Politics and Religion- where should the two intersect?

Politics and religion have always had a complex relationship. Remember the sages and kings in India? The church and state in the west?

Understanding this equation was never going to be easy.

In India religion and politics seem to be inseparable. Caste politics, which flow from a base of Hinduism, is rampant. Communal forces seek to capitalize on polarization of votes, minorities try to figure out some way to stand together so that no harm befalls them, and others who brand themselves as the true defenders of secularism often sound fake. All countries go through this tension.

Most spiritual leaders seem to be at a loss and are unable to bring genuine influence to the politics of the land. And the politicians seem to have very little basis for their so-called spiritual leanings. Much strife and little reasoning is the order of the day. Most individuals go through their own struggle in this regard.

How would you define yourself?

Are you fundamentally political yet trying to fit in some belief into your world-view, or are you fundamentally religious hoping your faith influences your political view.

I believe a person’s genuine spiritual conviction can play a crucial role in the administrating of a people or a nation. Good people are key—not just good in their area of competence but primarily good in their character.

This is where spirituality comes in.

People like Martin Luther and William Wilberforce were hugely influential in politics. Martin Luther was a church leader and a social activist who as the leader of the SCLC, maintained a policy of not publicly endorsing a U.S. political party or candidate: “I feel someone must remain in the position of non-alignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both—not the servant or master of either.” In a 1958 interview, he expressed his view that neither party was perfect, saying, “I don’t think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses … And I’m not inextricably bound to either party.”

Wilberforce was convinced of the importance of religion, morality and education. He championed many causes and campaigns: the Society for the Suppression of Vice, the Church Mission Society, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and others.

His underlying conservatism led him to support politically and socially repressive legislation. In later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery.

But is religious legislation the way forward?

I found this talk by Ravi Zacharias interesting. Here he says, “Anytime religion is politicized it’s in danger of extinction.”

What do you think?

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