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Politics and Religion

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Religion and Politics and the effect of religion in America

For a virtuous instance of how religion affects politics in our current world we need not look very distant but rather look around you. The influence of Catholicism on Latin American politics, and the role religion plays on Middle Eastern politics have had a profound affect in those related societies. After examining the effects of religion into the above mentioned societies it is clear that the introduction of religion into politics has proven to be suppressive and counterproductive to most third world countries, and various subcultures in first world countries. A very well known writer and scholar on the history of Egypt, Budge, E. A. Wallis, "Egyptian Religion and Society: Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life (Library of the Mystic Arts)". Citadel Press. August 1, 1991. Wrote, “Most scholars have concluded that, in later times at least, there was no close personal tie between the individual Egyptian and the gods, that the gods remained aloof, that their relationship to humans was indirect, communicated to him by means of the king”. We must remember that there was no established book or set of teachings, as the Bible or the Qur'an, and few prescribed conditions of behavior or conduct. Humans were guided essentially by human wisdom and trusted in their belief in the goodness of the gods and of their divine son, the king. An important concept in Egyptian life was the idea of justice. Although the Egyptian was entirely subservient to the state, the king had the duty of translating the will of the gods. The universe had been created by bringing order and justice to replace chaos, and only through the continuance of order and justice could the universe survive. The law of nature, of society, and of the gods was all one whole, and it was the duty of the king to administer that law, which was guided by the concept of justice? As Egypt flourished, so did the state cult. As the pharaohs grew more powerful, they poured riches into the state cult and built huge and splendid temples to their gods. The priesthoods/political leaders then grew very powerful. Much like ancient Egypt, in our not so distant past the social and political questions that have emerged with the transformation of the Catholic Church in Latin America since the 1960’s are numerous and complex. According to a New York Times correspondent Alan Riding, in reviewing Penny Lernoux’s the Cry of the People (1980) and three other recent titles, called the changing role of the Church the most important single variable affecting the resurgence of revolutionary struggles there, and the metamorphosis of the Church “the most important political development in Latin America since the Cuban revolution” (1981, p 3). Although perhaps exaggerated, such claims point to the tremendous significance of the Church in period of widespread crisis and social change. Moreover, “there are many other Catholic movements involved in politics besides those inspired by liberation theology”. This is according to Opus Dei comments made during an interview with the Brazilian Herald (2005, p 3). He also went on to say that “the major challenger to Lula in the forthcoming Brazilian presidential elections is a man who is linked to the very conservative traditionalist Catholic movement, which is also very strong in Peru. The Catholic charismatic movement has also become more and more politically active”. (2005, p 3). As for Protestantism in Latin America, Latin American Protestant identity was forged strongly in opposition to the dominant Catholicism; and, therefore, the political operationalization of a specifically Protestant identity has been more marked there than in the rest of the world.
Is the United States a significantly more religious country than most of the modern nations of the world? The United States certainly does not present itself to the rest of the world as a religious nation. A proper way to think about a nation’s core values might be to consider the reasons the people would be willing to go to war. Americans have shown a willingness to fight for democracy, capitalism, human rights, and other secular concepts. Would Americans go to war for Christianity? As of the writing of this paper, the United States is fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. To some Americans, the purpose of these conflicts seems unclear, while some see Americans fighting for democracy or other noble cause. However, the consensus is clearly that Americans are not fighting on behalf of Christianity against Islam. These are not religious wars to Americans.
In addition, many Americans cannot conceive of the United States fighting a religious war. The Islamic extremists Americans are fighting do see it as a religious war, however. Interestingly, they do not see it as a war against Christians, but a war against infidels, or secularists, that spread capitalism and threaten their traditional religious values. From this perspective, it would seem that the United States is perceived by much of the world as a secular nation. The irony here is that by all measures, the United States is a relatively religious nation. From a macro perspective, the importance of religion on politics in the United States is easy to see. Public debates over social issues take on a much more religious tone in the United States than they do in Canada, England, or many of the other modern nations. Religion provides the foundation for mainstream arguments on political issues such as abortion, gay marriage, the death penalty, and many others (Brewer & Stonecash, 2007). Religion plays a significant role in electoral politics, especially in recent decades (Layman, 2001). The importance of religion in American politics may be intuitively clear, but the political scientist is not satisfied with mere observance. Political scientists must provide evidence to support their intuition. Only then can they begin to explore the causes and implications of a phenomenon. To understand the current state of the literature in the field of religion and American politics, it is helpful to begin with the influence religion can have on individuals. It goes without saying that religion has always been important to people and has the capacity to influence how they live their lives. For many, religion is a cornerstone of who they are and plays a big part in many of the decisions they make. There is evidence that religion has been losing influence over the past four hundred years and that this pattern continues today, although the extent to which this fact is true is up for debate. In any case, religion has always had, and continues to have, a very personal connection to many people and can therefore be used in many ways as a powerful motivator (or manipulator). The fundamental importance of religion to an individual can have many manifestations in a society. One way to study it is how religion affects the institutions of the government. This institutional approach can focus on the structure of the institutions (whether a nation has a church-state or not) or how the politicians incorporate religion into the way they represent their constituents in a democracy. Another way is to examine the political behavior of the citizens, or the political culture of the nation, as represented by public opinion. In a pluralist nation like the United States, which has a strong civil society, religion can play a significant role in the exchange of ideas.
One of the best developed theories in the literature concerning the religiosity in the United States is a supply-side model. Although many political scientists have contributed to this theory (Iannaccone, 1990; Jelen, 2000, among others), the most complete work is The Churching of America, 1776–1990 by Finke and Stark (1992). It is a supply-side or market-driven model because the theory states that the religiosity in American culture does not come from an inherent demand for religion among the American people; it comes from the competition among the diverse suppliers of religion in the open marketplace. The focus of this theory is the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. At the most fundamental level, this clause guarantees a free marketplace for religious ideas. As a result, churches publicly compete for members, and this overt competition creates a religious fervor in the community. Ironically, in many cases today, churches do not compete for membership using differences in interpretation of scripture or other doctrinal differences. Instead, the competition takes a more secular form, as the churches advertise location, service times, and opportunities for children, or the quality of their choir or other programs. This competition brings people in the doors, and then the messages they hear reinforce the religiosity in the culture. The fundamental importance of religion to an individual can have many manifestations in a society. One way to study it is how religion affects the institutions of the government. This institutional approach can focus on the structure of the institutions (whether a nation has a church-state or not) or how the politicians incorporate religion into the way they represent their constituents in a democracy. Another way is to examine the political behavior of the citizens, or the political culture of the nation, as represented by public opinion. In a pluralist nation like the United States, which has a strong civil society, religion can play a significant role in the exchange of ideas.
In many ways, the study of religion and American politics is relatively new. The market model goes a long way toward showing why the United States is not cooperating with the secularization theory, but there is much work to do. In addition, the dynamic political scientists are endeavoring to study is constantly changing. From the rise of the Evangelicals in the 1980s to September 11, 2001, events continue to challenge their understanding of the relationship. Once they begin to conceive of a party realignment around religion (the Republicans centering around more religious people and the Democrats centering around a more secular approach), then comes the election of 2008 where the Republicans nominated a candidate unappealing to religious conservatives and the Democratic candidates were openly discussing their faith on the campaign trail. Political scientists need to try and understand the basic theories in the field as quickly as possible before they change again.

