Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Quick Look Back, A Big Look Forward

Nearing the end of blog I have observed a trend in American Politics and Religion; that there has been a long tradition of separating church from state, but an equally powerful inclination to mix the two together. The nations great political and social movements have been driven by these two forces and in recent years I have noticed that religion has been woven more deeply into the fabric of partisan politics than ever before. Because of this I've realised that I can't have my way where where religion is completely separated from religion and that I would have to work hard if I want them to stay as separate as possible. In the 2004 presidential campaign candidates openly discussed their religious beliefs, churches became increasingly active in political mobilization and voters sorted themselves out not just by their policy preferences but also by their religiosity. From this I believe that for the 2008 campaign whether a person regularly attends church would be as important in determining his or her vote for president as standard demographic characteristics as gender, and race. At my political table is what I see as the 3. The truly religious Huckabee, the Female Clinton, and the Black Obama. Whoever wins, I hope will keep religion a private matter.

Less Ranting, More Substance

Most of my blogs have been rants against the mixing of religion and politics. Now I will calm down and try to better convey the reason why the two things should not be mixed. As I learned from my philosophy of religion class, I believe that religion is a private matter and should stay that. As I read the story of Abraham, I learn that religion can be irrational, but that is not the point I care about. What I learned from the story is that a private relationship with god where rationality is ignored and absolute faith given utmost dedication like Abraham's can be the right thing. Being guided by the bible and God for policy making is fine, but when someone takes this guidance into the public square and try to impose it on others, I get mad. The status of the Bible and a relationship with god cannot be debated in politics and the state cannot take sides in how the Bible and god should be interpreted. Such issues, I believe are subjects of private religious faith, not public reasoning. This is the real reason why I believe mixing religion and politics must be avoided.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Many More Should Just Come Out of the Closet

To conclude my blog, I will list the reasons I am not so friendly towards religion mixing with politics and why I believe and want to be someone who can keep religion away from controlling politics. First off, it is hyprocrisy. There is just too many cases of religious people making morally righteous claims and then doing something contradicting it. The most recent and hilarious example that I can think of is Senator Foley and his explicit sex talks with a child, after he had introduced a bill that would punish those who harm children. And who can forget Senator Craig and his airport restroom controversy. Why would any one criticize and forbid other people from doing things, and do it themselves. It seems to me that these political hypocrites and others like them should just come out of the closet and accept their inner selves instead of attacking other people who share the same inner-self. This leads me to be especially critical of those political figures who claim to be religious. I believe most of them are just using religion and that some may even be atheists.

Fighting Back Against Popular Culture

For previous posts I mention some of the more popular religious/political leaders of the world and explained why they might have near celebrity status. Now I will dive into why do the Conservative Christian leaders are not so popular and looked upon negatively. I believe it is because, not only are they not mainstream and are intolerant, they are fighting against the mainstream. They seems as they are militant towards anything mainstream. As abortion clinics made their way through and gain some acceptance from women and men they bomb it. And now as gay marriage rights are being fought on the coasts of America, the Christian conservatives are attacking the gays again. This time they are doing it by going to the teens and young adults who are so involved with popular culture. I consider this move brilliant, because instead of trying change the culture, they are getting rid of it and setting up a new one. I also consider this move to breed intolerance and hate under religion.

The Asian Occasion

We've talked about the white religious/political figures in class and I've mention the black leaders. Now I would like to introduce another figure whose position has brought him near celebrity status and given his voice a strong political presence. The Dalai Lama, is the reincarnation of the Bhudda and was head of the Tibetan government in the past. but i recent years, the current reincarnation Tenzin Gyatso would have to live in exiled. During this period of exile he has gain wide praise for his political movements to protect Tibetan culture. From wining the congressional gold medal to the Nobel piece prize he is known around the world for promoting peace and tolerance. But the question rises, why are some religious figures more famous than others? In addition to what I've said before about them focusing more on the political issues, I also believe that a history of having to struggle also plays a big role in how the world perceives them and their political views. For the Christian religious/political leaders they seem to have never had to struggle for their faith or politics. Thus when they get political, the world seems to not look so kindly at them and consider their political values religious ones.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Reverends in Popular Culture

