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Lindsy Wayt

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Why is it important for religion to remain separate from politics?

I am a senior in high school, and am focusing my CITS Composition II paper and my senior symposium on the separation of church and state. I have read Kenneth D. Wald's Religion and Politics in the United States along with Isaac Kramnick's and R. Laurence Moore's The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness and a few works by Richard Dawkins. From my research, I am convinced that the destructive roles of religion used in the decisioin-making realms of government can be detrimental towards the evolution of humanity. Freedom of religion is also freedom from religion, and religious involvement often creates more problems than solves. Examples of these problems include, but are not limited to: political controversies of same-sex marriage, the availability of contraception for females through all types of medical insurance, the pro-life/pro-choice controversy, abortion-related violence, and last, but certainly not least- war. Patriotism and religion should not walk hand-in-hand.

However, I feel like I have such strong claims and views on this topic. I am in search of more support and opening this controversial topic for further discussion. I am all for expanding and sharing my viewpoint, and I hope this post recieves some thoughtful response. Thanks!

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    May 30 2012: The events that have been unfolding in Egypt answer your question with modern reality and also focus our attention on the tryranny of the majority in what we loosely call "democracy".



    As life is more than the balance of blood in our veins, democracy is about more than open and free elections.


    The muslim majority in Egypt is already purging christians, impinging on personal freedoms. impinging on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, censoring art.

    Is that democracy? Should we even refer to a nation as "democratic" simply because it has popular elections if it does not also uphold and defend inalienable, inherent, freedoms?



    The key, Lindsy, seems to be in this idea of the tyranny of majority..it is in that where politics and religion become co-entangled notwithstanding a constitution that guarantees that our govennmet will nver usurp or interfere witgh these freedoms.. In the U.S.A. our population center ( the locus of the majority) has moved deeper and deeper south into the bible belt so these values become more present in who is elected to office, what kind of legislation comes to debate and in what determines votes cast.



    So my concern about the almost hopeless co entanglement of religion and politcs centers on thie tyranny of the majority . A true democacrcy is meant to hold, honor, and defend and encourage diversity , plurality. The whole idea of majority rule goes against the very principle, defeats it even though our constitution presumably gurantees that.


    In my opinion, we have to move away from a two party system where majority rules to a more pluralistic multi party system where the majority by party ideology cannot rule or control, where collaboration not caucuses is the deliberative process, where the common wisdom can emerge, where our laws and governmnet policies really can .manifest what our constitution guarantees.
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    May 4 2012: Because in religion, truth is handed down by an authority. This leads to abuse.
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      May 5 2012: In any hierarchal structure "truth " is handed down by authority, does that mean that we should ban families, teachers and traffic wardens ?
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        May 5 2012: Yes that's what it means.
        Parents and teachers who try to inform using their authority instead of explanations belong in the dark ages. And if often betrays how little they understand what they're talking about when they conclude :
        "because daddy knows,
        because I'm your teacher and I know,
        because I'm a doctor and I know,
        because I'm a scientist and I know..."
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        May 8 2012: This response is for both of you guys and I'll be taking an anarchist perspective here: (and yes it may digress a little for the original topic)

        I agree with Johnson's statement about "truth" being handed down from those in authority...this is actually a concern that has been raised in the anarchist tradition..it discussions have went as far as how justifiable is a child/parent, teacher/student relationship.

        the answer is that both are very justifiable but it also depends on context but nonetheless both have a burden of proof to bare for their existing hierarchical relationships and leaves more room for rational, secular political discourse (which is something that we can only dream of nowadays)...As long as religion becomes the major player in politics we can consider this to be an issue for the next 100 years or so

        this is a practice that our modern political systems seem to forget. It is no longer about the community or the people but votes and fulfilling ones own self-interest..
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    May 31 2012: Thank you, guys.

    I am done with my symposium and composition- received one of the highest scores of my class on the symposium and an average grade on my composition.

    I wish I could share both with you guys on here, but again I would like to thank for everyone's input and for helping me move forward in my research while asking questions I hadn't thought of before.
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    May 4 2012: Because things like this happen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3n3bWLEvJk

    Such a belief caused the death or affected the lives of millions of people (not just Americans but everyone involved in the war).

    if you doubt this source you can find all kinds of articles about this online.

