General Question

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Do you think that politics has more of an effect on religion than religion does on politics?

Asked by The_Compassionate_Heretic (14611points) April 18th, 2009

Politics and religion seems to have become inextricably linked in today’s society but which has the real power?

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7 Answers

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’m hopelessly out of touch because I’ve assumed for most of my life that everyone is like me and non religious but then I see polls and statistics of Americans being mostly Christian so that’s where the core beliefs, money and focus will stem from, I suppose.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence There is that region of America they call the Bible Belt and they turn out for elections in droves.

bea2345's avatar

as soon as religion becomes part of the power structure, the question of who affects whom becomes moot. I wonder if that is what Christ meant when He said, “Render unto Caesar…” Give service to your God, but you owe a duty to your country’s leaders. Politics happens when 2 or more people are communicating, irrespective of the subject, and it is to be expected that morals/ethics/religious belief will seriously influence the discourse.

Harp's avatar

Religion has far more influence on politics than vice versa. Churches are in a position to exert tremendous pressure on members to vote their religious beliefs. We’re constantly hearing religious leaders make public statements to the effect that true believers could never vote for a politician who supports such-an-such policy. That’s potent stuff when people think their salvation hangs in the balance.

Politicians, on the other hand, are forced to walk on eggs when dealing with issues impacting religion.

Qingu's avatar

It’s impossible to answer. I don’t believe politics and religion are even separate things usually. The “separation between church and state” is a recent concept only accepted by people in Western countries (and not even all Westerners accept it.)

Most Muslims believe their religion is their political system. For example, the Quran is the constitution of Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both countries have mutawwa’in, religious police, and a court system controlled by religious authorities. In Iran, the supreme leader is a religious authority.

We Westerners look down on such theocracies as barbaric (or unprogressive or whatever). But in reality, Europe was ruled by a theocracy for a thousand and a half years—the Catholic Church. Both the Quran and the Bible are largely political documents. They lay forth a system of social and economic laws, which is why it’s not surprising that for most of Islamic and Christian history these laws formed the basis of society and the justice system.

Ancient Israel was a total theocracy. In Rome and Greece, religion had some separation from public life, but not as much as Western religion does—emperors were divine. Other religions were tolerated, much like the Muslims later did in their empire, but such religions were heavily regulated and needed to be subservient to the state religion. I believe religious laws were also strongly linked to the political structure of India for most of its history.

Furthermore, I think the only reason the “separation between church and state” seems so significant in Western culture is, quite simply, because most Jews and Christians nowadays don’t really give a shit about their religion. The Bible is hardly a basis for morality for adherents of either religion, except for the fundamentalists. Unsurprisingly, fundamentalists want a government that more resembles a theocracy.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Qingu, great answer, as usual. You never cease to amaze me, and your presence on Fluther is a godsend (so to speak).

I do want to add that recent events have shown what religion can do to politics, at least indirectly. The Republican party became the Christian party over the last couple of decades, and then of course (as it always does) the pendulum swung the other way. Remember the line-up of Republican hopefuls for the nomination? How many of them were outspoken religionists? Yet, the guy who got the nod was a moderate Republican with no outspoken religious beliefs. A guy most Christian Republicans weren’t ready to vote for, a man by the name of McCain. He is a Christian, but he doesn’t seem willing to shove it down your throat, not like Mr. Huckabee did. (How silly do the words President Huckabee sound?)

Some of the more hard core conservatives threatened to vote for Obama when McCain got the nomination, which struck me as ironically funny. Nowadays, the Republican party is pretty much a joke, and doesn’t seem to have the power it once did. I blame that on the Christian fundamentalist detour the party took for awhile.

While religion and politics are heavily influencial on each other, I think that they are also detrimental to each other, given when one or the other makes demands the other cannot uphold.

And yeah, the fact that the fundamentalists, especially those that call themselves Christian Reconstructionists, want to remake this country into a theocracy, only goes to prove how fucked up the thinking of some folks is. Fortunately, those nutjobs are a minority of Christians.

wundayatta's avatar

They are linked because they really are pretty much the same thing. Think about any aspect of religion, and then think about political entities—you’ll find there’s usually an analogy. In the past, there was no difference between politics and religion. The difference in some nations now is pretty much a “the emperor has no clothes” kind of thing. They each have an equal influence on the other. There’s no separating them, really.

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