A recent Pew Survey of more than 2,000 Americans has shown tremendous support for increasing the influence of religion on political and social decision making. An article about this survey (http://n.pr/1ogzRXI) states that many of the individuals reported their belief that religious involvement has significantly declined and have viewed such decline in a negative light.
This idea of religious influence in politics can be related back to the idea of Civil Religions put forward by Rousseau as early as the eighteenth century. Rousseau argued that religion and state cannot be viewed as two separate entities and that one must acknowledge the idea of a religion of a state, encompassing the simplest set of beliefs that will unify the people behind their government. Although Rousseau’s arguments differ from the ideas of this survey in that the American people are not asking for a single religion to unify the state, the ideas relate in that the people of America are also indicating a belief that religion and politics cannot be separated.
It is my personal belief, however, that a mixing of religion and politics is not always beneficial. Many individuals are in some ways “blinded” by their religions and are inclined to make poor and sometimes extremely harmful decisions based upon what they believe to be true. ISIS and what is occurring in the Middle East is an extreme example of this problem. Although many argue that the members of this extremist group are not practicing a true religion, it is true to those individuals. The members affiliated, no matter how obscure the majority of us see their beliefs, have incredible faith in what they believe to be Islam. This can link back to the ideas of defining a religion and what is accepted as a religion. Many scholastic definitions of religion lack the need for them to be “good”. The ideas used to define a religion mean that groups such as ISIS cannot be excluded from such a definition.
Although many religions are good and have been seen to do good things, people have dramatically different beliefs and many individuals follow the ideologies of such institutions blindly and without question, causing such social organizations to be potentially dangerous. If America was to integrate religion more fully into their politics, which religion would they integrate? America is populated by a diverse people and a diversity of religious affiliation. If political decisions were to be influenced by religion, which religion would have the most influence? Whose opinions would be most influential? Would this not create an increase in turmoil, debate and animosity between religious groups? I, personally, do not believe that religion should have a great influence on politics and I believe that the best decisions are decisions made objectively, off pure logic and without the influence of very subjective beliefs.