I get tired of hearing people say you can’t mix religion and politics. It’s like it’s this “verboten” subject, like homosexuality was in the 1970s. It may have been whispered, but never in the open and certainly not in polite company. How times have changed.
Religion is just a genre of ideas. That’s all. Think of religion as a language — there are a lot of them. Imagine someone saying “you can’t mix Hindi and government.” Really? That may be convenient for the Arabic speaking Muslims in India but it’s hardly a factual statement. Of course you can mix Hindi and government.
And of course you can mix religion and politics.
But should you? Let’s take the above illustration — should you mix Hindi and politics?
If you are a Hindu, yes. If you are a Moslem, no. And if Arabic speakers control the discourse (the universities and the press) then the answer is “oh, hell no.”
We need to start thinking the same way about “religion.” Religion is just a subset of ideas like Hindi is a subset of language. However varied in its many forms religion may suppose a Grand Being and a certain moral order. Our contemporaries are very happy to say you can’t mix your suppositions of power and morality and politics. What a stupid statement. Of course you can. You can’t not mix ideas of power and morality with politics.
What they really mean is more like an Arabic speaker saying “you can’t mix Hindi and politics.”
Same with the argument that you can’t mix religion and politics — it’s just a weak tool to convince people to surrender without a fight.
There is no such thing as politics without ideas of power or morality. That’s non-sensical. And religion is politics (power) and morality. It’s all the same. The ploy to exclude “religion” isn’t based on anything other than pure power politics to exclude one group from power. And that’s OK to have that perspective — that is real. But it is equally OK for anyone to reject it as just another weapon of ideological warfare.
Understanding the tactics of your opponent is fundamental to intellectual freedom.
But for the naive and religious to believe they can’t mix religion and politics is just mental and political suicide. Who believes that? Not the Pope. Not Jeremiah Wright. Not MLK, Jr.
Belief is always power, whether that belief is religious or not.
Calling one subset of beliefs “religious” is just a lever to remove those beliefs from the concourse of politics.
For the truly ignorant out there who say that religion is the cause of so many wars, I’d like to rephrase that statement into “ideas are the cause of so many wars.” Then I’d agree with you. But to subdivide ideas into acceptable (agnostic) and unacceptable (theistic) is simply a ploy for power by the agnostics. Nothing wrong with that — it is all about power. But it’s stupid for theists to subborn their own will to their intellectual foes based upon an axiomatic statement that they don’t even understand.
The twentieth century was not about “religion.” It was about secularism through and through and it was the most deadly century in human history. Two atom bombs dropped by the defender of liberal democracy and 100 million slaughtered in the name of materialistic communism. All the wars between the Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus in the history of the world never came close to this kind of slaughter.
So the next time someone says “religions cause wars” or “you can’t mix religion and politics,” you need to really just laugh — they are slaves to someone else’s propaganda. But ignorance can be cured — tell them that ideas, power, morality and politics are irremediably mixed.
Let’s get real here — right now there is a whole war in the Middle East that is about imposing secular ideas of democracy and “human rights” on a decidedly theistic people. Someone is trying to impose ideas of power and morality on someone else. Whether those ideas are from the ghetto (religion) or the good side of the tracks (secular) really doesn’t change the equation — it is all about superimposing one faith (world view, political values, morality and power) upon another.
Calling one idea “religious” is just another way the secular ideologues exercise power over the less secular.