Why is it that some Reverends get more national attention than others and are better known by the general American public? I believe it is completely due to the fact that these reverends focus more on the political than religious issues. Who are these people? They are what many people call the christian left, people who hold Christian values and traditions along with left wing ideals. They are Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson. Both have achieved near celebrity status and have become completely driven by civil rights and politics. They seem to have forgot their religion in the sense that they do not mention or talk about it much anymore. And even when they do talk about religion, they seem to contradict what almost every other Christian conservative would believe in. Pro-abortion, pro- gay rights, and pro-animal rights, they support them all and do so as political and religious leaders. However, I see it differently, these guys are just really politically leaders who are black and believe in very liberal values, and that the only way for these liberal black leaders to gain the support of white liberals and black conservatives is to pose as religious leaders.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

True Religion Brand Politics

I find it funny how a denim brand can raise such a strong question or make such a strong religious statement through fashion. I believe that religion is much like jeans, that no particular one "brand" or "fit" of religion that will fit any particular person, that there is no true religion in the world, and that wearing "jeans" is not the only option for a someone. Despite my belief, the many nations of this world still claim a true religion. In America, I believe that Christianity/Catholicism has claimed itself America's true religion. Every presidential candidate I see seems to claim that they have a relationship with Jesus and God. This somehow shows to me that America has a dress code where only Jesus and God as "tailors" can sew clothes that make an individual fit to be president. To me this is a religious test for presidency, and I strongly believe that the over a True Religion should be completely ignored, and instead search for the True separation of church and state that the Constitution wants.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Politically Religious and Religiously Political

What does it take to make it in the mainstream media and Politics? From my observations. it seems that to make it in mainstream media, as in having your own show or many show appearances, one must be religiously political. That is, taking and making strong religious positions as Bill Maher and Ann Coulter do. The reporters who cover religion objectively with not much bias do not get much attention, instead the religious stories they cover get the attention. Even then, these stories do not get as much attention when compared to the attention that the religiously political would get if they made a strong political statement about the religious story. For politics on the other hand, one must be politically religious, that is being religious for the sake of political means. Polls and surveys show that Americans do focus on religion as a major factor in deciding who to vote for. Thus even if one is not particularly fond of a certain aspect of religion, it is best to just support religion rather than criticizing it and consequentially alienating oneself from the voters.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

State and Religion: The Case of Islam

Islam being the fastest growing religion in the world has reached far beyond the Middle East, emigrating it self to all the corners of the world settling especially in France, Turkey, North Africa, and Indonesia. Surely, Islamic radicalism has only reach a small number of individuals and do not reflect Islam. However, what has reached a large part of the non-Middle Eastern Muslim is that of Islamic fundamentalism specifically Shariah Law or Islamic Law. In these cases such as in local Nigerian law, instead of separating church and state the church is the state. Although Shariah law looks backwards to western culture, for some countries it is the best way to deal with local minor offenses. In addition, full blown Islamic law has not hit Nigeria as its federal government can control all local law. In Indonesia however the story is different, its Constitution accepts that there is a supreme god, but promises religious freedom to all. For this case, however, the population is majorly Muslim and its fundamentalists have pressured the government to install traditional Islamic law into its Constitution. Because the majority of these Muslim are moderates, shariah law has only been adopted in one remote area of Indonesia. From this i find that Islam's emigration will only take a moderate stronghold in countries outside the Middle East.

Separation of Church and State Abroad

Living in the US for the entire of adult life, I do not get to see what other countries have to do when dealing with church and state. From what i read in the news papers there seems to be a lot of countries in the world which have a separation of church and state. However the one general pattern i see from these countries and even the few countries which do not separate church and state is that they are more tolerant, liberal, and have fewer problems withe church and state than does the US. Everywhere I look, it seems as though countries are more series about separating church and state. Australia opposes faith based organizations and Belgium supports eliminating religious signs and symbols out of public places like the courts, both of this in much difference to the US. In the EU efforts to bring God in to the Constitution is faced with much opposition from Britain, France, Denmark, and Sweden, all this in deep contrast to America's Constitution which mentions god several times. Even in a country like Denmark, where church and state are not separated, the do not face the problem that America has with religion; that is religion overstepping its bounds. The key to nations outside the US, is that they are able to keep religion from interfering with politics and instead drawing a line making religion know its place in society.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Consequences of War and Religion

In today's world of multi-faith nations, an action of another country can turn another country off from support to criticism. Even countries who have showed a long history of support would turn its back when another country's action is not sensitive to its people.

