Have you ever tried to pour some water and oil in a cup of glass and see what happen? You are right, nothing. You know that water and oil does not mix at all as much as of you try they never mix and that’s precisely a good example of what religion and politics should be: they can coexist each other but to joint together is just bad idea.
Why a bad Idea? It’s simple: just take one of them into a room filled with all kind of people and for sure will be at least an argument but bring up both together, and something bad is going to happen. The reason? Is that those concepts, are two of the most important topics in our lives like it or not more important than sports and even the news. Some of your decisions will be taken according to what you believe is right about those topics, and you are not going to find a single person who really does not have an idea or an opinion about those concepts. Also, you are going to find people out there who really like those two to be together but, they are not majority. Religion has to do with what we believe about God, life, morals, and eternity. The big picture stuff. Politics is the art of government, order, society, and community.
According to Rev. Cwirla (2013) “Religion deals primarily with eternal things, things “not of this world,” or at least things hidden “in, with, and under” the things of this world. Politics deals with temporal matters: roads, taxes, welfare, marriage, safety, protection.” It seems that at first look, they don’t have anything to do with each other. But it’s not always like that so to better understand, let’s introduce a little bit of history to get more deeply.
Historically, religion and politics have been taking place hand to hand in a very significant part in our everyday lives, looking back to the ancient Pharaohs of Africa for example to our modern-day society, religion has had a profound effect on our existence as a society.
Religion was the principal and active social force in ancient Egypt. Religious influence was pervasive affecting almost everything. It Transformed from simple polytheism to philosophic monotheism, with every community having a guardian deity which personified the powers of nature. Ancient Egyptian literature and philosophy had religious undertones. Ancient Egyptian art was deliberately an expression of religious symbolism. Egypt, like any other African state in that particular time was deeply religious, with every city and town having its own peculiar deity as the “Lord of the city”.
Government and religion were inseparable in ancient Egypt. The Pharaoh was the head of state and the divine representative of the gods on earth. Religion and government brought order to society through the construction of temples, the creation of laws, taxation, the organization of labor, trade with neighbors and the defense of the country’s interests. The Pharaoh was assisted by a hierarchy of advisors, priests, officials and administrators, who were responsible for the affairs of the state.
In the Christian Religion, the relationship between Church and state can be tracked down to the Old Testament every time God directed His prophets to send instructions and warnings challenging the state leaders, These included prophets Nathan, Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Jeremiah, Isaiah, among others. These prophets challenged the rulers whenever they departed from the will of God for the people of Israel. In the New Testament, we find Jesus always at cross roads with some authorities and his death was judicial. Ratzinger (2001) says “that Christ’s words remain fundamental; render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God things that are God’s. This saying opened up a new section in the history of relationship between politics and religion” (p. 99). The following years saw violent deaths executed by the state in the name of religion. The eventual harmony between religion and politics was when Emperor Constantine claimed a victory in a critical battle given by Jesus in a vision. From then on, everything in the state was mixed with religion.
There are plenty of example on how religion is involved with politics in our world, must of them can be found in our own backyard. There are many religions out there and any single one has the own identity, but we are going to name few of them to make our case. One of the most predominant is the influence of Catholicism as one of the three principal religions from the middle east specifically in Latin American politics. Countries like Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela who count with the majority percent of membership and analyzing the kind of effect of religion into the above-mentioned societies the introduction of religion into politics has proven to be suppressive and counterproductive to most third world countries, and various subcultures in first world countries. A movement derivate from Catholicism called Protestantism have been a surge since the 1980’s, it has increased in big numbers along with another denomination called Pentecostal to make sure that it presence is recognized in the political plane.
The political set of operation of a specifically Protestant identity has been for sure more stablished marked there than in the rest of the world in recent decades. Since the beginning of this century, Protestantism had become the religion of perhaps 45 percent of all Latin Americans. In Brazil has reach more than 20 percent; in Guatemala surpass 25 percent. In countries like Uruguay, Paraguay etc. it’s above 20 percent. Protestantism, and Pentecostalism, are directly associated with the poor, the less educated and colored people. Membership is predominantly female. And although it doesn’t have the classic Protestant work ethic and operates in a very different economic context, evidence exist that people present a better type of lifestyle, community among member is better and so their economic perspective meaning that their capacity of survival is greater in every simple scale.
Islam as a second to mention here, is considered as one of the largest religions in the world, with over 1 billion followers. Their faith and belief are strictly monotheistic based on revelations received by the Prophet Muhammad in 7th-century Saudi Arabia. The political heritage of Muslims is embodied in the works of a selection of prominent Shi’a and Sunni jurists, philosophers and theologians,
The Qur’an, the Sunnah (the sayings and living habits of Muhammad), is where political aspects of Islam are derived from. Along with Muslim history, and elements of political movements outside Islam.
