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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ah! What an ambitious thread title!

Actually i am just going to post my basic framework and the fruits of my googling, and you can make all the sense you want of the role of religion in world politics and current events.

First, I found a great resource website, http://www.adherents.com/. Some very neat links here! They have a page with a listing of the worlds' countries by predominant religion. Please note that not all the countries where Muslims are the majority are in the Middle East, not all the Christian countries are in Europe, etc. etc.

From the same site, a page on the countries of origin of the world's best-known religions. (Please note that Persia=Iran, etc.)

Wikipedia also has a nice resource page with statistics on the world's major religions. Pretty charts and maps!

As a general rule, I don't identify confessional parties or political movements that claim a religious basis with their entire religious tradition. This would mean doing things like conflating the Christian socialist parties with the Dominionists, for example. The world's major religions are all too big and too diverse for that kind of thinking. Obviously, people who form such political movement DO want to be identified as the true transmitters of their religious tradition. Even when you sympathize with their political aims, I think it's a good idea to be skeptical of that.
 

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would love to join but I have to go to church


Seriously, I will join later because this is of great interest to me. I think it is actually impossible to separate religion from political ideology in most of the world. I actually believe it is dangerous to do that...I tend to the belief that if "religion" (however skewed ones view of it may be i.e. the Taliban) can be the cause of so many of the world's problems it can also be a part of the solution.

But I will say this loud and clear - I do not like theocracies. And there are many theocracies in the world today even if this is not the "official" description a country's political ideology.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by merpk
Okay. Interesting info, and yes, pretty maps. Where do you go from here?
I don't know! I just know that it's frustrating to try to have a discussion about the role of religion in any issue without some sense of all the other factors.

So you know, we are Jews. Jews are a very small minority among the world's religions. Yet we are a very diverse group! We are diverse on the geographical axis. Because we come from different parts of the world, there are multiple Jewish cultures. We are diverse religiously--there are movements in Judaism, like Hasidism, Reform, Modern Orthodoxy, the Musar movement, the Conservative movement, etc. But then also there are different political movements among Jewish people, different Jewish parties.

How much more is this true of Christianity and Islam, which have millions of adherents and a history of seeking converts! They are geographically, religiously, and politically diverse. Even within a signle group--American Catholics, say--huge diversity.

I'm sure there is more to discuss than this obvious bit.
 

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You know what this is such an interesting topic. I havent got a clue how to address this one! Making sense of religion and current events?!?!? Its like... Why cant we all just get along!?!?! Sometimes its clearly not religious differences that cause conflict but a certain groups interpretation of the religion they adhere to. OR its clearly that they use their religion as a tool for gain, opression of another group, and all sorts of other bad stuff. I like my religion and my faith as a personal thing but for a government to use it as a tool for world domination... That is not cool.

Not sure if this is the vein you wanted this thread to take but... thats what I thought of when I read your question.

Quote:
I tend to the belief that if "religion" (however skewed ones view of it may be i.e. the Taliban) can be the cause of so many of the world's problems it can also be a part of the solution.
I agree it can potentially be part of the solulution. I dont know if it happens that often tho.
 

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I got my degree in Religion for this exact reason... to try understand current events a little better among other things.

Religion has often been in the center of wars... and though wars often don't make sense to me, looking at reasons help just a bit...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
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Originally Posted by genifer
Y Sometimes its clearly not religious differences that cause conflict but a certain groups interpretation of the religion they adhere to. OR its clearly that they use their religion as a tool for gain, opression of another group, and all sorts of other bad stuff.
My point precisely. Instead of seeing religion as a cause of conflict, we can see it as one of many motivating factors. Sometimes religion is a core part of national identity, or some nationalist group wants to use it that way. Or, a political group wants to use religious language to motivate a mass movement. It can go in a lot of directions.

We tend to see religion as inherently backward-looking and reactionary, and generally nationalistic. But in fact that's only one direction, one use to which reigion may be put.
 

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Quote:
We tend to see religion as inherently backward-looking and reactionary, and generally nationalistic.
I think so, but the two don't always mix. When politics goes wrong it often seems religion is to blame.

Lets look at the time period of the former Soviet Union and the creating of the World Socialist System by Joseph Stalin. Obviously promoting an atheist ideology. Look at the mass killings, genocide, war, propagated by a government that was not religious in any form.

Maybe this isn't what your asking for CO, I don't know. The subject is to broad right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
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Originally Posted by Anuska
I think so, but the two don't always mix. When politics goes wrong it often seems religion is to blame. (...)
Lets look at the time period of the former Soviet Union and the creating of the World Socialist System by Joseph Stalin. Obviously promoting an atheist ideology.
I'm not sure exactly what you're trying to explore, here.

I think for me, the key is to demystify religion a little bit. That is, it's not any more or less pernicious than any other cultural factor or motivator.

it certainly makes sense to know what the core doctrines of a religious tradition actually are, but you can't deduce from that the ideologies or behaviors of a given political group from them.

i suppose that's why terms like "totalitarian dictatorship" or "guerilla movement" or "grassroots political alliance" are so useful. They transcend the ideology that the group is espousing and describe instead how they are using ideology, political power, or violence. "Totalitarian dictatorship" is particularly brilliant, because it works to describe governments that identify with the right or with the left with equal accuracy.
 

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I guess I really value the concept of seperation of church and state. I think relligion is valuable in our society but I also think people's beliefs should continue to be of the individual's free will.

The dominionists really frighten me as do fundamentalists of any religion.
 

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Might I recommed the Sam Harris book "the end of faith"?

His theory is that the suspension of reason in favor of religious faith is the key catalyst in the worst of human atrocities.

He challenges the right the left the devout and the atheist... a very meaty read.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by nyveronica
Might I recommed the Sam Harris book "the end of faith"?

His theory is that the suspension of reason in favor of religious faith is the key catalyst in the worst of human atrocities.

He challenges the right the left the devout and the atheist... a very meaty read.
best book i've read so far this year.
 

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mahdokht Religion rallies the troops it is resources that people fight over.
Very well put! I believe most wars are economic in origin. Or based on a mixture of fear/hatred/greed. Religion just gets used as one of the overlaying motivations. The colonialists of the 19th century talked about "the white man's burden"....the need to civilise and turn the natives into christians. Now the "white man's burden" appears to be the need to democratise and turn them into capitalists.
 

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Stalin's USSR is one example, Nazi Germany is another, of horrible atrocity committed in the name of nonreligious nationalism. To condemn religion as the source of all scourge is too simplistic and ignores the reality of the 20th century.

Put in other terms, yes, Germany itself was a Christian country, but Nazism was not carrying the cross as its banner. IYKWIM.
 

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Quote:
Stalin's USSR is one example, Nazi Germany is another, of horrible atrocity committed in the name of nonreligious nationalism. To condemn religion as the source of all scourge is too simplistic and ignores the reality of the 20th century.
There are historians that argue that, in the above examples, Communism and National Socialism actually became religions, complete with all their own mythology, beliefs, etc. Guess it just comes down to how you define religion.

It's dogma --- uncompromising belief, be it nationalism, religion, or whathaveyou --- that is dangerous.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mrzmeg
...It's dogma --- uncompromising belief, be it nationalism, religion, or whathaveyou --- that is dangerous.
: This is so true!
Thanks Captain Optimism for a thought provoking thread.

I look forward to seeing where the posters take the topic.

Take Care,
Erika
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PS-I hope to get my hands on the book, The End of Faith tomorrow. Thanks for the recommendation NYVeronica.
 
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