Immediately after 9-11, in addition the solidarity of all faiths in America there was also strong support from multi-faith nations like France and Great Britain. But when Bush, through his religion would export American security and democracy. Many countries suddenly turned their support into criticism, mainly because the US's action seem questionable and went against the UN's advice, but for France i believe their large Muslim community had to do something with the rise of criticism. To this growing community it appears as though the US's decision was not about security or democracy but about changing Islam. I do not blame them for believing such, I blame Bush for it all. His political agenda is praiseworthy, and i would support it if it was better planned out and most importantly presented in such a way that was not open for criticism about its "neo-messianism". However, because the war itself seem impossible to exclude religious elements out of it, I did not ever see my self supporting it or religious backlash not happening.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A New Era in the World and Religion

I have seen read how religion took its hold in American politics since Carter, but it seems to me that America, pretty much had never taken its religion and apply it to international politics. That was until 9-11, that I began to see a transformation, a transformation which i understood and expected to stop at an early point. The terrorist attacks was a tragedy, and i understood that American religion would be used as a means of comfort and security. What I continue to not understand is how American religion continued to play an even bigger role in international relations as time passed. The most shocking thing for me was how America's diversity of religion melted together into a uniform religion/political sentiment on US foreign policy; a foreign policy argued under theological premises. From all this it seems as if American religion was use not only as a means of bringing comfort and security, but also a platform for revenge. This is contradictory to what American religion has taught and because of this i believe that a new era will emerge in which people will shy away from religion in matters of international relations.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Religion and International Politics

In America, the only thing I know about international relations and religion is the war on terrorism and what i believe is Bush's Christianity and radical Islam. When ever I see the news on TV it seems as the world of international relations and religion is one of a cultural war. I have always thought that in international relations, all that matters is economics, the politics over economics, and war. But as I further watch the war on terror continue, i now strongly believe that international relations is also about religion and culture. In today's world, there seems to be a certain culture that each country has about religion and international relations. Certain countries like Vietnam, China, and India seem to have no care about religion and have certain mindset on economic development. This kind of culture seems to me, makes these countries do all they can avoid conflict. In other countries i see a culture to have all the care in the world about religion. In countries like the US and from the Middle East, it seems that they are either self-righteous in their religion and choose to act on that or they fear that if they do not so call "do God's work" they will suffer. Growing up in a non-religious family i understand why the Asian countries have such a culture, but for the culture of the other countries I will continue to study them.

Friday, November 9, 2007

My Predictions For Women, Religion, and Politics

This triangle has occupied a large chunk of the American political landscape and human nature itself. The fact about the American political landscape is that women are becoming increasingly more powerful in politics as Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi are demonstrating. Women's politics goes well beyond debates over abortions and traditional families and religion must recognize this. If religion continues to ignore and offer no new choices for women in politics, I see religion loosing some political clout to women politics. For women politics to advance and gain equality, it must act in the same way men do. Right now, religion is considered an enemy of women politics, and like men it must make it a ally instead. Despite their polarizing morals, women politics must somehow find a way to use religion as a platform to launch their causes and believes. If women do not find some way to do this I do not ever see women politics getting close to men's. In other words, women must learn to appeal to and compromise with other things that they are usually not comfortable with.

The Not So Great Rise of Religion Into Women Politics

Why is it that religion does not get women politics. Women politics, to me, is a struggle to gain the rights and equalities denied them for centuries in America. Yet when the ERA was gaining support from both Democrats and Republicans, it was struck down. The opposition to the ERA were religious conservatists', both men and women, who argue against the ERA in support of the woman's traditional role. Never before have i seen a group deny itself of rights and liberties that other groups and countries have fought and died for. It is as if they want to make into law, the fact that women and men are different and must be treated differently, as if equal work does not equate to equal pay and that political involvement for women is not an option. As women are rising in politics and voting influence, religion instead wants women to live in a separate political world. As far as religion has tried to rise into women politics, they focus on the specifically gender driven politics of abortion and traditional families. They do not care about what women are thinking about and believe in the political world, they only care about how and what women should believe and think about.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Race Over Gender

Over the years, I have realized that race is above gender when it comes to politics and religion. Men, has and will always have religious dominance over men and I do not think women can do anything about it. Because of this I believe that women are more likely to vote Democrat; because the Democratic platform allows and promotes their advancement. As far as politics goes, race has always gain political influence before gender. Race has gain the right to vote, seats to office, and ultimately political influence before women. It was only until the 19Th amendment and Roe v. Wade would this political gap be brought closer. From this right to suffrage, they would bring the political clout of nearly half the voters in America, yet there is still a lack of women in political seats as well as religious seats. I do not see more women in religious seats of authority until I see many more in political seats, most nearly even to the number of men.

Mixing In a New Factor.

