A Forgotten Champion of Religious Liberty

Source: Law & Liberty
by Joseph Loconte

“At the start of Europe’s wars of religion, a Dutch playwright advanced what was arguably the most visionary defense of freedom of conscience ever to appear during the first 1500 years of Christianity. Dirck Coornhert, a patriot involved in the Dutch revolt against Spain, published Synod on the Freedom of Conscience (1582), a rebuke to both Protestant and Catholic belligerents in light of the moral demands of the gospel. Though rejected in his own day, Coornhert’s even-handed criticism of the intolerant policies of fellow believers would inspire the political outlook of John Locke and, eventually, the American Founders. In our own age of bitter partisanship, Coornhert’s Synod recalls the virtues necessary for a unified and just political order.” (09/16/22)