Politics and religion

This is a forum for discussing philosophical theories of government and social structure. It is not a venue for partisan rants or plugging favored candidates.

Politics and religion

Postby A_Seagull on January 30th, 2019, 5:58 am 

I have little doubt that mixing politics and religion is not healthy for a country... but why isn't it? Is there a simple justification for why the two should be separated?

And, working on the presumption that politics and religion should not be mixed, what is the best way of achieving this? Does it require some form of legislation in some form of constitution? Or is there an easier way of achieving it?
User avatar
A_Seagull
Member
 
Posts: 98
Joined: 29 Apr 2017
Lomax liked this post


Re: Politics and religion

Postby Serpent on January 30th, 2019, 11:52 am 

A_Seagull » January 30th, 2019, 4:58 am wrote:I have little doubt that mixing politics and religion is not healthy for a country... but why isn't it?

That depends on the country. For Israel and India, it's simply impossible. Where the national religion provides the basis for all ethics and law, the framework of social organization and the matrix for daily life, it can't be separated from politics. This has serious drawbacks for some people - blasphemers, heretics, activists for social change, etc. It may also retard scientific and technological progress. But it ensures cohesion and stability.


Is there a simple justification for why the two should be separated?

A polyglot, heterogeneous, immigrant or colonial society can't afford to marginalize half of its population.

(TBC. We're going to brave the elements and make a post office run while the snow holds off.)
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3458
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Politics and religion

Postby Serpent on January 30th, 2019, 4:59 pm 

continued... (phew! we made it home)
And, working on the presumption that politics and religion should not be mixed,

Christian and Muslim nations would certainly have been better off continuing the trend toward secularism: their schisms and sects have caused terrible damage to the fabric of those nations which have a Protestant/Catholic or Shia/Sunni population split. With modern global communications and economic connections, it's no longer possible to keep a single religion or nationality isolated from a world that thinks and lives differently. With the dislocation of large numbers of people by war, poverty, oppression and climate, it's no longer possible to keep any nation mono-ethnic. Of course, all of this applies several-fold to past and present imperial powers and their colonies.
A wholly secular government may be able to keep peace among the various groups within its borders; there is even a remote chance of democracy and human rights.

what is the best way of achieving this? Does it require some form of legislation in some form of constitution? Or is there an easier way of achieving it?

An unambiguous constitution is the best way tried so far. It's considerably easier to keep the ambitious religious factions in check if the government has been secular from the founding of the country, but Britain, Germany and France have managed to change over time. Of course, it's easier with a high standard of living and education than if the bulk of the population is kept at subsistence level.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3458
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Politics and religion

Postby Lomax on January 30th, 2019, 10:23 pm 

A_Seagull » January 30th, 2019, 10:58 am wrote:I have little doubt that mixing politics and religion is not healthy for a country... but why isn't it? Is there a simple justification for why the two should be separated?

The simplest practical argument would be that less secular societies tend to fall into comparative authoritarianism, tribalism, class division and conflict. I would argue that that is because all of those things are innate to religion - in particular, doctrinal religion - itself. As a point of principle Rawls and Nussbaum have both made the same argument: a law ought to be justifiable on its own terms, rather than on the terms of some agreed (or enforced) dogma.

Serpent » January 30th, 2019, 4:52 pm wrote:That depends on the country. For Israel and India, it's simply impossible. Where the national religion provides the basis for all ethics and law, the framework of social organization and the matrix for daily life, it can't be separated from politics. This has serious drawbacks for some people - blasphemers, heretics, activists for social change, etc. It may also retard scientific and technological progress. But it ensures cohesion and stability.

Two of the tragedies of the Twentieth century. These are, of course, comparatively new countries; Hindu nationalism was greatly spurred on by Gandhi and led to the partitions of Bangladesh and Pakistan, and the ceaseless dispute over Kashmir may eventually turn nuclear, which the Dalai Lama encourages. I'm sure you know all this; I point it out only to say that it is the wrong, and not the only, path. It is a strange kind of adhesive which breaks a country into three or four pieces.

Nye Bevan once asked parliament: "do you want a base in Cyprus, or Cyprus for a base?". This type of distinction - essentially the mathematical distinction between a set and its members - is vital in politics. So in the same vein, we might ask the Zionist wing of Israel: do you want a nation for Jews, or a Jewish nation?
User avatar
Lomax
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 3662
Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Location: Nuneaton, UK


Re: Politics and religion

Postby Serpent on January 30th, 2019, 11:13 pm 

Lomax » January 30th, 2019, 9:23 pm wrote:... Hindu nationalism was greatly spurred on by Gandhi and led to the partitions of Bangladesh and Pakistan, and the ceaseless dispute over Kashmir may eventually turn nuclear,

Imperialism makes messes. The British empire makes a mess; they must be opposed; they are opposed successfully; they go home -- the mess stays behind, compounded by new messes produced by the change. Couple of decades later, the mess starts trickling into England in the form of displaced people from ex-colonies. Another couple of decades later, big messes in England.

It is a strange kind of adhesive which breaks a country into three or four pieces.

If didn't used to be a single great big country - or even the same nine or ten regional entities for any length of time - until the Raj made it so. It couldn't divide back into its original components, but it sure couldn't be a single unit. Breakage was inevitable.

we might ask the Zionist wing of Israel: do you want a nation for Jews, or a Jewish nation?

First the one, then - inevitably - the other. Given the circumstances of its making, it couldn't have been any other way. Should it have been made in the first place? That's too big a question for the present venue.

I do realize that was an extreme example and India was iffy. For an example that really worked, I'd have to go quite a long way back. In modern times, it's hard to find examples of monolithic culture: thousands of years of imperial expansion and recession have mixed up all the peoples.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3458
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Politics and religion

Postby A_Seagull on February 2nd, 2019, 10:53 pm 

Perhaps the best strategy for secularists to keep religion out of politics is to minimise the importance of religion in all aspects of life. In that way its influence on politics will be minimised.
User avatar
A_Seagull
Member
 
Posts: 98
Joined: 29 Apr 2017


Re: Politics and religion

Postby Serpent on February 2nd, 2019, 11:30 pm 

A_Seagull » February 2nd, 2019, 9:53 pm wrote:Perhaps the best strategy for secularists to keep religion out of politics is to minimise the importance of religion in all aspects of life. In that way its influence on politics will be minimised.

If only!
That's what socialist policies tend toward. When you give people individual freedom under the protection of the state, plus economic security, plus education, religion becomes less prominent in their lives. This inevitably happens when the standard of living and a reasonable range of choice is made available.
But the blowback is fierce and ruthless.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3458
Joined: 24 Dec 2011



Return to Political Theory

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 19 guests