Social Utopias: Will Saada Fall 2015

October 18, 2015

Response Paper 5

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 3:30 pm


By reading the source, Two Swords; Heresy and Just War, in which Thomas Moore defends the use of violence to fight against Heresy, we can better understand religion in Utopia.  First we gain a better understanding of the time period in which violence caused by relgion was very prevalent.  While Hythloday is discussing religion in Utopia he writes, “It is one of their oldest policies that no one should come to any harm because of their religion” (Moore 118).  In Utopia if someone hurts another citizen because of religion he will likely be banished.  The source gives us a background of the time period which helps us understand the importance of this law.  Moore lived in a time where many people were harmed and even killed because of their religion.  In the article heretics have resorted to violence against Christians and Moore believes they must be punished with violence.  But in Utopia he sees this cycle of violence and makes sure that can not occur in a just society.  In Utopia the punishments for fighting over religion seem very harsh but it makes sense based on the religious conflict at the time.

In Utopia the idea comes up that the the less holy religions would be “choked like grain” by worse people.  When war and religion meet it is likely that the worse religions come out on top.  Thus, the religions that are not as virtuous will come out on top.  Conversely, in a society like Utopia where people can believe whatever they like and are not pressured to follow any religion the best and holiest religion will thrive.  It seems contradictory that he is justifying the use of violence but in utopia any sort of violence relating to religion is severely punished.  However, his argument is that the use of violence is necessary in the current society.  If they just accept the violence of heretics eventually Christianity will suffer.  Because the heretics are using violence then it is okay for them to use violence as well.  In an ideal society, like Utopia, there would be no initial violence.  The utopians made sure that no one could fight over religion foreseeing the effect it would have on religion; the worse ones would win out.  To counter this in Moore’s time he believed they must use violence as well to contain the heretics.  This law is vital to a utopian society to ensure that religion does not result in death and controversy like it had been during the 16th century.


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