    If your going to start a war, leave it to the politics, not biblical prophecies that can have its merit doubted
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    Jun 1 2012: Age,experience, class and upbringing also affect/effect our views. Having said all that, midway through my time here, I agree they should be separate. It's tough though life isn't black or white, there is so much gray. We make decisions (as do politicians and the like) on what we believe, what we believe is colored by religion sometimes. Good Topic :-D would love to hear back from you. We should be able to do what we want with our bodies and take our birth control; if someone from xyz believes based on religion, feel otherwise let them do so in their own family with their own body. My meager 2cents lol.
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    May 11 2012: Religious government is the bane of all human endeavor.

    When a religious government takes over a country which does not have a clear constitution against a church led state, the religion in power will tend to serve it's own and ignore the people of whom the leaders have moral or ethical grounds against. A prime example of a 'church-state' is the highly fanatical religious leaders of certain Arab nations. It is the end result of many years of religious doctrine and rhetoric.

    In saying that, a government who does not allow the freedom of religious choice would cause as many problems as one that is highly fanatical about one. In North Korea, people have been deprived of a fact-based education for so long that they believe their rulers are super human.

    The separation of church, and state by the founding fathers of the American union was a bold and daring move, which was unprecedented at the time. This allowed scientific freedom and most importantly the best possible foundation for a good education.

    In closing, religion in itself is not bad. People that force their ideals are. When people that force religious views on others come to power, the freedoms of a nation will be stripped.
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    May 9 2012: Lindsy,
    Let's start with the phrase "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

    When you use religion to try to find your place in the cosmos, it becomes a spiritual journey; the quest for the Holy Grail.
    When you use religion to try and exert authority, it can become a tyrannical dictatorship.
    There is value in the former. There is grave danger in the latter. Unfortunately, the latter seems to be norm in history.

    The prophet Samuel warned the people of wanting a king to rule over them. He said the only king you should have is the spirit of God in your heart. He wanted the people to find God within and coexist as one people united. he was trying to lead them to the state of enlightenment. But the people refused. They demanded a king and they got just what Samuel warned them about.

    Throughout history, the prophets continued to warn the people to no avail. When all was well, they did as they pleased, and when all was lost, only then would they put their focus back on the source of life. But no sooner did they get their feet on the ground, and they were right back to doing as they pleased.

    As foretold by the prophets, the messiah came to reveal the mysteries of God, and just as foretold, the religious leaders of his time had him put to death because he questioned their authority. Christianity eventually became the state religion. But the Roman catholics put a man in charge and he became the voice of God. So long as his heart was in the right place, he served the people well. But history reveals bad popes that led the people astray. Obey No1 Kinobe points to some of those deeds.

    When our forefathers came to this country, they understood the value of the spiritual journey, but they also understood the danger of religious persecution. They separated government from religion for that reason. They gave the people the freedom to search for God, but they made sure that you couldn't force your views on anyone else.
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      May 10 2012: Hi Roy,

      I like you comment but I have one question:

      what does one's spiritual journey have to do with creating social, political and economic reform? How will keeping our laws in line with the cosmos help one get out of, lets say, poverty?

      do you think one's religious views can conflict with one's political views?
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        May 10 2012: Orlando,
        You have three questions.

        Pride, ego, greed, injustice, prejudice, intolerance are all traits of human weakness. The spiritual journey is what leads us to overcome and rise above it. Religious instruction is only the tip of the iceberg. If you never get past the words, then you never understood what it was all about. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you. If you never discover what that means, then it was all for naught.
        Human weakness is why there is social and political unrest and economic imbalance.

        Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it. People have a hard time coming to terms. They sabotage each other's efforts. They make things complicated when they don't need to be. They let pride stand in the way of reason. Those things that work in harmony with the laws of the cosmos work very well. Those things that work against it will ultimately fail. Science is one of those things that work well. Dictatorships don't work well at all. I learned to pray before making decisions. I came from a poor family. I'm not rich, but I am content and doing very well. I learned to put God first, and I have no regrets.

        My religious views don't conflict with my political views because I think about them. I don't pull scriptures out of a book and quote them as God's word. I analyze what it all means. Pork was an unclean animal to the Israelites. It wasn't because God's word said so, it was because of trichinosis. They didn't have the medical facilities that we have today. So their laws on cleanliness and purification were meant to keep them healthy (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure). We are having a hard time dealing with AIDS. Think about what it would have done to them. They had laws against homosexuality. I asked myself, if God didn't like gays, why did he make so many of them? The spiritual journey helps me to ask the right questions and to sort out the answers.
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    May 6 2012: First of all, I would like to thank all of you for your great amount of input!
    For those of you who posted the video links- I enjoyed watching them- The Hillsdale lecture and the comments on Bush led me to some further research.