Works Cited Page
Brewer, M. D., & Stonecash, J.M. (2007). Split: Class and cultural divides in American politics. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Budge, E. A. Wallis. Egyptian Religion: Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life. San Diego, CA: Book Tree, 2008. Print.
Finke, R., & Stark, R. (1992). The churching of America 1776 1990. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Jelen, T. G. (2000). To serve God and mammon: Church state relations in American politics. Boulde
Jelen, T. G., &Wilcox, C. (Eds.). (2002). Religion and politics in comparative perspective: The one, the few and the many. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. r, CO: Westview.
Layman, G. (2001). The great divide: Religious and cultural conflict in American party politics. New York: Columbia University Press…...

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...For the longest time, religion has played a big role in society. Religion’s main role today is to guide the followers through life influencing their world views, but there is some problems when it comes to religion and politics. The problem has carried on through the ages. Should they coexist or should they each stand individually in society today. When defining religion, people think of traditions and rituals that had impressed beyond them by their family and their older generations. Politics isn’t something that an individual is taught or learned, its experience that they have got through either having hands on issues or through experiences they have encountered. People tend to lean towards the form of government that best suites them or benefits their life style in which they are living or want to live. If an individual lived a life of poverty, that individual may lean more towards a society of equality and shared wealth where class lines are more consolidated to the people in need. A staggering 82 percent of the American population identifies with one religion or another. A religious sentiment is so ingrained in society that its effects cannot help but be seen in the political arena. A religious belief is either worn as a proud demarcation of their personal moral standing and virtuous character. Due to the American party system of election, certain polarities of religious and moral tendencies between democrats and republicans have risen out of the......

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Politics Without Religion

...scientifically testable, therefore they are not absolute truths either. Because absolute truth is what people tend to seek, they cling to a perfect god or a divine book, and that’s fine. It’s their right as Americans. However, when religion seeps into politics, therein lays the problem. Politics is loosely defined as “the activities associated with the governance of an area or country” or as “the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing government policy”, which ties neither God nor religion to the world of politics, even including the word science in the definition, a word that tends to be a threat to the deeply religious. Because of its tendency toward biasness, prejudice, and insensitivity, the world of politics need not affiliate with the cancer of society and decency that is organized religion. Names like Jerry Falwell, Jesse Jackson, Mike Huckabee, and Pat Robertson do not often come up in the same sentence, but they all share two things in common. They were influential to politics, and they are all deeply religious. It is no surprise then that they all hold true to the ideals presented within their churches and their bibles and use those ideals to further political agendas to create new policy or affect existing policy. Politics should be spoken for by politicians. That is not to say that, as Americans, we should not wish to vote for someone based on his or her ideals, but their ideals, whether they come from the bible, the Koran, or A Brief......

Words: 1655 - Pages: 7

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