The relationship between religion and politics over the years has been parallel and often pulled in different directions on socioeconomic and religious matters. Steensland et al. (2000) argue that early development of the thorny relationship between the two fronts has seen remarkable and significant events unfold over the years. Below are events that marked the progression of the relationship between religion and politics.
- In the early 1880s, the rise of industrial capitalism (The Industrial Age). The church declared that business leaders introduced evil and weak moral values of Christians. With the increase of slaves and the slave trade, Norris & Inglehart (2011) maintain that Christians saw a rise in unethical business practices.
- In the mid and late 1800, Christianity faced the widespread knowledge and recognition of the evolution theory. Skeptics dismissed Christian teachings as a collection of ancient stories. It further saw the rise and continued the spread of secular philosophy that gradually flourished in the United States and beyond.
- In 1833, many States in the United States of America removed religious contents and establishments from their administrative units sparking off a casual and tensed relationship between the Church and the State. The country, however, embraced liberty and freedom, a practice that has been woven into the American society.
- In the early years of the fight for freedom and racial discrimination (early and mid-1990s), Marlin Luther King, a minister in his church clashed with the State and Federal government on human abuses and ethnic discrimination against the blacks.
- The resurgence of Islam and Islamic teachings changed the course of religious concepts in many fronts of religion with the State warning on the probability of radicalism and brainwashing. It further led to religious hostility cumulating to the withdrawal of many religious contents from any public arena in all States in the country.
- Despite the removal of religious establishments, America has continued and is currently incorporating family and religious values in its society with deeper emphasis on active and progressive values such as individual responsibility.
- In mid-2000, the State and religious bodies contradicted each other on the stand on gays’, with the state upholding the right to individualism and the Fourth Amendment. On the other hand, the church emphasized on man-woman marriage, a thorny issue that has continued to put the State and the Church on opposing sides (Kohut et al. 2001).
- The deployment of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan put the Church and the State in different positions with the church opposing any involvement of the US military in a war that added no value to the citizen’s welfare.
- Over the years and more so after the September 11 attack, the State and the Islamic faithful have had an uncomfortable relationship with the belief that Islam promotes radicalization and terrorism (Fowler 2011). It has further culminated into strict immigration rules for persons entering America from Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya among others from the Middle East.
- The Trump presidency further puts the church in an awkward position in which the State is gradually adopting a seclusion agenda of protecting the country’s interest without considering the global effect this may pose to the rest of the world. The position has put the state in a difficult situation in which it is going against the fundamental duty of protecting human life irrespective of nationality.
Impact of the Future Relationship
Considering the current events unfolding between the State and the Church, the two institutions still got a long way to go to establish a cordial relationship. With the strict immigration legislations, the church will continue to pressure and criticize the State for perpetuating cruel and inhuman acts of innocent individuals. The church will continue to argue that, with the current unrest in many countries with many people facing political persecution, the State need to relax its rules on immigration to help political refugees and innocent mothers and children. According to Fowler (2010), the future relationship between the two institutions will continue to be pegged on socioeconomic and political differences that touch of individuality and human relations. For example, the Church will continue to oppose same-sex marriages, a situation that will eventually deteriorate the relationship between the two institutions. As many Americans continue to embrace Christianity and good lifestyle based on family values, the State will try to establish legislations that control on the country’s well-being. To safeguard the constitution, the State will ensure that the church does not promote issues and legislations that may undermine the country’s core values as outlined in the Human rights Act.
Additionally, due to unavoidable circumstances, the church will attempt to withdraw and avoid any direct opposition with the State and instead take a bi-partisan approach to issues. For example, on military and protection of the citizens from terrorist attacks, the church will avoid any public opposition to the States actions to counter attack any terrorist attack. However, relations between the two will improve as they forge to establish a joint front towards enhancing and promoting human right all through the country.
Fowler, R. B. (2010). Religion and Politics in Americ: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices. ReadHowYouWant. com.
Fowler, R. B., Hertzke, A. D., Olson, L. R., den Dulk, K. R., War, C., Divide, D., … & Keeter, S. (2011). Religion and Politics in America. 1985.
Kohut, A., Green, J. C., Keeter, S., & Toth, R. C. (2001). The Diminishing Divide: Religion’s Changing Role in American politics. Brookings Institution Press.
Norris, P., & Inglehart, R. (2011). Sacred and Secular: Religion and politics worldwide. Cambridge University Press.
Steensland, B., Robinson, L. D., Wilcox, W. B., Park, J. Z., Regnerus, M. D., & Woodberry, R. D. (2000). The measure of American religion: Toward improving state of the art. Social Forces, 79(1), 291-318.