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Background /Literature review
Cause and Effect
The influence of religion on the American political landscape has for a long time been a subject of inquiry. Past findings and existing theories on the sociology of religion maintain two opposing views on the way that religion has influenced contemporary American politics. However, a closer review of the US system reveals an apparent commanding influence of religion on dominant religious rhetoric and voting patterns. Polarization has worked to motivate the masses to approve of foreign policies and even war in the case of the events after the 9/11 attacks when America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. At the present polarization continues to be a motivating element for religious rhetoric and possibly voting patterns considering the 2016 elections. Trump being the leading republican presidential contender is an example of the influence of religion in the US politics, considering his wholesale war propaganda on Islam. His stance and political status at the present is going to play a major role in the final outcome. It is based on this premise that we suggest the ongoing influence of religion on American politics in the 2016 US presidential elections will guide the result.
In the bible, democracy is not endorsed particularly. In fact, the bible warns the people against putting leadership in the hands of evil people. It is shocking that many Christians in the world believe that a democracy is in line with Christianity even if it is not the case. It is the duty of the Christians to help others find redemption. The state does not have to redeem people or to help people in their wayward ways. The other thing is many Christians believe that their relationship with God is different from their relationship with other human beings. It is for this reason that most of them believe that politics should in no way relate to their relationship with God. They believe that politics and religion should be separated and not be associated with each other.
They believe politics involves the relationship between people while ones relationship with God is divine and would connect the spirits of a Christians to God. The belief the bible does not have teachings on how to conduct oneself in this matter is misleading as they believe there is a gray area that allows them to do what they think is best. Apparently, they would choose the littlest of all evils.
If this argument were true then the bible would have differentiated our political side and our spiritual sides in two different realms. These realms would be totally unrelated, and the bible does not give this distinction but rather gives a way for God to rule over all the aspects of our lives. The bible says that secularity does not exist, and there is no such thing as being neutral.
One should either follow God or the devil. Everything that God created in the world ought to be considered as sacred. Anyone who thinks in this way can be excused from believing that politics is good but only when it is related to the biblical view of politics. The mistake occurs when a person believes that the religious realm is completely separated from the political realm. In this way, they believe that the two realms occur side to side and, therefore, making the religious real equal to the political realm which is wrong and unlawful (Miller 113).
The second assumption does not offer any distinction in between political philosophy and religion. Augustine claims, there is no state that is just. This is because according to him, human beings reject the word of God that would deliver them to the perfect world. This does not mean that all the hope is lost when it comes to the redemption of human beings. What Augustine believes is that human beings should expect no less than what they are going through now. He uses past experiences in order to predict what will happen in the future. Human beings should not expect any changes in their political systems and that politics is going to remain the same. Finally, Augustine concludes that the servants of Christ whether they are rulers, kings, queens, judges or presidents, should endure all the wickedness in a corrupt state. He says that these leaders try to fight for the riches and power in the world and in the end lose out God’s teachings of power (Taylor 235).
According to the bible, the riches of the world and the pleasures of the flesh are under the jurisdiction of the devil and so struggling to fight for the material (politics) leads one to lose sight of the path to heaven.
As such, Christians should believe in the fact that democracy is just one of the better systems among the many other wrong systems that this world has to offer. Democracy is where the people believe that the government makes a decision for them in their best interest and sometimes they have to be consulted when the decisions are being made. In this system, there is no particular right way for someone to live their lives which is deceitful. In the beginning when there were no rules or laws, there were no consequences for any wrong action, and people could do as they pleased at all times. There was no right way of doing things. By establishing rules, the people had to realize they were now restricted, and they could not do the things that they did before. There was now set rules on how people should conduct themselves. Any action that was against these rules would probably have a consequence. In democracy, the consequences vary depending on the severity of the crime (Miller 113).
Since the regime at this point could not decide what was right and wrong before the rules were formed, Plato described this society as fools. The worst thing that could happen in such a society was extreme disorderliness, killings and corruption. Plato could see that there was kind of tyranny that could arise from this kind of a system. The tyrant in this case would affiliate himself with philosophers to cover his rule and do whatever he wanted. The tyrant believes that the philosophers owes him and is part and parcel of his rule. Since he is higher than the philosopher, the tyrant in this case is not compelled to follow or answer to the philosopher.
A tyrant believes that he should rule and act and should not be concerned about what is right and what is wrong. A tyrant prefers to be loved and admired by everyone. He prefers that people worship him all the time, and anyone who does not abide by the laws would be killed. His decisions are made according to what people love and what they prefer. There were no set rules and they changed all the time because of a state of no constitution. According to Plato, it is dangerous to repeat what the former regime has done. This is because the new regime has to learn from the mistakes of the former regime. A good leader should lead the people in the path that they should follow. Plato believes that the reason Socrates lived for seventy years was because the people could not distinguish a foolish man from a wise one. The people could not distinguish what is right from what was wrong. In this way, the leaders had to ensure that people attained what they wanted, but within reasonable limits (Kristol 155).
He claims the success and progress of the Roman Empire was the plan of God otherwise, it could have been corrupted. He believes that if Christians followed the word of God as they should then the cities and the political systems of the time would have surpassed those of the great achievers in Roman history. While Augustine postulates that it is better for romans to transform to Christianity, he realizes that this does not automatically turn the state into the perfect city of God. Even if the structure of the church and the political system were put together to become one, the state would not automatically become the ‘best city’.
Augustine does not wish bad for Rome but rather intervenes for them to God since he is one of them. He views Rome as one of the last symbols for Christ. He is however not too optimistic about the future of the Roman state. And this is because it is doomed for failure. Any state that is consisted and solely ruled by men cannot be considered the city of God. It constitutes an earthly city which will in the end be doomed for failure because it is not led by God. It is, therefore, very paramount for the city to be in line with what God's word says. In the end, however, Augustine believes that Rome could be the pioneer of spreading the word of God since that is where Christianity started. It can protect the church from malicious people who do not adhere to the word of God. It can even return those that have fallen away from the word of God to return to God (Gilbert 170).
The most common solution to the political problems was to declare to the people that even the Godly things were good they were irrelevant in people’s day to day life. What was considered important was to maintain peace among the people regardless of what the people needed. The peace did not come from the people’s will but rather due to the lack of various legal solutions. Philosophy and religion were believed to have been the greatest competitors to politics and therefore they were required to be in a different realm. They could not be permitted by the tyranny to occupy a higher realm than politics in the land.
Aristotle was a priest who believed that politics did not have any place in religion and did not claim to know everything. He however believed that the Gods had a moral responsibility of ensuring that the people were busy all the times and satisfied since they could not all be philosophers. He postulated that a man was a political being and regardless of all the other spheres that existed in his life; he had to satisfy his political nature by participating in politics (Charlesworth 43).
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