    I guess, what I am more specifically looking for is some support to a few of the claims I plan to make as compromises to the whole controversy of "separation of church and state".

    Examples of these claims:
    • It is never appropriate to impose a religious test for public office. Article VI Const- “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States ”.
    • Voters should evaluate candidates based on policies, values, and their character- not how they choose to worship.
    • Religious leaders should refrain from using religious authority or threats to persuade the political decisions of citizens or candidates.
    • Religious leaders cross the line when they seek to coerce, not convince or counsel.
    • Democracies, and religious freedom, depend on voters being free to exercise civic duty without fear of punishment.
    • Democracy requires the ability to test public policies in reasoned discourse in a free marketplace of ideas.
    • Candidates should refrain from citing religion as exclusive authority for their positions.
    • Politicians should be inclusive of all citizens if they choose to speak on religion, and they should speak so that moral power and imagery can UNITE rather than divide.
    • Religious organizations have the freedom to speak out on great issues, but they should never endorse or oppose candidates based on religious beliefs alone.
    • Cloaking any candidate or political party in any religion is certain to disappoint. After all, candidates are human. Identifying them with any higher power compromises a society’s moral standards and disillusions.
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      May 9 2012: "Candidates should refrainfrom..." .
      "Politicians should..."
      I may have no problems aggreeing with some of these statements ,but the question then is WHO says these groups should or shouldn't ?
      Cloaking if a way of hiding behind is wrong (in my opinion) , but if someone has strongly held views then is is it right to deny himor her expression of those views. We then get into the debate of trying to judge a person's motives .
      If I tell you I live in a 12 bedroom house ( and I don't) ,you will get a view of me, and a perception that is wrong or right. However in politics and public life perception can by true or false, so the broadest possible view has to be taken for anyone to make a judgement.
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      May 9 2012: In the Western Hemisphere, Church and State should be separated both ways. Both ways in the sense of no Church should force the government in any way and the State should not force (or limit) the church, or individuals, in any way. This is for the sake of the spiritual freedom of every individual citizen.
      Following a religion should be regarded as the basic right of any person.

      Because religion is, or should be, a personal interpretation about how to become a better person, it cannot be forced on society at large because never should one's religious interpretation be forced on another. Would that not be the foundation of democracy?

      I don't think there is anything wrong with an individual voter to evaluate and influence the State based on that person's belief system. Going to heaven (or hell) is an individual decision and effort, not a group activity.

      The Middle-East shows how wrong things can go if the two are not seperated.
    • Timo X

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      May 19 2012: @Lindsy

      I would like to compliment you on your subject choice and your writing style. I think you have a very interesting topic about and, more importantly, you seem to have thought about this very well and seem to be able to express these thoughts fluently in writing. As for raising more questions than you are answering, being able to raise curiosity and new questions in you readers is an essential writing skill. However, I would advise you to constrain yourself to one topic: it is not necessary to include all your views on everything that has to do with the subject of your article. You seem to want to make a lot of different but not overtly related points. A good article makes only one point, albeit usually a big and somewhat controversial one. This main point is generally made in the in the first paragraph and the rest of the article is spent doing three things:
      1) Building up a structure of argumentation that supports the point within an accepted framework (e.g. historical, mathematical, philosophical),
      2) Defending the main point from every possible conceivable angle of attack, and
      3) Discussing the implications of the main point.
      Although your claims make a lot of sense to me, not everyone may agree with our assessment and you might lose some readers if you don't spell everything out in an attractive and convincing manner. So what I'm trying to tell you really, is this: don't go about making claims, stick to one point and prove it.
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    May 4 2012: Great question.

    In the U.S. the founders believe it is immoral for government to coerce religious beliefs on it's citizens.

    I recommend this video:

    http://www.hillsdale.edu/constitution/week_06_lecture.aspx

    You will have to sign up for it but it is free and I recommend it.
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      May 4 2012: The founding fathers may have thought it was immoral for government to coerce religious beliefs on it citizens but at the same time the founding fathers maintained that such beliefs should be kept and practiced privately and that such beliefs had no business being involved in politics.
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        May 4 2012: Correct. Except they did believe in natural law. You will notice on all of the money it states In God We Trust
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      May 7 2012: Hi Pat,

      I can be intellectually honest enough to admit that you are indeed correct. John Locke did have a major influence in early american politics and he did believe in natural law...

