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SeventhSense's avatar

What do you think of religious people who use religion to politicize?

Asked by SeventhSense (18874points) April 14th, 2010

We’ve all seen the basis of religion used to promote an agenda whether it be The Crusades, the Jihad or abortion, gay rights, Creationism or “family values” etc. How ethical is this? How moral is this? How dangerous is this? How religious is this?

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65 Answers

tranquilsea's avatar

I guess it depends on what side of the fence you stand on. When Christians stand against abortion, gay rights etc. they are usually doing so because they take scripture literally. They certainly believe that they are being moral, more moral than people who are for gay rights, abortion etc. Ditto ethics.

As to how religious it is…I would say very.

It becomes dangerous when no new information is taken in nor accepted as being true. We have masses of information/research/knowledge that was just not available when the Bible was being written. When people close themselves off, only excepting dogma from centuries ago…it is bound to cause conflict, especially when their view is “I’m right and you’re wrong and you must convert to my way of thinking”.

That being said, I have know many open minded Christians and Muslims. It is the fundamentalists in both religions that give their faiths a bad name.

Ponderer983's avatar

In the US it’s illegal…separation of church and state. Too bad we can’t keep to that motto.

Haleth's avatar

That seems like it would go against the values of most religions… it’s pretty self-serving.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Haleth
Exactly. This is the aspect which I find maddening. If the ends justify the means there is really no end to what unconscionable acts can be committed in the name of a cause.

thriftymaid's avatar

A person’s belief system is part of who they are and may be visible in the policies they support.

Trillian's avatar

I don’t think you can classify what “Christians” do as religious in the sense that this is not what Jesus taught. He never said that Christians are to force their standards of living on others. A Christian is supposed to set an example by living a godly life. They are in no way supposed to try and be God’s police force and tell others how to live. This is directly against scripture. Those laws and standards of living in the New testament are for Christians. You cannot expect the ungodly to live a godly life. It saddens me greatly to see and hear what people do in the name of Christianity. It is uninformed and counter-productive. It certainly gives Christianity a bad name.
I picture God up there moaning and pulling his hair out like Richard Lewis: “Oooohhhh, this is so not what I told these people!!”

Nullo's avatar

Faith and politics are inextricably intertwined, each one affecting the other. Holding true to religious convictions will almost certainly have political ramifications. Especially in a vox-populi setting.

@Ponderer983 SOCAS is BS.

SeventhSense's avatar

@thriftymaid
At what point does support become ignorance, intolerance, indifference and ultimately hateful defying the religion’s first cause?

SeventhSense's avatar

Why did almost all religious founders act outside of the realm of politics or were a passive resistance to that order?

thriftymaid's avatar

@SeventhSense Anyone’s support of a policy can be over the top; it’s always personal whether it’s religion or the person’s life experience. I don’t see where beliefs would push it to that point anymore than another aspect of the person’s experience and philosophy. “At what point” is a question with no answer, as it is subjective. You may think a person’s passion for a cause is over the top when I may not.

earthduzt's avatar

This is why I personally don’t believe in modern day religions. They all seem very hypocritical and go against the very things they supposedly teach. Back during the so called “pagan religions” they believed more in astrotheology the Gods representing objects (the Sun, Planets, Stars) in the heavens. Then the modern religions came and forged the “new ones” from the old, adding and subtracting to suit their needs and agendas. Personifying the heavily bodies with human characteristics. During great times of suffering and strife, plague and death these leaders preyed upon the weak and scared and now are able to convince the people to follow them and renounce all older forms of religion. The leaders now putting the “Fear of God” into people are able to manipulate the will of the people and carry out their agendas in the name of “Divine Justice” killing, torturing, massacring those that did not follow their “my way is the right way” belief system. To me organized religion is a form of control and pursuit of greed (whether it be for money, power, politics, territory) and it can justify the murder and mayhem of those that oppose them all in the name of Divine Justice. Again this is my view on organized religion.

anartist's avatar

Ahhh How could you not have admired the Berrigans?

SeventhSense's avatar

@thriftymaid
No it’s not always personal and the aspect which is public is what I’m driving at. There comes a point where the damage to the collective good is greater than the individual gain.

SeventhSense's avatar

Anybody catch Huckabee’s comments today likening gay rights to incest? Why is this given a public forum?