Politics is a hotly contested matter, but when religion and gender are thrown in to the mix, it becomes a recipe for intense impact. Each ingredient has its own interests and neither can take from what the others have. No matter how religious a feminist is, her feminist values will likely overpower her religious one, no matter how feminist a woman of religion is, her religious views will stand proud. As each ingredient tries to mix itself with politics they will likely fight each other in order to incorporate more of themselves with politics. This struggle demonstrates a breakaway from the general culture war, in which stereotypes would not fit. Research shows a strong correlation between religious people voting Republican and secular people voting Democrat. The fact is that more woman are more religious than men, yet some of these religious women are voting for the democrats. From this, i conclude that although religion does have a direct influence on politics, religion and politics itself does not have as direct of a influence over women, but instead more subtly.

The Uncommon Triangle

When I look at the world of religion, politics and women I see a very uncommon triangle develop. In this triangle, it rests on one corner and women are at this point, while politics and religion are at the top points and are dominated by men. To me I see that neither religion nor politics on their side but instead it is above them. For them to get any thing or become anything they must choose sides and demonstrate competence in either one. They can not simply claim to be an important part of politics but, they must demonstrate it. They can not claim to be religiously blessed, but must demonstrate a miracle or religious act. Women must walk up the two sides of the triangle to gain influence from religion or politics. For men they stand atop the triangle and can simply use gravity and fall into politics and religion.

The Media, the Best and Worse of Both Worlds.

In assesing religion and politics, I left out what religion has done. To me, the media is the best and worse of both worlds. Like religion and politics it influences how we think and just really care about money, albeit in a different way. They show us and frame images and sounds in way so that our perception of a certain issue is affected. In its best light, the media has done good in exposing the wars, tragedies, and scandals of religion, politics and humanties so that the people are informed to make and demand change, like the exposure of the Vietnam War and Catholic preist scandals. However I see it in the shadows when they are willing to ignore all of these things. When tragedies like Darfur and Rwanda are taking lives of innocent people, the media ignores or cover alittle of such events. Instead of showing or even exposing the evils of the world, the media would only do so if it would make money. Where as politics and religion would try to solve this, the media can just look away consequently have the public nearly oblivious to such tragedies. This is where the media is worse than religion and politics, but its good, is that it strives to expose the truth. Where as religion and politics would try to cover up the evils that they have done, the media would try to expose this, and would even be willing to expose the evils that they have done.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Best of Two Goods?

Is religion or politics better? I believe it is politics which is the better of the two when assessing the goodness that each does. We go to both for help and guidance religion specifically for spiritual guidance and government for mostly everything else. I see miraculous things that religion can do, and affect people in which politics have failed. Politics, I believe, fails a lot because it has too many people asking it for help and many more demanding it. Religion is more successful at turning things around for people because people who come to it have no other choice or politics have failed and refuse to help people any further. Furthermore their is just too much compromises and arguing when they want to get things done. Religion is willing, open, and quick to act and help people out. Because of this there is a stronger loyalty to religion than politics. Thus religion seeminly does good out of its own good will, whereas polictics does it because it wants to keep its job.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Lesser of Two Evils?

I am not too fond of either religion or politics. I consider them both evil, and that their main goal is money and power. Both of them want to tell how people should live, and both need people's money to do so. In assessing which one is the lesser of two evils I look at how much money each takes in, what they do with that money, and ultimately how much damage each has done. Government forcefully takes considerably more money from the people in a promise that it will provide services back. Religion asks for money from people promising and in my opinion "fooling' people into believing that it will do god's work. When politics does something wrong with this money, it is accountable to the people it took money from, they know who to blame. But when religion does something wrong, not only is it not accountable for its actions, but the people who it took money from has no one to blame and instead are "fooled" into giving more money to fix the wrong done by religion. As far as spending for the good of humanity, both do the same thing, try to feed and help the people who need it most. I do not see either one as less evil than the other, but together these things seem to be better for the world.

Why Do People Fall For It?

Looking at the cartoon from my previous post, I wonder why do most religious people fall for and support religious people on TV, but only a small number of people would ever fall for what a politician says. I believe it is because politics does not offer what religion does, eternal happiness. Instead politics offers things that are more immediate and practical like health care and security. I see little difference between politics and religion; both have been corrupt since their birth, many many wars have been fought over them, and many many more wars will be fought over them. I see that politics and religion are as inseparable as politics and economics. But what stumps me is that in the relationship between economics and politics attention and support for either side is pretty even and concerted, but in the relationship between politics and religion, people would rather choose something so impractical and not immediate, that they can never control or experience over something that they can easily and practically decide over and would have a more immediate and important on them.