Should religion and politics be kept separated? In a wider sphere, considering the world at large, it is quite an overwhelming task to differentiate, analyze and then determine all the mystifying debate over how religion and politics interlink and vary. Countless scholars over the past decades tried to tackle all the ‘complications’ that hinder a curious one to understand the dynamics of politics and religion hand in hand.
However, these grand debates can be humbly narrowed down to few regions and religions to set a standard estimation of a sheer sketch outlining the common phenomena of such an ever-perplexing argument. Through research and publications, answers to lingering questions regarding this issue can be expected to be found (Warhust, 2007). Western Europe, America, Japan and China host few of the prominent leading governments that can be taken in to account which perfectly exemplify the twists and turns a nation endures in search of balance between politics and religion.
Western European ideology in terms of ruling power and influence of religion claims to be a completely separate proponent in politics than American ideology. Distinctively different presidents from John F. Kennedy to Thomas Jefferson to George W. Bush successfully have structured the present political profile of the United States over the past decades. From the time of John F. Kennedy denying to follow direct orders from the Vatican City to the time of Barrack Obama, America took a stand to establish a solid platform for fair democracy.
However, at the same time, America’s faith gained more political power intriguingly more because of the muscle of The Republican Party. Western Europe, on the other hand, had claimed itself as the first-born of secularism despite its only recent fall of supremacy and control of church. Secularism found to be the most logical solution in affirming the continuation of the integrity of its faith, digs deeper into the matter of democracy’s compatibility with religion.
A religious state can never be open to negotiation and compromise for the greater mutual understanding among the mass which democracy is all about, as that in turn conflicts with its notion of setting forth strict rules and regulations via the government in terms of ruling a nation. Therefore, a democratic state fights to form a definite separation between the church and the state. In fact, this ideology is what that has been immensely maintained in the form of constitution in most of the United States and the Western Europe.
A recent throbbing issue that has been raising much of world’s debate regarding this matter is the influence of the Muslim-society in terms of governance in Western Europe. Devout Muslims always opt to follow a lifestyle that may still be seen as orthodox in the eyes of the world, but that also remains to be the case for any other clan of people such as pious Jews, Christians, Hindus or Buddhists. Nevertheless, that seems irrelevant as the root of debate here is what to do with the growing number of Muslims in concentrated areas of Western Europe?
From another angle, Asian ideology: at the time of adaption in the form of governance in regions known as the birthplace of Confucian politics, superior spirituality and religious tradition, was always respected by the West. In the end a conclusion which supports restricting religious views merely as guidelines to live serenely and affectionately could be drawn, at the same time respecting all human rights and taking ethical notions into account in terms of political rule (Motzkin and Fischer, 2008). There is much more to this argument than a one-line straightforward answer.
To comprehend this matter at full length, one must dwell into the doors of the surging socio-political phenomenon taking place particularly in Western Europe. Centuries ago immigration was just a simple concept taken on by massive initiators in search of a better standard of living and quality of life has been made into an ongoing epidemic, which in turn has already uprooted the authenticity of identification of several tribes and races. In the 21st century, America, Europe, Australia and other parts of the world sustain an outrageous blend of races of people.
This particular blend has reached such an extraordinary point that cultural and religious identity has become a matter of clarification over exhausting debate. The geographical and cultural distinction of people needs to be revised and re-considered before recording it in the pages of history. One of the most appropriate examples has to be the staggeringly increasing number of Muslim residents in Europe. This particular change in composition of locals in Europe, alone defines the intense, constant change in nationalities all over the world.
However, the point to be noted here is not about the geographical shift of races and ethnicities around the world rather it is about the change of the constitution of states in question, which this ancient wave of immigration demands. Referring to the fast growth of Muslims in Europe, which in turn is the cause of tension between Muslim and non-Muslim concentrated communities in Europe, a mutual agreement, has to be negotiated. The ban of traditional religious symbols of Muslim women called ‘hijab’ or ‘bourkha’ in parts of Europe, spurred vigorous debate over this issue and helped to emerge a whole new perspective to it.
This obvious debate must not be misinterpreted and fueled by racism; instead the cultural differences must be incorporated in terms of constitutional preamble which respects all religions and its particular beliefs. In a recent conference about ‘Religion and Democracy’ at Jerusalem in 2007, Reinvan Gendt clearly explained in bold statements how this diversity calls for a revised law of constitution which can support the sustainability of the current and the future generations of Europe. Secular state and open society’ is a new ideology discussed at the conference by Reinvan Gendt, this gives a logically sound solution to the dilemma between the degree of interference of religion and politics. It states that governing bodies must mean separation between state and church all the while allowing religion to influence not only private life but also public life. It will be a new form of democracy where the cultural similarity must be based on respect and recognition of its open diversity (Enns, 2010).
However, as much as logic and sense persist in the name of reasonability to keep religion and politics apart and at the same time to build a re-defined constitution in support of the diverse cultures constantly forming in concentrated parts of the world, it can also be argued that religion in fact is a vital part in formation of a global civil society. Jurgen Habermas, a renowned German sociologist, emphasizes on the significant development of globalized society in his scholarly publication.