      I think most people forget that although the founding fathers were not really religious, they were not non-believers as well (at least not to my knowledge and I'll be glad to know who was). From what I studied and know most of them were deist. They were not dogmatic enough to embrace religious certainty but they were not willing to not accept some higher order to the universe. lol..interesting point, thanks
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    May 30 2012: "Why is it important for religion to remain separate from politics?"

    It cannot be seperate and never will be unless religion is absent from society. Everyone has their own beliefs whether they wear them on their sleeves or not. I think the issue should be looked at with a macro lense instead. Imposing views and ideals of any kind upon a sector or population as a whole is like walking a tight rope.

    Sorry for the analogys but I write at the 3rd grade level.
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    May 30 2012: But more so when I studied this more I realized that science and history played a bigger role in understanding the Bible and also became part of the importance of how amazing God is to me. This is what I had learned more about and they all were just as important in which they didn’t really talk to me about in there nievity and narrow security. Extract from “The Genesis Enigma” by Andrew Parker.

    Michelangelo’s great painting- the worlds first (and the most successful) attempt to visually realize the Old Testament’s creation theory story – on the ceiling of the Sistern Chapel how creation really happened. Was a version Michealangelo showed was a true one? That glorious ceiling what the ancient writer’s f the bible knew about the beginnings of everything – how that knowledge was understood at the time Michealangelo painted his master piece. Could they have got it right?
    The ceiling of the Sistern Chapel. Just like the creation’s pride of place in the Bible, it has been there in one of the world’s most famous work’s of art, directly above the head’s of pope’s for centuries. Michealangelo painted the creation story, as one would expect someone with out scientific knowledge to represent genius – using the human form (Genesis scientifically proven). The way everyone could identify with it. But the writer of Genesis opted instead for a cryptic, more abstract description, Why?
    The Sistern Chapel had been designed to match the exact internal dimensions of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem – twice as long as its is high – as specifically detailed in the Bible. Work had begun in 1477 with construction of the cannonball- proof walls, 10 feet thick at their base. At the top of these walls ran to pour boiling oil on attackers below. Offering protection for cardinals, the chapel also housed soldiers, and later prisoners, in the rooms above the vault. cont
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      May 30 2012: Did you just say genesis was scientifically proven? How so?
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        May 30 2012: it is discovered that the book of genesis wasnt written by moses alone. with my lack of knowledge of this book and i believe in. it is surposed that genesis has been written by a number of sources as it is called in this book. these sources (4 or 5 of them) d, e, f, g say; when the reseach that has been done on the book Genesis and through archilogical references and history that the scribers are from different areas and tribes that they can tell that analytically and psycological reference that the scribers or writers were influenced and had geological, economical pressures and influences in thier writing at that time which is why they know that moses didnt write it on his own. also they were all related and are say priests or scollars entrusted by moses and it goes on in the book Genesis Enigma in the appendix of the book because I started reading there at the back. when it goes into details and it is writen in the Bible too that these respected sourses that have to write and entrusted in writing the scipts have to re right, was them selves if using the words Yahweh for example and if the make one letter mistake when writing the Torah that whole chapter has to be re written and approved by the hi priest or who ever. The Jewish writers of these txt's still practice this method today but you would have to read up on that for the details. what ive found is the front of the book which you would of proberbly read as i have put on this conversation interesting is that the Jahovahs that came to my house with the similar question that has been raised in this topic here is that i was motivated to read further into the relivance of how important it was for politics and art and how scientific this book is that i love the story and how the big bang theory and Michealangelo has esculated my courage to continue to love bible study study more.
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          May 30 2012: Ok right, just to clarify a bit more, are you saying that the book of genesis is a true scientific account of the origins of the universe and how life etc got here and that god made man from clay and woman from his rib etc etc and that noah actually had an ark
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        May 30 2012: it is discovered that the book of genesis wasnt written by moses alone. with my lack of knowledge of this book and i believe in im going to find it hard to explain to you,but ill try. it is surposed that genesis has been written by a number of sources as it is called in this book. these sources (4 or 5 of them) d, e, f, g say; when the reseach that has been done on the book Genesis and through archilogical references and history that the scribers are from different areas and tribes that they can tell that analytically and psycological reference that the scribers or writers were influenced and had geological, economical pressures and influences in thier writing at that time which is why they know that moses didnt write it on his own. also they were all related and are say priests or scollars entrusted by moses and it goes on in the book Genesis Enigma in the appendix of the book because I started reading there at the back. when it goes into details and it is writen in the Bible too that these respected sourses that have to write and entrusted in writing the scipts have to re right, was them selves if using the words Yahweh for example and if the make one letter mistake when writing the Torah that whole chapter has to be re written and approved by the hi priest or who ever. The Jewish writers of these txt's still practice this method today but you would have to read up on that for the details. what ive found is the front of the book which you would of proberbly read as i have put on this conversation interesting is that the Jahovahs that came to my house with the similar question that has been raised in this topic here is that i was motivated to read further into the relivance of how important it was for politics and art and how scientific this book is that i love the story and how the big bang theory and Michealangelo has esculated my courage to continue to love bible study study more. youd have to read it to find the details of the science!!!
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          May 31 2012: Hi Lindsy/Damien/Stewart ,
          To Keep things simple Religion is all about realizing god and politics is all about serving community better through proper administration.