Nullo's avatar

@SeventhSense Because there’s an audience.
I agree, by the way. All of them are variations on sexual immorality.

@Trillian Maybe you remember a bit of the New Testament where Jesus storms the Temple and throws out the merchants and moneychangers? Their presence wasn’t illegal, but it was a perversion of God’s design.
Porting Christianity over to a republic merely amplified the number of things that the followers of Christ can affect.

jazmina88's avatar

It is so wrong. The mindless masses will listen to their leaders and follow them, without question.

There should be the separation of church and state. so the church should not get so involved in politics.

ETpro's avatar

I like the fact our Founding Fathers chose to to make the USA a nation founded on freedom of and from religion. I don’t want anyone, no matter how moral they may think themselves to be, telling me what I have to believe and what I cannot believe. I don’t want to tell anyone else what they must and must not believe either, save this. Start trying to dictate your religion to me, and you are going to have a fight. And it doesn’t matter what that religion might be.

It is sad to note that while some of the early American Colonies were established by people running from religious persecution in Europe, the moment they got the upper hand here they began labeling anyone with differing beliefs heretics, burning witches, branding women with scarlet letters and generally being bigger religious bigots than the people they came here to escape. It is also worth noting that the Colonies established to further one religion to the exclusion of the others were widely viewed as disaster zones by the other colonists, and that is why so many of the Founding Fathers insisted on the separation fo church and state.

Factotum's avatar

‘Separation of Church and State’ was designed to prevent the government from establishing a religion or favoring an existing religion in the mode of the C of E.

It is contrary to the intentions of the writers of the Constitution to forbid pastors their freedom of speech even in their church setting. I say this as an atheist btw.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a member of the clergy telling people that Candidate X supports things that are not in their best interests. The state has no business muzzling anyone. Ever.

gorillapaws's avatar

The times when the Church has ruled politically have been really wonderful… the dark ages, the inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the Taliban, crazy mormon compounds with polygamous child brides, cults, African witch trials.

@Factotum nothing wrong at all, unless they try to claim tax-exemption status as a non-political charity.

apathyismysin's avatar

To answer, ethical to them, moral to them, very religious. Where in the Bible, Koran does it say you can’t rule a country (i think it tends to Encourage it actually). And why not try and take a country for your God, what’s so wrong with that? I don’t believe anymore, but I never understood why believers in my faith would always swear up and down “o I wouldn’t bring my religion into politics if i were president”, but if you really believe wouldn’t a nation for God be your paradise?

Nullo's avatar

@ETpro
…from religion

Except that they didn’t.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Nullo ”...make no law respecting an establishment of religion” pretty clear to me. Especially if you read the historical documents of the time to understand the context. They wanted the state and the church to be COMPLETELY separate. The founding father’s were DEISTS not biblical fundamentalists.

Government shouldn’t step on the toes of any religion, and vice/versa. That’s what the core philosophy with respect to the separation of Church and State in America has always been.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I think Jesus would be troubled by religion mixing with government. I think Jesus would be troubled by religion in general.

Factotum's avatar

@gorillapaws Actually some of the FFs were Deists and some were pretty standard Protestant types. All were comfortable enough with religion that they started their meetings with prayers.

Growing up I used to have conniptions at the notion of religion and politics mixing but I now see it as inevitable. The difference is that people who don’t have a religion think that their notions of right and wrong and where the law should step in are somehow ‘cleaner’ than the ideas of people from an organized religion.

There is really nothing to support this belief.

With regard to churches being tax-exempt because they are non-political charities – that is not why they are tax-exempt. They are tax exempt because they are churches – which have been exempt since before the founding.

ETpro's avatar

@Factotum Nothing to support that belief, if you exempt the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, Religious Persecution, the Witch Trials, incarceration and torture for heresy, the Taliban, and a few other minor divergences.We are chartered as a secular nation that respects ALL religions and also the right to have no religion if you so choose. There are plenty of places brimming with religious intolerance for those who can’t get along without a big brother to enforce lockstep worship of whatever deity they revere.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Hey @ETproYou left out Jones Town, Branch Dividians, and Heavens Gate.

