I'm not sure if this is as big an issue where other members live, but in the US there's always attention on the separation of church and state. There are differing narratives over US history, one that points out the establishment of secularism and a more revisionist one trying to establish the concept of a 'Christian Nation' by way of the supposed beliefs/ideas of the Founding Fathers.
Appealing to religion (or rather, Christianity) and its role in public life is a common (though unfortunate, imo) tactic by politicians in getting support. Invoking god and creating an image of a 'faithful' man or woman is common place among public officials here. The White House Christmas special is a yearly event. The president and his family are expected to attend church weekly. Those that deviate, or perceived to deviate, from this position get drawn into fire. The fervor and attention over the 'religion' of Obama or Congressmen like Keith Ellison who drew rage from some (and continues to) when he requested to be sworn in on a Koran rather than a Bible due to his personal beliefs.
Never mind the legislation in this country that gets tied up with religious questions- ethical things from scientific research (stem cells), birth control, abortion, prayer in public schools, etc. This has been common for some time.
Point being that even with this idea that religion is to be kept to a personal or private sphere, and respecting the freedom of one's religious choices, in the US it's very much a powerful force in determining votes and legislation, as well as public 'mood'. Governor Perry, with his numbers low in the Republican primary opinion polls, attempted to get back the energy he had when he entereted the race before his debate gaffes by trying to 'capitalize' on this energy. It was spread through the internet and very much lampooned.
Though this is what some people do believe in. While not as blunt as Perry's desperation ad, the push for 'Christian' values in political life still is a way to get support. Gingrich, another republican primary candidate and high in the opinion polls now, did write a book last year titled "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine" which was widely bought among the potential voters he was targeting.
What are your thoughts on the role of religion in politics? Is it a cheap tactic? Legitimate? To be embraced? How is it where you live?
I live in the U.S. with you and I have noted this recent trend. To be honest it's upsetting and getting worse as we go along. The well-oiled propoganda machine the Republicans have placed forth has had a great impact on voters for a very long time. Religion in my opinion is a low tactic and is used to make one candidate appear better over another. To have a state religion goes against what the Founding Fathers had appeared to have in mind when they had coined the Constitution. Whoever got the impression that they wanted to have Christianity as the sole religion, they are dead wrong.
Religion in politics in the past has blown up in the faces of leaders pressing for a certain religion to be followed by the people. It is unwise for them to use this as a selling point and I wish that this end immediately for the reason it could lead to problems down the road if left unattended.
(repeat in history anyone?)
I think its in everyones interest if their was just a seperation of politics and religion. Oddly, for me, it comes from the Opposite side, I think its spiritually damaging to try and make faith something that controls state affairs, I mean you get people who seem to confuse "Faith" with "Nationalism" and all sorts. As a Christian, I think Churches shouldnt be looking towards power in the Government, but looking towards the streets, who cares about what the government are doing, when whatever they do their will always be victims of society and helping them is more importent than lobbying in goverment for "pro-christian laws" or being pawns for politicians or whatever.
If you want a good read on the effects of a religiously inspired politics or vice-versa, check out American Fascism: The Christian Right and the War on America. Written by Christopher Hedges.
EDIT: Remember, that's Hedges, not Hitchens ;)
"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.
The American way is quite ridiculous. It's a bit sad how the one-party political system in a country that supposedly has separation between state and church is all about religion, whilst even a Catholic, Timo Soini from the nationalist party The Finns, can be taken seriously as a presidential candidate in mine. This although we have a Christian party in the government, religion is a school subject, the military arranges mandatory worship for conscripts and even secular companies pay church tax, etc.
One of our presidential candidates, Pekka Haavisto from the Green League, a former minister, is openly gay and it is a non-issue except with the most extreme of the far-right. Our parliament clown, from the nationalist party The Finns, went as far as to invite Haavisto to his home to meet his parents as an apology for his language towards gay people, and this guy wasn't as offensive as Perry to begin with.
There was a minor debate about whether the candidates would continue the tradition of ending the president's traditional New Year's speech by wishing the Finnish people God's blessing, but I'm not sure if anyone actually cares.
Hehehe, one day we'll all learn to look in the mirror and laugh at ourselves and each other for how we used to act. That or we'll destroy ourselves with nuclear weapons, which ever comes first :)
"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.
Religion has always been a part of US politics. Politicians dial it up or down in accordance with what they think will help them gain in polls and I suppose to some extent with what they actually believe.
Perhaps we're not as enlightened as the perfect nation of Finland but I would say while religion is an issue it's not as central to life and politics as it appears to me to be in other parts of the world, such as the middle east for example.
Of course not, but I guess it's sort of one of those things we've added to our reputation as Americans, you know in addition to obesity and fast-food. Shit like that.
But the numbers don't lie, from what I remember the majority of the US subscribes to a particular religion or denomination and is an active worshiper. Of course we're not like the Mid-East, but it would only take the combined leadership of the televangelists to return us to the dark-ages. And it's people like that that give decent, religious-folk a bad rep.
"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.
Professor Dr. Scientist;5593876 Perhaps we're not as enlightened as the perfect nation of Finland but I would say while religion is an issue it's not as central to life and politics as it appears to me to be in other parts of the world, such as the middle east for example.
Comparing your country to the Middle East looks pretty desperate, but considering a nation currently suffering the rise of neo-fascism (the leader of the fascist organisation Suomen Sisu and three other members were elected to parliament as members of nationalist party The Finns) to be perfect is in my opinion somewhat worse. =p