          when the 2 things mix thats where the trouble begins , political leaders decide to take religion , misinterpret them and bring about chaos in the community city and then it slowly becomes a global issue(to some extent it has).

          All religions speak about journey within self . I am a spiritual person and I have friends from all religion in my country . I noticed all religions have the same goal . So, for obvious reasons , Religion and politics needs to be kept separately .

          Thanks Lindsy for bringing up such an important topic

          Regards,
          Bharath
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        Jun 4 2012: Work following: Gods work- and let there be light and the Pentateuch had been written Pythagoras saw harmony in the universe, and the most harmonious geometric solid form is a sphere. Following Pythagoras, Greek philosophical circles Strato of Lampsacus became head of Aristotle’s Lyceum and one of Aristotle’s students Aristarchus of Samos, Claudius Ptolemy. Aristotle and Ptolemy subscribed to a pagan religion, the Catholic Church found their astronomy pleasing. Further still, that people from outside the Abrahamic religions framework had deduced a model of the universe that conformed to God’s creation, in that it fitted with the Biblical references, was taken as independent evidence for God’s existence… The story begins with a begins with a brilliant German scholar named Rigiomontanus that had popularized Ptolemy’s cosmological view. All these works were even used by Christopher Columbus to scare the hostile natives on Jamaica with possessing “magic”. With the aid of Rigomontanus’ “book, he predicted he predicted when a lunar eclipse would occur. When it happened as predicted, the impressionable natives became fearful- clearly, Columbus was some sort of sorcerer.
        In 1474, just few a years before he commissioned Botticelli and other Florentine artists to decorate the walls as I mentioned before of the Sistine Chapel, With Michealangelo Pope 1V summoned Regiomontanus to Rome. A couple of generations after would Nicolaus Copernicus then Newton, Einstein. Newton, an English mathematician, is considered on of the greatest scientists who ever lived. It’s hard to find any other single individual who laid more better foundations for science than he did. Newton’s theories are particularly important in our history of the universe as he answered the question why the sun was the centre of our solar system as the previous scientists. Born in 1642, Newton was not a particularly appealing character. Grumpy, irritable, malicious… one can continue along these lines. ref "the Gen
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        Jun 4 2012: Some of the sciences and scientist used in "the Genesis Science proven" is as follows: Born in 1642, Newton was not a particularly appealing character. Grumpy, irritable, malicious… one can continue along tese lines. But such characteristics also indicate that his brain worked in unusual ways- he was not of the norn. Newton was one of the inventors of the branch of mathematics called calculus. He also solved the mysteries of light and optics, formulated three laws of motion, and derived from them the law of universal gravitation. His work underlies much of science even today- for instance, his laws of motion put forward in his book Principia Mathematica” in1687, are the most fundamental laws of classical mechanics. These laws can be used to understand all the interactions of force, matter, and motion, except for those involving ‘relativistic’ and ‘ quantum’ effects, which were twentieth- century realizations.
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    May 30 2012: Continued: The Chapel’s last stone was laid in 1480, as the finest artist in Italy, including Sandro Botticelli, were already heading for Rome to decorate it’s walls. Even the Florentine magnate Lorenzo de’ Medici (‘Lorenzo the Magnificent’) had granted his painters leave of absence to undertake this special task. They were commissioned to record in Fransco scenes from the lives of Moses on one side and Jesus on the other. The ceiling its self lay lower in the priorities of the incumbent pope, who chose for this supposedly unworkable surface a standard design involving gold stars laid upon a blue background. Twenty years later another pope, Julius 11, summoned Michealangelo with instructions to repaint the ceiling, presenting the artist with a plan for a Romanesque design, a geometric pattern with interconnecting circles, squares and hexagons. But michealangelo had other ideas. He reverted back to his favorite subject - the human body.
    We know that Michealangelo often frequented the Sistern Chapel to soak up the ambience while the scaffold for his own work was being constructed. As he looked upward to where the workmen were hammering away, he also saw the process whereby the stars in the existing sky were becoming… nothing. Empty white plaster had replaced the depictions of solid, celestial objects. Stars had been painted on nothingness; now they were reverting to nothingness. He was witnessing the creation in reverse. Michealangelo chose for his subject something totally original: not just the story of Adam and Eve, Noah and the usual characters who had traditionally adorned classical religious art, but the very beginnings of the creation story, how the earth its self and life came into existence. It was a subject entirely new to art, possibly because it had always eluded human understanding.