A globalized civil society is in fact what the puzzling debate over the future status of governing administrative in the world at large needs to be resolved. The surge of new demand to formulate state laws to sustain the existence of intensely diverse communities under the shed of one national flag could be addressed as the need to develop a global civil society. One phenomenon that can exemplify such a global civil society in perfect proportions is the recent Olympics held in China.
Through such globalized event, sportsmanship and fair play were displayed along with debate over its environment and human rights, all independent of the national politics. Haberma’s vision of global rule of law constitutes such a challenging concept. Moreover, new light has been found in relation with religion constituting ways of life and human rights. This very idea has brought about hope in creating a stable justifiable society in terms of governing nations. In this world of multiculturalism, religion seems to be able to shed some light in maintaining a sense of identity.
Influence of politics in forming administrative governing bodies must consider such global changes and take into account a parallel rule of law which allows a globalized civil society to develop. In conclusion regarding this matter, it can be said that separation of state and religion is crucial but only to some extent. National politics may take a back seat when global institutions and globalized events take charge in forming a global civil society, all the while religions adhere to such concept on its own fundamental principles.
The ingredients of fair rule over a nation supporting human rights and prosperous ways of life are obscure to measure to create a perfectly proportionately harmonious religious and politically stable nation. However, through the concept of globalized civil society, such global democratic institutions can progress toward harmony between religion and politics in a multiculturalism world (Harrison, 2003). When looked at from the broadest of perspectives, religion and politics can exist hand in hand in plainest sight.
However when dealt with reality and facts, this idea takes shape in the form of conflicts, contradictions and most dangerously violence. Only then differences in faith take over a whole new level of importance. From the time of Nazism and Stalinism till date thousands of human lives have been lost over the fight of religious views and its influence on politics. Politics is the one of the most maliciously effective reasons behind religious tensions that outgrow and dominate the debacle among the masses of one particular nation.
It is after all superior power in the form of government that can rule a nation however it wants at least during its period of rule. Autocratic power, stubborn monarchy or ancient powerful kingdoms are examples that give more reason to keep politics and religion separated. There are two factors to be considered here, one that monotheism to some extent creates more tension and hindrance to create a mutual sphere of rule.
As this form of faith, strongly believes that the one God that it believes in is the only God in the world, which in turn leads them to spread the ‘truth’ around the globe when they believe that this truth should be made universal. The second factor to be considered is greed for power. Autocratic powers or any other such forms of power completely lose itself in the magnetism of greed. Political powers as such take up any desperate measure to retain its power and assure its continuation of dominance, as they strongly believe that their religious views are too superior for debate and negotiation.
Democracy in this circumstance has little if any priority. Myanmar, Thailand, Germany are only few of the countries which had or still have to endure the atrocity of such dictatorship of one-tracked religious view. Only pages of world history can in the end define the magnitude of such debacle of relationship between religion and politics. In the 21st century, with the intense and epidemic rise of multicultural and multi-religious communities certain changes in political administrative need to be immediately addressed.
For example, rights of homosexuals are flatly denied in the constitution of Islamic constitution, and it is even barely prioritized in the most developed countries (Hanson, 2006). With such diverse demographic and conflicting views of the present world, a shared agenda between religion and politics is probably one of the most difficult ambitions to achieve. Violence shed over matters of religious views may be the most primitive causes of political and religious tension.
Over centuries violence has been at the frontline of this particular stigma: new theories, ideologies and concepts have been set forth to stabilize this severe debate that has been affecting the world at such great magnitude. Concepts that constitute the idea of keeping religion completely separate in a secular manner of governance to a new idea of formation of globalized civil society to taking in account the recent epidemic diversity which almost any government has to host and consider in ruling a nation.
All such concepts have been thoroughly discussed and proposed to come to a definite solution of this massive debacle: relationship between politics and religion (Razavi and Jenichen, 2010). Through the final words, it can be concluded that politics and religion must be kept separate to an extent of assuring acceptance of all religious views and harmony between the masses in a particular nation. List of References • Enns, P. 2010. “Habermas, Democracy and Religious Reasons”. The Heythrop Journal. pp. 582-593 • Hanson, E. O. 2006. “Religion and Politics in the International System Today”.
Sociology of Religion. Vol:70, No:1, pp. 90-91 • Harrison, D. 2003. “Religion and Politics: A Reference Handbook”. Reference Reviews, Vol. 17 No: 1, pp. 11 – 12 • Motzkin, G. and Fischer, Y. 2008. Religion and democracy in contemporary Europe. Alliance Publishing Trust • Razavi, S. and Jenichen, A. 2010. “The Unhappy Marriage of Religion and Politics: problems and pitfalls for gender equality”. Third World Quarterly. Vol. 31 No: 6, pp. 833-850 • Warhust, J. 2007. “Religion and Politics in the Howard Decade”. Australian Journal of Political Science. Vol: 42, No: 1, pp. 19-32