Comparative Religion and Politics
Comparative Religion and Politics:
The act of worshipping a supreme or spiritual being is known as religion - Comparative Religion and Politics introduction. Religion is connected with instilling essential moral character in a person’s life as well as generating a peaceful environment for human existence. Apart from this, religion also plays an important role in the governance of a nation. There has been a dramatic global rebirth of religious movements with the majority being fundamentalist movements in the recent decades. This has caught many people by surprise because they expected a continuous global trend toward the secularization and privatization of religion. Contrary to the practice of many Western nations, it is deceptive to treat religion as a separate entity from other aspects of society and politics (Juergensmeyer 2003).
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Though many religious movements in existence today may appear like secular movements on the surface, they however demonstrate obvious religious characteristics. In the study of comparative politics the difference between religion and politics offers an important focus. The task of comparative political analysis is enhanced by certain religious traditions which may be the source of cross-national identity and identification. Most importantly, religion can either serve the public purpose of being the cause of social cohesion and public legitimacy or the source of regime opposition.
In India, a country with all major religions in the world, Hinduism is the dominant religion while Islam is the main religious minority. As a matter of fact, more than 82% of India’s population is Hindus with close to 12% being Muslims who outnumber a combined 2% population of Christians and Sikhs. As compared to Japan, religion has been a source of political conflict due a number of reasons which include:
Foundation of the Nation:
Throughout its history, religion has been a source of political conflict in India because of India of the partitioning of the nation into two religious lines i.e. a Hindu majority and a Muslim minority in1947. Due to the fact that the Hindu majority intimidated many Indian minority communities particularly Muslims, the Muslim population demanded for the creation of a separate and independent Islamic state. This made the relationship between these two people groups difficult and competitive. On the contrary, the relationship between Japan’s two major religions, Buddhism and Shinto is characterized by cooperation instead of competition.
Consequently, the religious difference has led to the formation of religious parties which have risen to power a various intervals. An example of the political conflict is when Hindu Muslims lost most of their political leaders to Pakistan which made the Indian Muslims to advocate for the preservation of Muslim Personal Law and some aspects of Muslim religion culture. This demand was however unacceptable by the Hinduism supporters and resulted in a political conflict.
Unlike India, the existence of Buddhism and Shinto provides a means in which religious pluralism does not lead to political conflict due to theological flexibility and mutability. This theological flexibility enables different religions to live in peaceful co-existence and does not give a chance of higher levels of religious participation. On the contrary, the presence of multiple religions in India does increases religious discrimination and political boldness of the religious bodies (Jelen and Wilcox 2002).
In conclusion, the most important variables accounting for differences in religious politics between these two countries is that in Japan, unlike India, the constitution contains two articles concerning religion and its influence on political governance. First, unlike India, which is divided into two major religious lines, the Japanese constitution guarantees freedom of worship for all citizens while forbidding any religious groups from getting special privileges from the State as well as from exercising political influence. Secondly, the Japanese constitution also prohibits the use of public funds or finances for any religious organization or activities. Basically, there is a separation of State and religion in Japan as compared to India.
Jelen T G and Wilcox C (2002). Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective. Retrieved
May 6, 2010 from http://books.google.com/books?id=6HFq0eyEK4QC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Ted+G.+Jelen+and+Clyde+Wilcox+Religion+and+Politics+in+Comparative+Perspective&source=bl&ots=ZkG9U76Eay&sig=jYlJgo4ZalQUH7sZn5mO9FX_H24&hl=en&ei=RASfS7_-NJLcM4-lnOsM&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
Juergensmeyer M (2003). Global Religions: An Introduction. Retrieved May 6, 2010 from