    We know Michealangelo settled upon these Biblical events: God separating light from darkness, God creating the planets, and God separating the sky and the water…
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    May 29 2012: Don't forget that given half the chance, some people would stop evolution and the big bang being taught in schools
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    May 29 2012: GOD! we had the Jahova's come to my house saturday asking the same thing" should religion be separate from politics". My flatmate shes a nurse and science agnostic she told the female avangiist "its just a story the bible". I believe its a living word i live by and also fellowship. I just ended telling the guy avangilist it was nice of him to administer bible study as I hadnt had time to go to church. I still went though; sunday was day of Pentecost. I first off said when they came to the door: "where are you from? and they should be the together".Funnily enough my flatmate let them in. they just pushed and tried to convert us. it was funny when they left how my new flatmate an agnostic and her boyfriend a so called satenist and me a christian; what politics and views on religion we both have! you know they didnt even talk about the rligion and politics was it important!
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    May 26 2012: So that the people who do not subscribe to the reliigion do not get devoured by prejudice and so discenters have a hope of ocntributing and thriving in a culture.
  • May 15 2012: Religion and government should be inseperable, I'm saying this on the assumption that all religions are meant to be a means of social control.
    What I will always be against is the concept of a religion being a 'state religion'. This is because human society as it is now is grounded in diversity.
    As it stands,none of the world's major religion advocates intolerance and antisocial behaviours; but in places where such is apparent(e.g. Islamic nations), I will call this the 'flipside of democracy';because the majority supports a view and the expect everybody to see things as it is generally seen.
    How about minority rights? And is something right because a mass thinks it is?Should the whole world be democratic because a nation thinks it should?And if democracy is right,on what basis?
    Democracy is right as far as I'm concerned.Jesus said the gospel should be preached(forget the fact that so many people have trief to advance christainity without doing it the way Jesus commanded).
    Preaching is words, democracy is freedom of speech,if the bible says thou shall not kill(abortion), or no to homosexualism, or thou shall not commit adultery; I,as a christain will preach what the Bible says.
    But just like Jesus did not condemn anyone in his 33 years alive, it is not the duty of a christian to make laws that hinder personal choices that are not harmful to societal good.
    As a christain,if two men want to have sex,its fine.But they should not expect my approval,because my approval is based on the Biblr.
    At the same time,Homosexuals should not hope that the Islamic nations,with their age-long cultures and tradition, will accept them as christian nations do.
    Because the voice of the majority echoes a diversity of opinions in a diverse world
    Religion is private and societal; one society/individual trying to force his/her/their religion on another is a recipe for disaster.
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    May 9 2012: You can't tell a religious leader that he is wrong! In politics that's called a dictatorship. Think South Korea. There politics has become the religion. Each sucessive Kim is worshipped as the one true god.
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        May 9 2012: You misunderstand. I mean religeon is like a dictatorship becuase you can't disagree with the church without risk of persecution. That's why we need to keep religeon out of politics. The Kim dynasty is to north Korea what the popes are to catholicism. Most religeons are extreme examples of dictatorship because the leader (God) not only has ultimate authority but also omnipotence to back it up.
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      Jun 4 2012: Aren't you confusing South "May 9 2012: You can't tell a religious leader that he is wrong! In politics that's called a dictatorship. Think South Korea. There politics has become the religion. Each sucessive Kim is worshipped as the one true god." and North?
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    May 7 2012: Lindsy,

    I apologize for bombarding you with all the videos.. I think you'll find this video interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSMIlvE4114

    If I may add, I must say that you raise interesting points and if you don't mind I think I'll add a few of my own.