ETpro's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Those are the minor divergences. :-)

zophu's avatar

Politics is a science. Would you accept a medical doctor that tries to heal people with prayer and ritualistic sacrifice instead of medicine?

Factotum's avatar

@ETpro I am speaking of Americans here. Yes, of course religions have been involved in evil. So have all sorts of other kinds of organizations, most notably Communist ones. Regardless, each American has the right to vote and the right to speak.

@zophu There is a science for the study of politics but politics itself is not a science. For that matter, there is a science for the study of religion.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Factotum “There is really nothing to support this belief.”

How about the entire academic discipline of modern philosophy, ethics, moral theory, social contract theory, and meta-ethics. These are founded upon reason, not the edicts of a self-proclaimed holyman.

Oh, and if churches are going to become political campaign engines, then you’re reducing the ability of non-religious people to contribute to the political process (since their contributions are taxable and therefore smaller), thereby biasing the entire electorate in favor of any religious agenda… Not cool.

Factotum's avatar

In no way do I support churches becoming campaign engines. The reverse however, muzzling American citizens, is something I also cannot support.

Many religious people are also believers in much, if not all of your academic discipline line-up, while many non-religious people are not especially informed by such disciplines.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Factotum Nobody is being “muzzled.” A preacher is free to his own beliefs and can make them clear at non-official functions, but if the church is going to be treated as a special entity for tax purposes then it needs to behave as all other such charities do, otherwise they’re getting an unfair political advantage.

For example, there are certain tax-exempt non-profit environmental organizations who cannot publicly endorse a candidate, but they’re not “muzzled” in terms of not being able to express their freedom of speech when outside their official roles.

It is also my understanding that if a church wants to forgo their tax-exemption status they can make whatever political endorsements they please. It’s all about giving everyone equal political access.

mattbrowne's avatar

Religious opinions should be treated as opinions among many in a pluralistic society. Same for opinions from atheists, mercantilists, animal rights activists, vegans, ecologists or open source activists.

anartist's avatar

[continuing from the Berrigans] And John Paul II, who marched with Lech Walesa? I think when religious get involved in civil rights, anti-war, and independence issues, they do it from the heart of who they are as men or women, informed by their faith. Yes the pope carries a bit more clout than others, but he is also a man.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Nullo
Show me one incidence where Jesus lashed out against the “sexually immoral”.
Among his most beloved followers were prostitutes and tax collectors.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Factotum
No one is proposing a law to
forbid pastors their freedom of speech even in their church setting

Factotum's avatar

@SeventhSense No indeed. The laws in question would merely strip a too-outspoken pastor of the church setting in which to have his freedom of speech.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Factotum not if he were willing to forgo, tax exemption status.

Factotum's avatar

@gorillapaws After-the-fact penalties are an assault on free speech.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Factotum so you think it’s ok for political non-profits to also receive tax exemption status?

wonderingwhy's avatar

What’s the difference between a catholic (or any deist) saying “you shall not kill” and an atheist saying “you shall not kill”?
In the first case the justification, in too many cases, ends at “it’s god’s will” or some derivation thereof. In the second, for however flawed it may be, the justification is based on reasoning. The first requires you to have faith, and I can’t tell you how many arguments I’ve had with local religious figures where that’s their final statement. The second allows you to disagree and challenge the validity of the statement. The first encourages you to believe, the second to think and judge continually.

This becomes very dangerous when you have a class structure. Anyone can argue in the second case, reason and thought are not restricted by class or privilege (though granted, their accessibility and reach may be). And if you are open to reason then being wrong is nothing more than seeing the greater logic of your opponents argument. But in the first case, you are led. As the leaders of your faith interpret the words, writings, and laws you follow so must you adopt their interpretation or risk being exiled. Those interpretations are combined with the leaders motives (there’s your politicizing religion – I need votes, I’ll appeal to my [fill in the religion] brethren by pitching how strongly I’ll defend our core beliefs against non-belivers; though sadly it seems everyone does this religious or not) are part of the reason there are so many divisions of faith, including extremists.