Now, as a last group comforting the religion and politics of the Middle East, history is also present in the way they founded their belief. After all, the three great monotheistic religions find their roots in the Middle East. About four thousand years ago Judaism was founded and it’s considered to be the first religion to believe in one God. One belief that predominates over other essentials beliefs is that Jews are the ‘chosen people’ by God’s will and it is through this religious sentiment that their “communal identity” comes from their faith itself. Hence, the Jews have placed their religion at the center of their life, community and the political place
The important role of religion in politics arises partly from the history of the region. Historically, both religion and tradition went hand in hand to form the government systems of the region. Modernity in terms of “secularism, individualism, democracy, and economic rationalism” has had little latitude over the Middle East as a whole. Governments use religion to justify their authoritative political systems within the Middle East. The concept or the basic beliefs, and ideology are comprised of three essential beliefs: The belief in God, obeying his moral laws, and believing in the after-life. Submission to God is directly followed by obeying the moral standards of everyday life.
Bernard (1984). Wrote according to his studies about the disrupted situation among those middle east faiths the following: “there can be no real distinction between Jewish religious beliefs and Israeli politics and society. History tells us that Jews, like Christians and Muslims have used religion to justify and legitimate expansion and warfare” (p.74).
We have seen how in different cultures, beliefs and concepts are been taking a path in what religion and political are concerned. Let’s see: According to the Bible God was with the Jewish when they fought enemies on Zion. Christianism and Islam used religious porpoises to launch the Holy war to retake Jerusalem from Muslims back to 1.096. That massacre of Muslims took place for political gain which was a deed of the crusaders and were justified through Christianity when Pope Urban II was in charge of the early church. In our days the situation is not quite ease, in the Middle East there are different scenarios where politics mixed with religion has brought tense talking as a last resort to avoid huge confrontations between Israel and Palestine in a dispute for a land that both sides claim as their. Islamic Sharia or Islamic laws in one side and Jewish Halakah in the other side. It’s good to mention the above because it reflects how religion is in the middle of a political scenario where diplomacy in getting out of reach and nothing appears to ease this conflict but is a good example to show how religion and politics may not suit well at all.
Another issue that it may represent it’s the fact that it could allow ground for terrorist organizations like Gush Emunin in the past, Hamas in the present along with ISIS who have caused so much death and destruction of property like never before.
I believe in democracy as the only way to solve this kind of conflicts and if not proper action is taken, consequences are going to be irreversible.
The turn in this essay goes about religion in the USA. According to Reimer (1968) “The United States has no nationally established religion because no religion was constituted by the framers of the constitution. While not shunning religion, they greatly valued individual rights and knew the danger an established religion could do to those rights” (p.124). USA is considered as the land of freelancers. Healey (2003) wrote” As immigrants traveled to the United States they depended on their religion and ethnicities to empower and unify their peers. The power of religion for most of American history is seen through the occurrence of a denominational struggle in society. As the so-called “melting pot” sought to meld the ethnicities that separated the many communities of American society, it was religion that helped to maintain communal separation. As assimilation proceeded, ethnic group boundaries faded, but religious boundaries did not” (p.51).
I could include myself here since I’m one of those more than 50 million according to statistics, been Christian for the last 35 years and 18 of those in this country have allow me to experience so many grateful situations to grow my faith and yes others no so grateful but for the same porpoise: to learn.
I Have met people from different denomination to come forward about their experiences, some of them sadly quitting their faith because it has been a challenge to find a job or a place to live that would not cause interference but choices were made. What’s my point here? The fact that religion apart from politics, allows you to meet people, to learn from them, to help them and of course to grow with them. It’s when as I stated in the beginning where if you are in a room or a place to talk, you create arguments if not it just a brawl.
Diversity in the USA is so big that many people sometimes feel disoriented and tend to change their belief or just simply abandon it so Protestant denominations, once dominant, have seen a reduced number of membership opting to choose a generic label, calling themselves simply Christians non-denominational while Muslim on the other side, have seen their number to duplicate.
As a conclusion, there are many difference between what the Church job is, and the state’s job is. The church’s job is not to govern or redeem society; the state’s job is not to preach the Gospel or is not the church’s job to tell people to vote specifically for someone or the state should not tell the people why pray or worship.
I believe that religion and politics are a good mix because they need each other to reach those who are in a specific place, each one has their own guidelines and functions to proper handle every issue properly. Another job of the church is to proclaim the kingdom of Christ, baptize, reach out the community, forgive. The state needs to protect, to serve, to enforce the law, both needs to listen to each other and give an opinion and learn to share it, the mix of politics and religion is really a one-way mixture, however. Our faith improves our political thinking, but our politics should never influence our faith. Faith relies solely on the Word of God, while politics involves the use of reason. Reason is always a minister to the Word, never its master. There will be situations where both concepts are going to need to work together to resolve a situation and that’s fine to me. Apart of that they “must” be apart
It’s very important to keep in mind one last thing: Politics is temporal; faith in Christ is eternal. Entire countries and cities of this world, including our own, will all pass away and are destined for destruction. But the kingdom of Christ will never pass away

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