    I remember Noam Chomsky stating that ever since Jimmy Carter, one requirement for holding public office is that one had to proclaim to be a christian...If you ever get the chance to watch the documentary "Is God Green" you will see that since the 1980's, evangelical leaders started had started to merge with business leaders and politicians....it has gotten to the point that Bush Sr. stated that "atheist should not even be considered citizens"....ever since then the evangelical association of america has constantly influenced american politics (you see this w/the influences of people like Ted Haggard, Ralph Reed, Pat Robinson and Jerry Farwell).

    The influence of religious leaders on politics and business have led me to think about a couple of things:

    1) It has led politicians to focus and become impediments on things such as gay marriage, stem-cell research and abortion. I personally do not see how the first two are moral issues (the third may be up for debate). Anyhow the reason why I think they have become moral issues is due to religious influence and dogma. There is enough scientific evidence, reasoning and common sense to show that these really are not as bad as people are making them out to be. Since religion is in the value/meaning and metaphysical business, I think this has caused much more conflicts and impediments in these fields.

    2) ever since the creation of the public relations industry, the role of gov't and business was to understand what the public mind is thinking and I think this is the main reason why politicans have been concerned about religion as much as politics. Its all about conforming to the public mind to fulfill ones self interest.
  • May 6 2012: Individual liberty is priceless. I broke from religion while growing up and there was no compromising, because I am who I am. Civilization rests on compliance with the law, civil behavior, and natural forces. Oppression and/or regression is often imposed by authority - both parents and/or government. It is not a matter that can be justified by tradition, numbers etc., if you are willingly to concede the free will to believe what you believe is an individual entitlement to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Truth matters in what you think and believe. Are all the various and exotic religions (the belief in a supernatural power) true? The truth doesn't work that way. This is not just a personal issue, but ties to the state of the Union, just look around the world.

    Christopher Hitchens was and remains in my view the premier journalist and debater on this topic.
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    May 6 2012: When going over my outlines with my teacher, she said that what I had to say leads to more questions than answers- and I agree.

    Are there any secular countries currently operating with little to no involvement of religion in politics? I feel like there has to be. Perhaps Sweden? Maybe Switzerland? I find it's a little tough to research- especially within the databases I am provided- the most I get are newspaper/magazine articles vaguely brushing the topic.

    Also, I truly do not want to come across as attacking the other side. I want to provide the most logical and concise argument I can, but at the same time show my passion and my stance on the argument. Can anyone offer advice as to how I can do this? Or how I can easily keep some fluidity in my writing while discussing either side?

    This topic is much more delicate and tricky than I anticipated...
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      May 9 2012: I would argue that valuable commodity in this debate is the individual. Since a dynamic of the individual is spirituality and religion I think your conclusion is fallacious. In fact I would argue that the opposite of your statement is true, by evidence :

      "From my research, I am convinced that the destructive roles of religion used in the decisioin-making realms of government can be detrimental towards the evolution of humanity. Freedom of religion is also freedom from religion, and religious involvement often creates more problems than solves. "

      I think this author is one point of view and you have not looked enough at the other point of view as with Hillsdale.

      My view is that religion and government should be separate but to take it anything further than it is already would be to deny an individual an integral dynamic.
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    May 6 2012: I regard religion as a wider range than spiritualism that adds commands that ascribed to God and should be executed by us.

    Basically the main purpose of religion that has imposed upon us, namely: the continuing expansion of awareness and carry out the commands of God with sincerity to reach long lasting happiness in harmony.

    For beginners:

    - To achieve the expansion of consciousness & dutifully doing good according to the direction of religion that should be done with sincerity, it would require a very strong ego control (we lead the ego). It's very difficult when someone is actually located in an environment (politics) that tends to put the ego as a leader for us. We must put our leadership in this condition within personal & family, and to put forward SUGGESTIONS & ASSISTANCE to others.

    For the enlightened:

    - For those who believe direct guidance from God, and for those who have achieved the expansion of consciousness and has received direct instructions from God to become LEADER WITH DOMINATION, then there is no problem with this, because if so, of course someone will always be guided and corrected, & he/she can find out to what extent he/she should lead or should resign, so the behavior does not endanger his/her goodness and his/her sincerity to God, and still can achieve (continuing) wider awareness in the future.

