“We have claimed to be a fellowship of compassion and caring and sharing, but as Christians we often sanctify sociopolitical systems that belie this, where the rich how richer and the poor grow ever poorer, where we seem to sanctify a furious competitiveness, as ruthless as can only be appropriate to the jungle.”—Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu
So it’s been a tumultuous couple of weeks for me. I want to say that I’m thriving but, well, I’m most definitely not. My finances are in the gutter, I’m still heartbroken that John is moving to L.A. this week, I’m confused about where Kyle and I stand in our friendship or whatever it is we are this week, and I don’t know how I’m going to be able to get to Friday, let alone graduation in December. Still, I feel like I shouldn’t be complaining; like I have nothing to really be that upset about. I keep wondering to myself when things are going to pick up for me and if I’ll get at least a little bit of clarity. A simple nudge in the right direction would be amazing. If you know who I need to contact to arrange said nudge, feel free to leave me an AskBox message with his or her contact information. Kthx.
“Children who are victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem for our government.”—
Tim “Not My Problem” Pawlenty explaining why providing healthcare to children under the protection of juvenile court for abuse and/or neglect isn’t something the government should do. (via jonathan-cunningham)
1. Secularization has had peculiar outcomes in the United States, specifically because it has triggered such a backlash form the religious community (especially the evangelical Christian community). Other religions including (it appears) American Judaism and Islam, do not object nearly as much to this system. Perhaps this is because Christians constitute such a great majority that they feel threatened by a shift in the status quo, or perhaps because Christianity is engrained in the United States’ history, but regardless, secularization is seen as a grave threat.
American secularization goes hand-in-hand with religious backlash because the religion in power, though not an official “state religion”, threatens the dominance that faith commands; this is something the religious community will not tolerate.
3. While they mar refuse to acknowledge it, Wahhabis and Evangelicals appear to be nearly indistinguishable in their religiosity and interaction with the political sphere. One phrase stuck out to me in particular: “my religion is a lifestyle, not just a church.” That is the key ideological component most people miss; political participation and engagement isn’t a tactic to these believers, but rather a mandate. It is important to note that not all Wahhabis and evangelicals are extremists or fundamentalists. They believe every word in their respective religious texts is a command—an order which must be obeyed. They also believe they are to spread that word. Perhaps a better name for both groups is “literalist”.
5. The “wall of separation” in the United States has had a distinct character from France’s “laicité”; that difference involve which entity—church or state—has the upper hand in the struggle. While the United States’ “separation of Church and State” was intended for both groups, Church still wields considerable influence over the state and its politics. Church groups lobby the legislature and form crucial voting blocs which have the power to decide elections. Here, the Church has the upper hand. France’s “laicité” has had the opposite effect, to the point that the government actually exercises considerable control over religious practice. This is evident in the French government’s banning of the bourqua and bourquini from public use.
6. Religiosity is key tot eh study of politics and religion because it allows us to distinguish between the “Holidays-only Catholic” and the “fundamentalist, orthodox Baptist”. Two political systems can function with the same proportion of “religious” people, but only how strongly they practice their respective faiths determines how much interaction there is between politics and religion.
Our speaker from the National Association of Evangelicals is much more fervent in his faith than I, a Catholic who doesn’t necessarily believe the Pope knows it all or that The Bible is 100% correct. My religion plays absolutely no factor in my political stances, whereas our speaker relies heavily on his religious texts and doctrine for his views.
From my personal experience, it is incredibly easy to quote the United States and Christianity as examples when discussing religion and politics in other countries, even those without a significant number of Christians. That comparison ignores the key components of the development of religion and state in other countries, even those that do also have Christian majorities.
As an American who was raised both Catholic and Protestant, I can comfortably say that comparing even those two branches of the same religion and how they interact with the State is more than a little disingenuous. Those differences are magnified once a Christian sect is compared with a Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other religion’s interactions in the political realm. The issues are different, the degrees of engagement are different…even how much sway that interaction actually has varies wildly on a case-by-case basis. The only begins to cover the interactions between Church and State.
Another key component which is distorted by ethnocentric analogies is the degree of secularization in a particular state. The United States has it’s “wall of separation” and france has “laicité”, but some states have no legal barrier between Church and State. It is the American’s biased gut-reaction to assume that societies with out that “wall” are dysfunctional, but that couldn’t be further from the case. Egypt, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates all recognize Islam as their state religion: this doesn’t mean that minority religions aren’t sage or that religious laws threaten people’s rights.
Americans and others have to realize that various systems and degrees of interaction between religion and state have always existed, succeeded, and thrived. No one system can claim to be superior; in the United States, you have religious turmoil in every election cycle, in France, the ostracization or those who wear the traditional hijab, and other systems also have their dirtier aspects, but viewing the interplay between religion and politics through an ethnocentric lens completely misconstrues the true situation and makes an argument less comprehensible to someone outside that cultural bias.
Yeah. It’s been a tough legislative session for them. But the fact that marriage was within 4 votes of passing the House of Delegates the year after my representative was discussing how we do our change incrementally is a huge success.
“Tanks beat the Internet. If you’re willing to shoot enough people, you can defeat online movements.”—Google chairman Eric Schmidt, discussing the limits of social media “revolutions” during a talk at U.C. Santa Barbara (via cnnmoneytech)
“It’s so easy. I drop a 25 percent tax on China. I said to somebody that it’s really the messenger, the messenger is important. I could have one man say, [High-pitched voice] ‘We’re going to tax you 25 percent.’ And I could say another: ‘Listen you motherfuckers, we’re gonna tax you 25 percent.’ Now, you said the same exact thing but it’s a different messenger.”—Donald Trump, Professional Douchebag