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Religion has long been an influential factor in the life of every country. People have been treated and persecuted in accordance to their religious views. It is no surprise that religion influences the political future of the developing countries. Many countries, including India, China, among others, have based their political systems on the religion. Elections in these counties are also heavily influenced by the religious views, which can ultimately project the outcome of the vote. The course text book talks about different life aspects ranging from social and religious to political and economical (Callinicos, 2008). However, the major theme in this course text is the religious influence on politics. Therefore, this paper is aimed at analyzing religious influence on politics; it examines a problem within this theme, and analyzes a political system in India as it relates to the theme of religious influence on politics, and some associated problems.
The social cleavages described by the author on religion examines what influence religion has on politics. It says, “You can predict with fair accuracy how French will vote, by knowing how often they attend mass. You can partly predict how a German will vote by knowing if they are Protestant or Catholic. In India, many Hindus and Muslims see each other in hostile terms. Religion accounts for the formation of more political parties than social class.” (Callinicos, 2008).This textbook can be helpful in researching the situation in each country, and determining in what way it was influenced by religion. The text goes into depth in studying the Britons racial separation over religion, France and its split in religious views, and the religion division of Germany, It also examines situation of some other countries, determining the religious factors that have influence on the countries of the European Union.
Religion refers to the collection of beliefs; it is a system of worldviews, and cultural peculiarities, which establishes symbols that connect a human being with spirituality and moral values. Numerous religions have traditions, narratives, symbols, and sacred ceremonies and rites that give meaning to life or describe the origin of life or the universe. On the other hand, politics refer to the procedure by which groups of people make collective decisions (Collinson, 2009). This concept is applied generally to the art of managing a state or running governmental affairs, such as behavior within civil governments, though it also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups, such as corporate, religious, and academic segments of the society.
Collinson (2009) asserts that since time immemorial, religion and politics were inseparable. They had mutual relationship where politics described the kind of religion and the religion described politics. During those early days, politicians and all kinds of leaders were supposed to have strong religious background. Such situation has existed up to the modern era where religion and politics are still inseparable. Many authors have been writing numerous books and articles describing and helping modern societies to understand and see the influence of religion on politics.
In the course text, the author brings out the major theme (religious influence on politics) in a very unique manner. He used all means possible in addition to common writing styles, to ensure that all readers are in a good position to understand him, and get the message he intended to pass (Collinson, 2009).
The religious practices, particularly of the religions defined by the Book of Common Prayer and the Act of Uniformity, were obligatory. Yet, religion and politics were prized together both in justification offered to the persecution of Catholics, and in their response. More and more private religious ideas, which were far from political issues, emerged. The politics of religion in some countries have been strengthened by the inability of the political leaders to enforce strict uniformity of religious views in the country.
Roskin (2011) suggested a neat formula without thinking about how the formula should be used. The politics of the religion and the religion of politics sounds fine until you start to consider how the religious and politic topics are to be discussed apart. In order to make sense, the theme relies on religion and politics being two different substances; and it’s not clear what they were in ancient times.
Even though religion was given a special place in politics with an aim that it would influence it positively, religion had proved to be one of the major factors that were affecting politics negatively. The major problem associated with the religious influence on politics is that religious differences have led to increased death rates in different countries. There are many cases across the world where Muslims, for instance, have been killing Christians and vice versa in their struggle for power (Roskin, 2011). Furthermore, there have been certain situations where religion is supposed to give a significant resolution regarding politics; however, it gives contradicting statements hence provoking more political violence and conflicting situations. Generally, religion is a major cause of political violence and wars across the world.
In India, religion and politics have never been completely separated. Despite the contributions of the modern trends, it has remained so, and hence it is necessary to strive hard to separate them as secularism appears to be more feasible in the pluralistic society. It might also be asked how best positive religious insights can guide political wisdom when working in this direction.