    If this is done, then the religion not only improve the lives peacefully gradually, but it can make us more vigilant about where we should put ourselves in accordance to the development of ourselves, without having to judge something, but flowing in the right direction.

    Religion should be separated from politics not because of religion is bad influence to politics, but when politics can ruin our religious behavior (if we are not vigilant enough).

    Religion does not overcome the world, but religion in collaboration with the world to further improve the world. Why? Since religion requires the world to realize its objectives.

    Less or more ..
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    May 5 2012: I think you must first define religion before trying to separate it from anything. If it is a belief system then you will have a problem separating it as Peter below states. As we all have beliefs, the stronger you hold on to it the greater the chance of fighting for it.

    I think it's unfair to lay the blame on religion for wars. For while there are and have been "religious"wars there are huge numbers of non-religious wars, which to me suggest that within the human psyche there is a deeper reason for the cause of wars. How about greed ,fear, tribalism?

    I would suggest that for a reporter looking at a controversial issue, that to research the topic on both sides might be of value. The works you quote support the pro side of your argument , but you don't have any sources to the contrary.
    May I suggest one for the opposition , Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Scepticism by Timothy Keller
    • Timo X

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      May 19 2012: "I think it's unfair to lay the blame on religion for wars. For while there are and have been "religious"wars there are huge numbers of non-religious wars, which to me suggest that within the human psyche there is a deeper reason for the cause of wars. How about greed ,fear, tribalism?"
      I think it is generally true that mentally healthy people can only be aggressively violent if they have dehumanized their enemy. This dehumanization can occur when there is an emphasis on the differences between 'us' and 'them'. Religion is certainly not a unique cause of differences between people, there are many others. Religion is also not a necessary cause for war: if everyone shared the exact same religion, there would not be religious wars. However, the reality is that not everyone has the exact same religion and that religion offers the tools for dehumanization readily (they have no soul, they are heretics, etc.). That is the reason that religion is often instrumental, even though not the root cause, in the creation of violence and war.
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    May 5 2012: Religion is one of these slippery words which I would normally associate with pointless pomp & ritual. As such it is largely irrelevant to politics. I guess what you really mean is 'belief system'.(BS) A person would not be much of a politician if he/she had no BS. Lots of folk have no particular BS & go along with whatever is imposed on them.
    Someone once said, "The one thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history".
    We should note that materialism (atheism) is also a BS. It is the belief that the material world is all there is. Looking at history we find that most of the current BS have ruled nations at one time or another. Some have allowed their people to vote, some haven't. It would be instructive to make a list, starting with where you would most like to live, & check out their underlying BS. One thing is sure, you will never separate politics & BS.

    :-)
    • Timo X

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      May 19 2012: Beliefs are only necessary where there is no knowledge. For example, a politician may be against euthanasia because he believes that it is wrong (for whatever reason). Another one may be for it, because he believes it is right (again, for whatever reason). These two politicians can have a difference of opinion, because there is now way to know whether euthanasia is wrong or right. 'Right' and 'wrong' in this respect are moral issues and, as such, they are properties assigned by humans. They are truly part of a belief system and thus they do not exist in the sense that chairs and atoms and stars exist.

      The existence of god is not such an issue: he either exists or he doesn't. The existence of god is not subject to opinion, it is only a question of whether it is true. All religions claim existence of god (with Buddhism as a possible exception), but god has never been observed. Of course, it could be that we simply haven't found the guy yet and that he's still floating around somewhere, unlikely as it may seem. More damning (haha), is that most religions also stake significant claims on other things that can and have been observed, such as the creation of Earth or human beings. In most cases, reality has proven to differ significantly from these religious claims. Nevertheless, religion urges people to believe in these things in defiance of reality. These believers do not simply have a different belief system than I, they have an erroneous idea of what constitutes reality.

      The idea that "materialism (atheism) is also a belief system" serves no other purpose than truth relativism: they don't know the truth either. This, however, is not true. A fundamental assumption of materialism (and science in general) is that truth can be known through observation. From that, all else follows. Dismissing this idea as 'just another belief system' is a mockery of materialism, atheism and scientific achievements in general.
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    May 5 2012: i think when you include religion within politics it will encourage racism!!
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    May 4 2012: In America we are free to choose our politics and our religion. In such an atmosphere voters choose the candidates who most closely align with their own religious beliefs regarding those issues where beliefs are a factor. I suspect you are conflating separation of church and state with separation of religion and politics. The former is an essential part of the American Way. The latter is a practical impossibility.