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News What say should the church have in politics?

  1. Yes

    3 vote(s)
  2. No

    6 vote(s)
  3. Don't know/care?

    2 vote(s)
  4. Maybe?

    2 vote(s)
  5. I think my country should be 100% secular

    9 vote(s)
  6. I think the Church should have more say in my country

    1 vote(s)
  7. The church should have no influence whatsoever

    14 vote(s)
  8. The Church should be the ruling authority on all things

    0 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Mar 25, 2008 #1

    And then today...


    Not that this will make any difference, but it does allow a minority of members to have their say.

    It seems The Church frustrated at the moral decline of the UK is ever more vocal these days, but being as most people are somewhat secular in the UK - at least by a small majority - no one really takes their views that seriously. But I would be interested to find out how much influence "The Church"/state religion/theocracy has in your country and whether this is a good thing or a bad thing?

    Do you think the Church has any right at all to dictate politics, or influence politics? Except of course in terms of individual members of governments personal views, which is all part of the democratic process. Should Church leaders be able, for example, to say that condoms are against the law, or abortion or ESCR, or homosexuality? Or any of the issues that have been common place in the media? With Jewish Rabbis saying that homosexuality caused Earth quakes and English Bishops saying homosexuality caused floods, are these people given too much of a voice, or is it a good thing to show how stupid there views are? Muslim Clerics burning Western flags and inciting rioting in order to protest Danish cartoons. Or actually being the government? Is this a good thing for the world, and in your neck of the woods do you think The Church has too much or too little say?

    What do you think?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 25, 2008 #2


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    I guess a more generic question would be - can any single individual speak for a large group? Does one surrender one's own ideas to a group, which then must defer to some individual authority?

    Even if I belong to a group/institution, I retain the right to speak for myself, and I think ALL political and religious leaders need to be mindful of that.

    Certainly, anyone may offer his or her opinion in public discourse, but let us acknowledge, it is simply one's opinion.

    Ideally, in a democratic society, the population arrives at some consensus regarding a particular moral position.
  4. Mar 25, 2008 #3
    Is their a consensus of opinion that lead to ESCR being unfunded in the US though? Same goes for other areas, does your government reflect the electorates views?

    Didn't Bush use his veto to block a democratic bill to make ESCR fundable by government? Is that really all that democratic, or is it pandering to the right wing conservative church goers?

    Hehe, don't want to make this about the US, I'm much more interested in hearing about religious views world wide (well as wide as PF gets) than just one government.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2008
  5. Mar 25, 2008 #4


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    I think the US (government) falls short of being the democracy it could be, or that it advocates. I can't read Bush's mind, but his vetos probably reflect a personal view (as would be the case with any president), but also probably some reflection on the views of those constituents to whom he is more sympathetic (which is usually the case for any president).

    I should also point out that PF guidelines restrict religious discussion because they invariable develop into conflicts over personal views and interpretations. So be forewarned that the thread could be locked if it strays into areas of personal belief.
  6. Mar 25, 2008 #5
    Yeah good point, please keep your own beliefs out of it and stick to talking about religion in general if you can.

    I think that's the problem though, I think that's another reason why Bush is unpopular, by pandering to the right wing fundamentalists he alienates the moderates. I don't see that it's a personal opinion on certain issues though not just ESCR, unless Bush is a fundamentalist Christian, or conservative Catholic. AFAIK though isn't he just common or garden Protestant?
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2008
  7. Mar 25, 2008 #6


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    I would not say that there is a common or garden variety Protestant/Catholic/Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, . . . In any religion, there are denominations, subgroups, and then parishes or individual congregations, and within each congregation are individuals who collectively represent a broad spectrum of beliefs and thoughts.

    I don't know Bush, nor can I read his mind. I can and do however disagree with certain views he expresses and with his policies, particular with his decision to go to war.

    It is apparent that within the Bush administration, there are those who are identified as religious who have some influence in political/administrative matters.

    I think the concern with respect to the relationship of religion and government in a religiously pluralistic society is how much influence should an individual or group of a particular religious persuasion have over the entire society. Certainly some groups/individuals are motivated to try to impose their particular beliefs/views on the entire community, even though the community expects otherwise, and it's not just religion necessarily.
  8. Mar 25, 2008 #7


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    I was quite annoyed when I first heard this story over the Easter weekend, but then quite pleased that Brown was going to stick to his guns. Now I'm annoyed again at him compromising. The church should have no say whatsoever over government policy.
  9. Mar 25, 2008 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    People of faith have a right to express their views and to support agendas that are inline with their personal views just like anyone else. The problem is that many value their personal opinions or faith more than they do the Constitutional rights of others. Of course there is legitimate debate about what some of those rights may be. Abortion is one that comes to mind. One can hardly fault religious groups for opposing abortion given their beliefs, but does a woman have the sole right to make that choice? I see that as a credible debate since there is [the real catch] another "life" involved. So religious debate about abortion really comes down to a Constitutional debate about the definition of life and the rights of the unborn.

