Thursday, January 8, 2015

Politics and Religion

Religion is necessarily bound up with politics because religion encompasses the worldview, beliefs about morality, and (most important) social status of believers.  Religion and politics are more than simply inextricably intertwined; they are different sides of the same coin.  Yet, those anxious to defend religion often try to deflect criticism by claiming that the numerous bad deeds done in its name are "political" rather than religious.

Claiming that religion is separate from politics is another of those baldfaced lies that the religious try to slip into debates.  Like most of their lies, they have convinced themselves it is true.  And, if you look at it from just the right angle, it can seem true.  After all, one's personal beliefs about the afterlife don't seem to have to much to do with politics. 

The trouble is that the only way to sustain this viewpoint is to pretend that religion is a far smaller part of a person's life than it actually is.  You have to ignore the mountain of evidence to the contrary as well as the obvious logical implications of believing in a religion.  You have to pretend that religion is a circumscribed and simple set of beliefs instead of a worldview.

The only believers who can legitimately make this claim are deists and the like who believe that a god exists but who don't make any claims to knowledge about the nature, thoughts, and edicts of god.  Consequently, I think a good reply to this claim is to point out that a person who claims to be speaking for god in some fashion is essentially claiming that everyone on Earth needs to listen and obey.  If that isn't a political statement, I don't know what is.

After all, one is claiming to be imparting the wishes of the being that allegedly made the entire universe, including the Earth and all of us.  The thoughts and wishes of such an entity, if it existed, would and should be of paramount importance to us all.  Such an entity must be in possession of a great deal more knowledge and wisdom that any human or group of humans and such an entity must also possess a great deal of power of one sort or another over us all.

Combine those implications with the ways in which religions everywhere seek to coerce human behavior through threats, promises and other manipulations, it should be easy to see that all religions are political and not an aside but as their primary concern.

Frankly, to a nonbeliever it is obvious that religion has always been political.  It is clear that even in its very genesis, religion was political because it was always meant to be a way to manipulate the behavior of others.  Even its simplest and most basic function, conquering the fear of death, is political.  The goal is to get people to accept their own death and the deaths of others with a minimum of grief and attendant disruption.

Consequently, if you hear this ridiculous canard, I recommend saying:

If your religion claims to know what god wants from mankind, then it is political.


When you claim to speak for god, you are making a political statement because you are claiming to know what everyone should think or do.

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