The Growth of Present Day Religious Empires (RELS 348)

The struggle for power within and over a country is something that is still an issue in the present day, and the rise and rule of empires is something that continues as well. In Soner Cagaptay’s article “The Empires Strike Back,” The New York Times, January 14, 2012, Cagaptay looks at the struggle for power when Egypt and Tunisia were going through changes in government in 2012. The tension that surfaced was, what surrounding countries were going to gain influence and power in those countries? Both Turkey and France were trying to get this control, each coming from a very different type of rule. France was completely secularized at the time, while Turkey had a lot of Islam influence.

This article highlights the tension of what extent religion should be involved within a government, and that often it is the religious views of a government that connects it to other countries and can result in religious empires. The article notes that both France and Turkey have competed for control in the Middle East, and Turkey has been gaining control because of its religious affiliations. It has support from surrounding Islam nations, and as a country has become more influenced by religion.

It is interesting that North America has worked so hard to try and separate religion in state, while in other parts of the world countries are reverting back to religiously run governments that have huge impact on the state. The other consideration is that as countries are being ruled from a religious basis, the borders diminish and religious empires form.

The question at hand is, is this a good thing? Is it good for a countries future to have any religion having control in a government? I believe there is not a right answer, and every situation is different. There are many values that are shared by many religions, and traditions that people are connected with. People appreciate when these values are recognized and supported by the government. Individuals and groups alike find meaning in religion, and that is a wonderful thing. However, if people are no longer allowed to have beliefs that oppose the view of the government it can be dangerous and can cause huge tensions within and between countries. Kris Manjapra reflects on Gandhi’s Beliefs that there could be “a new internationalism born of mutual recognition and esteem among cultures worldwide”[1]. This is the place that I hope the world can come to, that people can have strong religious convictions, and countries can even have a national religion. Often so much of a countries culture and individual’s heritage is tied to religion and the traditions it holds, and it is a shame to remove these things. Yet the struggle when any one religion results in an empire, there is the chance of countries moving away from appreciation for all people, cultures and beliefs, and becoming more concerned with political and absolute power.

This article raises some very interesting questions about the role of religion in government, and I believe that a government can run smoothly, even if it has religious ties. However, for this to be good for all citizens and peaceful relationships with countries world wide there needs to always be an underlying respect and value for all beliefs and religions.

JML

#uwreligions

[1] Kris Manjapra, M.N. Roy: Marxism and Colonial Cosmopolitanism (New Delhi: Routledge, 2010), 154.

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