SeventhSense's avatar

@wonderingwhy
Well humans in any organization or under any umbrella or social structure have the capacity for evil. On the one hand there are those amongst the religious who have more thought than fear of God or God’s will and likewise Atheists who would not kill based on a certain sense of conscience beyond the pragmatic or divine. Both camps have the potential for great harm or good. For example, a Fascist world view could be viewed as equally expedient for genocide/suicide in either camp given the right set of parameters.

mattbrowne's avatar

@SeventhSense – I agree. I’m quite certain Jesus would endorse gay marriage.

SeventhSense's avatar

@mattbrowne
I’ll probably catch hell for this but is it that unfathomable that among the 12 single men that followed him could not a couple have been more than affectionate?

mattbrowne's avatar

@SeventhSense – Well, 12 are recorded in the Bible. I think he had more followers and many were women. I think it’s quite likely a few of his followers were gay. Jesus himself doesn’t seem to have spoken out against gays. Paul did. Paul also hated science. The apostles were diverse and very human.

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne I think it is important to note also that Paul was not a follower of Jesus. He was busy hunting down and jailing the new sect of followers after the crucifixion when he reported having an epiphany.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ETpro – Yes, he wasn’t. Not everything Paul said and did is bad, though. Therefore when reading the Bible we should never switch off our critical thinking capabilities. ‘Higher criticism’ was invented as an academic field in the Netherlands and Germany for this very reason. Erasmus was a Dutch Renaissance humanist and a Catholic priest and theologian for example.

Factotum's avatar

@gorillapaws Of course not. Nor would I extend the tax-exempt status to a newly minted ‘First Church of Republican Fund-raising’.

But a zero-tolerance position on political speech in churches was never the intent of the framers of the Constitution nor is it supported by the Constitution.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Factotum so you think religious organizations should have a political advantage? You can’t make 1 + 1 + 1 add up to 2. What you’re saying is that people who donate to church will have their voices heard louder than those who don’t.

I guess I don’t see why it’s ok to lock down the political speech of non-religious groups, but not the religious ones.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Factotum
No one is proposing any restrictions on freedom of speech in a church or a public venue for that matter. We even allow Nazis to march in America. Politicizing religion and denying people’s basic rights in the society at large is in fact a violation of others rights. There is a clever and twisted approach to “religious rights” that claims religious tolerance is challenged when in fact the intolerance of dogma is what is being challenged. I can not be said to have my rights curtailed when I believe it’s my right to discriminate against others.

For example it is not “my right” to deny someone housing based upon race, religion, creed or age. Likewise it is not “my right” to deny the freedom of access someone has to an abortion or an education that is based on sound scientific theory devoid of any agenda.

Factotum's avatar

@gorillapaws I think that the rights are spelled out in the Constitution and that in rare circumstances religious organizations could have a small political advantage. I’ve not seen it happen yet but in theory it could. And I’m ok with that, until such time as it becomes a BIG political advantage at which point I’m fine with shutting down the tax-exempt status of a church that is no longer a church.

@SeventhSense You’ve moved on to a whole ‘nother topic here. I’m not inclined to argue it on this thread.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Factotum you do realize that a little advantage from a lot of churches adds up to a big advantage right? And also, who then has to police such a fuzzy line. Are people going to turn in their preacher because he crossed a line that’s no-longer well defined? Are we going to need tons of supreme court rulings to figure out what the standards are?

Such a policy invites abuse, inconsistency, and inequality. Especially when elections can be decided by narrow margins, what you propose has the potential to radically alter the political climate of the US. Churches are better places when they remain apolitical. And those that want to politicize themselves, can and should (but no longer receive the special tax privileges of those that don’t).

SeventhSense's avatar

@Factotum
You brought it up. I just called you on the carpet.

Ria777's avatar

@SeventhSense: What do you think of religious people who use religion to politicize?

like Martin Luther King?

Factotum's avatar

@gorillapaws What we are disagreeing about is the proper level of political discourse within a church setting. You seem to be saying ‘none’ and I maintain that it should be ‘some but certainly not a whole lot’. As for it being a major advantage when churches are ‘allowed’ to have first amendment rights within their walls I would point to our early history when such things could be spoken about freely – indeed there was no place else in which to gather any significant number of people. We did not have a theocracy then and we wouldn’t now. Christ, very few people even go to church these days.