    So whereas I think the Constitutional debate about life is legitimate, I would oppose bans on abortions based soley on the religious beliefs of others. In that sense no religious group has a right to impose their views on society.

    If a group has a religious belief that all short people should be imprisoned, the believers have no right to push that agenda. We certainly wouldn't honor that belief as it would violate the rights of the vertically challenged. There is still freedom of speech... but political action is another matter. In the US it always [ideally] comes back to the Constitution.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2008
  10. Mar 25, 2008 #9


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    Bush is kind of a born again evangelical - converted by Billy Graham, himself! Or converted by Arthur Blessitt, the guy who walks around the world carrying a 12-foot cross. It's tough to know for sure since Billy Graham's memory of the occassion was somewhat foggy. http://www.slate.com/id/2186343/entry/2186344/

    Regardless, it's what allowed him to overcome alcoholism and started him on his way towards being President.

    If he were better at what he did, he'd be as inspiring as Jimmy Piersall, the hero of "Fear Strikes Out". Of course, the true story of Jimmy Piersall wasn't as happy as the book or movie, as Piersall's behavioral problems and psychiatric problems actually plagued his entire big league career. (Strange, but meaningless trivia: Jimmy Piersall is the godfather of the former Congressman Mark Foley.)
  11. Mar 25, 2008 #10


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    I voted that the church should have no influence whatsoever, though I'm not sure the question really lends itself to a simple one-liner answer. There are at least two different levels to the question, with different answers.

    The first level I would say is the personal level. A person's own religious convictions will invariably influence their politics. This is perfectly normal and acceptable. [edit:caveat below]

    The second level is what I would call the institutional level. Laws vary from country to country, but in the US, the 1st Amendment has been interpreted to require specific exclusion of religion from politics (even though that is often ignored). Along similar lines, and also often manipulated or skirted, it is illegal for non-profit organizations to be active in politics. But a great many organizations get away with far more than they really should on that issue. In any case, that's the reason why you don't see actual churches on political donors lists. The religious lobby organizations are essentially secular fronts.

    Caveat: From Ivan's post:
    There are, in fact, religious people in the US who take oaths with the intention of not following them. This is, of course, illegal, but it is not always easy to police. Still, there are occasional instances when such a person is exposed and removed from office, as in the case of the Alabama "Ten Commandments" judge. He stated in plain English that his obligations to God trumped his obligations to the Constitution. This was apparently a [minor, perhaps] concern when Kennedy was elected (the Catholic Church is not only a church, it is a country and a government) and has popped up with Bush as well.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2008
  12. Mar 25, 2008 #11

    As an advocate of democracy I would hope for nothing less. Freedom of and from religion isn't something that should apply over anyone as over arching and thus objective not subjective.

    True but their influence happens nonetheless: agreed.

    Governments take oaths with no intention of following them, in retrospect, but I don't think that is sound in either government or the common people. No church should have the authority to affect law, the ability to advise yes, absolutely, to state its case to be heard, and even amongst its members to be part of the democratic process. Once it moves into the legal framework, or political framework though it is by any other name affecting law, no single man should apply religion to his politics, unless there is a consensus, this shows adequately with UK politics. And I for one feel uneasy about that situation, but if it is democratic I have no objection.

    Of course not as a pluralist myself I tend to agree all views are viable, even if I don't agree with them, that is democracy. But when such views by a minority are enforced on a majority whatever they are, they are not democracy that is more akin to despotism.

    Jesus may be his personal saviour and good on him for that, but he is not his vice president, or his defence secretary or anything else. :smile:
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2008
  13. Mar 25, 2008 #12
    The church and state should be completely separate. Not so much for the state as for the church. Politics is very unhealthy for churches. Very.
  14. Mar 26, 2008 #13


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    I think this is much more true than churches being unhealthy for politics. Politics can survive a lot of unhealthy things and still come through more or less intact.

    When churches start paying more attention to politics than the spiritual needs of their congregation, they start losing their reason for existing in the first place.
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