian arguments", to imply that Jefferson would have preferred purely secular language (is this what Jefferson referred to as "some mutilations in the preamble"?)

Re: "[...] religious freedom was demanded and guaranteed by Christianity itself."

I am in complete agreement with the demanded part. It has been my long view that Jesus died for guarding his religious freedom from the encroachment by the prevailing religious authority of his day. However, pragmatically speaking, I think guaranteed is overstated, given the occasional historic examples of religious persecutions supported by various Ecclesiastical bodies.

... now that is nitpicking ;-)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

bpabbott,
I always seem to resonate with your argument, although I have appreciated what Tom and other have had to say and they have added greatly to my understanding.

But, what you say here is very true.

The question for America is how do we protect our liberties or religious freedom, when there are those who might not thing religious liberty is what faith community is about?

We have experiences as a nation violations of public trust in our military installations, and such. So how do we protect and defend without subverting the right of liberty? (I think I have said this before)..

Tom Van Dyke said...


Tom, did you mean to imply that, although the explicit language was rejected, the implicit language was necessary?


Something like that. Jefferson's account of why "Jesus Christ" was not included does not contradict that.

We still have "author of our religion."

bpabbott said...

Tom,

Thanks for clarifying .. now I get where I misunderstood you. My apologies for being obtuse.

Angie,

Thanks for the compliment. I also have an appreciation for Tom's thoughts. He and I generally agree but have nearly orthogonal vantage points. I find it quite pleasant when he and I eventually are able to clarify our understandings and (re)discover we are not so far apart.

I like your questions.

It appears to me that the founders balanced the conflict by respecting a separation between church and state. The understanding of what "church and state" meant to the founders appears to be subtly different than how many understand it today. The founders version was not antagonistic toward religion. It was intended to protect religious liberty, by (in part) guarding against religious tyranny. I think the founders had a great passion for religion and sought to jealously protect it from possible corruption by Ecclesiastical authorities.

I don't see why the same ideology can't work for us today.

If we are to give up some liberty, I think a necessary part will be regarding our privacy (full body scans, public video surveillance, etc). However, these events don't encroach upon liberties that are enumerated by our constitution. So if the law is to me amended, it can be done by reinterpreting the words under a new context.

In 1995 a well respected and senior colleague of mine made a comment about the rising terrorism in the world that resonated with me then and does even more so today (largely because it appears so prophetic). He said (to the best of my memory); "We should not sacrifice our liberty for our safety. We should sacrifice the liberty of the terrorists."

King of Ireland said...

"We should not sacrifice our liberty for our safety. We should sacrifice the liberty of the terrorists."

Dangerous statement and one that underlines the need for rights to be inalienable. The founders we praise and discuss as heroes on this site were the "terrorists" back then. Labeling is the first step to enslavement:

"They came for the trade unionists and I was not one of them so I did not stand up. They came for the Catholics and I was a Protestant so I did not stand up. They came for the Jews and I was not a Jew so I did not stand up. They came for me and no one was left to stand up."

I butchered it some by I think we all know the quote and the spirit behind it. I hope we never forget what gives weight to these words and live to see history repeated in the name of fighting "terror". Nero did it to the early Christians too.

King/Joe

bpabbott said...

Re: "Dangerous statement and one that underlines the need for rights to be inalienable."

In the state we each reside, criminals lose the protections of liberty embodied by the 2nd, and 4th Amendments, and my very well lose their lives.

To give a different perspective, I ask; Why should terrorists be privileged with a more lenient system of justice?

Consider a rewording of the quote above ...

"[The terrorists] came for the trade unionists and I was not one of them so I did not stand up. [The terrorists] came for the Catholics and I was a Protestant so I did not stand up. [The terrorists] came for the Jews and I was not a Jew so I did not stand up. [The terrorists] came for me and no one was left to stand up."

The problem is how to determine who is a terrorist. I prefer this be accomplished in the courts. Acts of terror should be treated as criminal acts. The accused terrorists should be convicted in a court of law or released to their home land.

I'm also a firm believer that torture is counter productive and should not be used on the innocent or the convicted. While torture in a combat situation may be pragmatically unavoidable, any information provided should not be used against an individual during trial (I'm firmly against the use of torture to secure a conviction, but less firm if it is employed to secure lives).

Kristo Miettinen said...

Tom, great post.

I'm gradually finding out what I've been missing around here, and this is good stuff.

One quibble, totally immaterial to your larger point: you seem to be reading Sam Adams as crediting Locke with bringing religious toleration to Christianity; I think Adams is merely pointing out that Locke gave a demonstration (likely well-known to his readers) of why that toleration which in America had come to be taken for granted among Christians (broadly construed) should also be extended to all (ir)religions.

The demonstration may have been original to Locke, and Adams may have been overlooking precedents, but for my money the decisive presentation of this argument (for the course of evolving American Christianity and polity) was made by Roger Williams, both for tolerance among Christians and for tolerance toward other religions (the only other religion Williams explicitly discussed was Judaism, but his argument is applicable to all non-Christians).