@SeventhSense I didn’t introduce a new topic. You did. As I said, I may be willing to discuss it on its own thread but I’m not going to do it here. Enjoy your carpet, I ain’t accepting your invitation.

mattbrowne's avatar

Keep in mind, Obama is religious too. But he keeps this separate from politics. He explains this in his book ‘The Audacity of Hope’.

Factotum's avatar

@mattbrowne It is not possible for Obama to have kept religion and politics separate while attending Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright Jr’s church as the Reverend demonstrably was incapable of separating the two.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Factotum In “our early history when such things could be spoken about freely” that you are so fond of brining up, there weren’t tax exemption laws which is why we have the standard we have today. Who would police this fuzzy-line standard by the way? Should we have undercover IRS agents posing as churchgoers who are making that call, the FBI? How do we draw that line in the sand? Are churchgoers going to turn in their preachers for violations, thereby costing themselves lots of money since their donations will now be taxable?

The point you keep forgetting is that CHURCHES HAVE THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT TO SPEECH!!! All charities that want to be tax-exempt must follow certain guidelines and churches are no exception. You seem to be arguing that churches are entitled to extra benefits under statute… EXCEPT that there’s the Constitution that says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” What you’re proposing is unconstitutional.

Factotum's avatar

@gorillapaws Churches were not taxed in America long before they were lumped in with non-church charitable NGOs. I maintain that this was correct according to the founders and it remains correct today.

Churches are not simply charities. If they were the first amendment would have said ‘charities’.

As for the ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,’ you left out, ‘or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ That second part is the basis for not taxing churches, but non-taxing of churches goes much farther back than the birth of the United States.

You mention policing a fuzzy-line standard as if I am inventing the fuzzy line. I am instead suggesting that the current fuzzy line is not in the right area, having been wrongly moved in 1954.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Factotum – Well, as persons we can’t keep our thoughts and feelings separate. This applies to Obama as well. What I meant was he doesn’t invoke God having told him to do this and that. He made it very clear that he views himself as a leader of a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, followers of other religions as well as atheists.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Factotum ”...that the current fuzzy line…” the current line isn’t fuzzy; it’s very black and white and is the same that all other NGO’s follow. You STILL haven’t explained how your proposal would be enforced.

Prohibiting the free exercise doesn’t apply to non-religious activities. Political commentary isn’t a religious activity any more than burning witches at the stake is.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Ria777
No hardly. Unless you feel the right to be free in society and passively resist violence is somehow a dangerous religious motive.

Jabe73's avatar

Our country was founded by men that had a theist view, they were deist. Organized religion is really for the most part a money making cult that use their political influence to keep the game going. In reality, most organized religion preaches a very different gospel from what Jesus really taught. Ironically they attack each other as well.

As futile as it may seem, i think people are GRADUALLY getting smarter to this and learning facts for themselves. Truth will always prevail eventually, even if it seems like an eternity. “If you don’t vote republican you are a sinner”, that statement used to piss me off now i just laugh at it. Ironically, when the republican party first formed and in its early days it was more similar to liberal democrat today (some differences) than conservative republican today. Thank the Jerry Falwell religion of greed, politics, money and power all mixed in with a twisted version of Christianity for that. I consider myself a more consevative libertarian who does find a hard time choosing between 2 evils all the time when i vote.

My favorite quote of all time and definitely applies here “beware of the power of stupid people in large groups”.

robertbrownell's avatar

A religion is just a World View. Everyone has a world view, including Athiests.

So why is it bad if Christians enter politics with their world view? But not bad, it Athiests enter politics with their world view.

My Christian World view, puts me at odds with slavery, corruption, polygamy, tyranny, etc. It’s good if people enter politics with a moral world view.

ETpro's avatar

@robertbrownell I don’t believe it is bad for a Christian to enter public life any more that for a Buddhist or Atheist to do so. But why does your Christian heritage put you at odds with slavery, polygamy and tyranny? All those were commanded of God’s people in the Old Testament. And the new testament tells us that not one jot or tittle of the Law shall pass away till the day of judgment.

Corruption is hard to define. Lots of things I find corrupt, like grabbing other people’s lands and bashing their children’s heads on rocks seem corrupt to me. Letting adulterers stone other adulterers to death because they were unfortunate enough to get caught, that seems corrupt to me. But corruption is pretty subjective. Maybe deeply religious people find those thing the essence of clean living—not corrupt at all.

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