Of Religion and Politics

You must admit that title got your attention didn’t it? It didn’t? Why not? Was it a little on the dry side perhaps?

It could be that both are two of the most divisive subjects around and you will be hard pushed to find two people with exactly the same opinion and or belief. Many people go to great length to avoid an argument and many nowadays have an inbuilt indifference to both.

Take me for instance; I am a passionate Humanist, a firm believer in the core principles of socialism and an atheist. Each one of those will make at least one of you start to rumble somewhere in the back of your mind with a little voice saying ‘tut tut tut’ and your head subtly moving side to side whilst a soft resigned sigh escapes your lips.

But lets stop and think about this for just a moment. What are the core principles the vast majority of us believe in? I’d argue that those principles are the core principles of all our beliefs be we Christians, Tories, Muslims or Liberals or agnostics (in terms of religion or politics).

I believe that we should all aim to be as good to other people as we can, that where possible equality should be an ideal be it health care, race, sex or a whole range of areas. I believe in a whole range of similar things that are core not only to socialism and Humanists but also to the major religions and most political parties and hopefully to you.

So why so many arguments, why so much fighting in the world and why so much discourse?

I think it’s all down to the detail of how you achieve those ideals and this is where the politics and the detail of religion comes in and messes it all up. It’s also what probably drives many younger people away from being actively interested in politics, with the never ending ‘see sawing’ between parties not having a vast effect on the lives of many young people who naturally live in the now rather than looking too far down the road of life.

I’ve been reading a few biographies and in particular two of eminent left wing British politicians: Michael Foot and Tony Benn. The first thing to note is that the majority of the text concentrates on differences within their own party and the battles to get their opinions heard and in many cases to get their view of socialism excepted as the default version of socialism for the party.

In fact there are often seen to be more difference internally than there are between these famous members of parliament and members of other parties which, although I wasn’t naïve enough to think otherwise, brought into stark relief the idea of political parties. These are organisations which are seen as groups of people all of the same mind but quite plainly they are not. Of course being humans none of us are of exactly the same mind, we are individuals.

Another surprising thing that the books revealed was some of the behind the scenes things such as Margaret Thatcher in tears at a memorial service for a well know far left Labour politician and the close friendship of Michael Foot with a right wing Tory supporting newspaper tycoon. These are the human aspects of politics and are reflected by similar relationships such as the friendships that well know Atheist evangelist Richard Dawkins has with some members of the British clergy.

But then again I thought about my relationships. I have some very good friends who are Christians or Tories (although they could be either or both). I worked for over ten years for a Christian organisation (where many of these friendships were made) and the one thing that we all had in common was not our religion (or lack of it in my case) but our moral frame work.

The workers within that organisation though predominantly Christian in persuasion never discussed religion precisely because of the differences between their various flavours of Christianity – Methodists, Catholics etc. But we all got along because we were there to provide a service for the good of the community, we were all there for those basic principles I mentioned above.

Thank goodness for human differences and variety say I and lets celebrate them but lets also celebrate those core principles we all share.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Of Religion and Politics

  1. I think part of the problem is that people put on these labels, and then insist if you wear a different label, you are “wrong” and must be “fixed”. Adding to the problem is the inherent divisiveness that is coming through on a lot of “politically correct” language, which seeks to promote our differences rather than our similarities. We become so invested in our point of view that we refuse to compromise or seek similarities, and therefore the gulfs between us grow wider and wider rather than narrowing.

    I don’t know the answer. I think it probably has to do with people refuting labels and sitting down and really trying to compromise rather than desperately trying to force others to see that they are “right” or “wrong.”

  2. I’m a firm believer in humanism too. I think if the world were populated by humanist with a vested interest in the welfare of all other humans we’d be a less divisive world. Religion has been the cause of so much death over the years as each one jockeys for the position of sole or t least predominant faith. Politics is divisive because each side looks for the way to gain votes while lining it’s pockets and doing the least for it’s constituents. They decide what’s best for us instead of asking us what we’d like.
    I’d say the only taboo subject you didn’t raise was football so I’ll leave that one alone.John.
    I hope one day we can reach a place where man cares for mankind rather than himself and can put all differences aside.

  3. As an American who has served in the Armed Forces (U.S. Army) I firmly believe in the separation of Church and State. Unless you’re sacrificing animals or children or are engaging in some harmful illegal activities I believe government needs to stay out of folks faiths. I loathe and despise the way the Right Wing Extremist Tea Party claims to represent Christianity. They are worse than the moronic televangelists on the Word Network. Not only do these so-called Red, White and Blue Congressmen and Senators make laws that hurt ordinary citizens, the poor, disabled and the disadvantaged they claim their right wing stance is in line with Jesus Teachings! I don’t know what Bible they are reading but Jesus fed and clothed the poor, he healed the sick and nearly all his friends and followers were “sinners” or better put those who missed the mark, In fact in Jesus day the Pharisees and Sadducees could not understand how or why a Prophet and Teacher would hang out with society’s undesirables.

    However I’m happy to say that gradually Christianity is evolving. Today’s 21st Christians are moving towards the Gospel of Inclusion and getting away from the Fire and Brimstone teachings of my youth. I want to end with an example of how two seemingly dissimilar faiths can work together to produce results.

    Sharing Today’s Great Praise Report and Testimony. Just think of me as a Baptist Buddhist! LOL!! Morning Miracle: I found $9 on my doorstep. The days before payday are difficult. However I believe my Buddhist Shinnyo meditation helped me to better focus my prayers and we know that God answers prayers no matter if you’re Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim. I live in a Brownstone in Brooklyn, NY and there are lots of weed smokers in my neighborhood. Lots of Cheech & Chong moments as they seem to like gathering in front of other peoples homes and sitting on their stoops. Hey all the better for me since I was really broke. Toke on Brothers and Sisters and feel free to leave me more money! Jesus and Buddha both definitely have a sense of humor!!

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