In traditional societies, the ideological component was caused almost entirely by religion; secular political ideologies did not exist, and the legitimacy of the ruler was determined according to the religious ideas. The religious-political system was an integrated system, through which the ruler, clergy incorporated religious ideology, religious norms of behavior, and coercive governmental authority, so as to maximize the stability of the society (Robertaon, 2009). It is also fair to say that the political function of the clergy were no less significant than the king’s religious in the traditional system of India. Generally, the superiority of religion over politics was notable in ancient societies. Concerning the political culture, religious values also have a significant influence in predisposing people and societies towards certain pattern of political life.
Robertaon (2009) claims that religion and politics have a unique ability to arouse strong emotions. During the 17th century, this was true with no doubt. A drastic change took place both in political and religious life of some countries, such as India. Government gained control over the religion their state practiced through either the Counter Reformation or the Protestant Reformation. Religious tolerance became more common. Religion was also applied as a mean of legitimizing the noble’s power struggles, hence gaining public approval and support for these conflicts.
To put it in a different way, the modern nations and countries of the West evolved through the medieval synthesis, and religious community had played a significant role in the secular conflicts of certain countries since the ancient times up to the modern era (Robertaon, 2009). The religious convictions in today’s India are outweighed by the political and national convictions of the country in the ancient times.
The process of secularization resulted in the development of a secular state in India. Secularism, a belief that a country should treat all religions equally, was adopted by the Indian National Congress as one of its major principles simply due to the fact that it was moral, relevant, and appropriate for the society’s needs. The preamble of the Indian Constitution envisages justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity to all Indian citizens having taken into careful consideration the plural structure of the Indian Society in all life aspects (Waldman, 1976). Due to the insertion of the word ‘secular’ in the preamble of the Constitution enabled to complete the above definition. Nevertheless, it is argued by the critiques for the non-necessity of the inclusion of the word ‘secular’, as India is a secular country in nature. According to the opinion of anti-secular proponents, the word ‘secular’ is of western origin and was used to fight against the reign of Pope, and thus it is wrong to use it in India.
Politicization of religion is the main challenge a secular state has to encounter. It is very painful to notice that intolerance shows itself in the activities of the political parties that are clearly antagonistic to the entire spirit of the secular state. The dreams for establishing a secular state of India started to vanish soon with the development of a new type of the Hindu revivalism and cultural nationalism, so called neo-fanaticism (Waldman, 1976). The influence of religion on politics was not vanquished completely despite the fact that secularization and secularism were important attributes of the modern age.
It is said that people are less religious but religion tends to become political-oriented in a modern colonial, semi-colonial, democratic and independent societies (Waldman, 1976). Concerning the strong emotional appeal, religion has normally been dragged into social and political arenas by different interest groups. Religion is no longer oriented towards faith, rational or irrational in the politics, but towards evolving a religious identity, a primordial consciousness for its political utility.
Since it is apparent that religion plays a significant role in the modern politics, general development and growth of all countries, it is supposed to be observed under all circumstance. It is also apparent that religious conflicts are associated with the political situation. Since religious influence on politics has proved to be immense and difficult to be prevented completely, there is an urgent need to ensure that all negative religious influences that are leading to war and loss of life in struggle for any kind of power are eliminated (Yang, 2010). All governments across the world should highlight the roles and duties regarding politics so that all religious leaders are aware of their mandate. There should also be strict rules and regulations that govern politicians’ mandates and code of relations towards religion. Furthermore, it should be highlighted clearly in the Constitution that there is no dominant or inferior religion. All religions and denominations should be given equal rights before the law and the state. This is due to the fact that there are many countries where religious organizations and groups want their leaders to be political and governmental leaders in order to show the superiority of the given religion.
In conclusion, it is evident that religion has big influence on the politics of all countries across the world. It determines the results of election and political direction in many countries, for example, in India. It is, therefore, everybody’s duty to act responsibly and morally according to his/her religious belief and faith. The society should not give room for political war that originates or is linked to religion.