… two subjects which, we used to be told, should never be addressed in polite conversation, because a person’s Religion and politics were private matters and not to be aired in public. I realised, 60 years on, that I never knew how my parents voted in any election, although I could have probably have ventured an educated guess as time went by.
Religion and politics have always been the great dividers of society throughout the world and throughout the ages. Religion, in particular, has been responsible for more war and more bloodshed than anything else in most nations’ history, although they don’t care to admit it.. Political affiliations have been responsible for the downfall of many would be statesmen and the bankrupting of many countries. On a more basic level they are both destroyers of friendships and relationships and patriotism.
Personally, I have a ” live and let live ” attitude towards religion, and somewhat the same towards politics. Others find this difficult to comprehend and there is always pressure forthcoming to ” join ” something pertaining to a Religious order or a political party.
Its like when we were younger, and the cliquishness of our everyday lives. You weren’t anyone until you hung around with the popular clique when you had to assume a mantle composed of the airs and graces of the group and left your own behind.
Little wonder then , that, later in life, people become institutionalised into clubs and teams and societies, thereby selling their individuality for the reputation of the group to which they belong. Its akin to Jack the Ripper becoming a member of the Rotary Club, thus achieving status as a respectable member of society and all round good guy.
Religion isn’t a subject I would normally address. I experienced religious bigotry in a big way at one of my jobs, and I decided from then on to take a neutral stance. However my other interests in history and politics demonstrate that they are unavoidably intertwined with religion to a greater or lesser degree.
Much eggshell treading is exercised around religion and the Church in the Western world. No one wants to risk offending the Higher Power, just on the off chance that one exists. No one wants to discourage a person from worshiping their God as their religion dictates. This is where a Church is able to assume immense power over people and governments alike, and although they are always saying that they are broke and need your money, they are in fact richer than most small countries.
In fact , the Catholic church owns and operates from a small country and those in the Vatican have lifestyles which millionaires can only dream of, whilst the majority of their followers are cloaked in poverty and living in less than ” normal ” conditions. Logic escapes me at this point.
Another example of where religion became involved with politics is in the founding of the state of Israel, of which no man dare speak, without being expelled from the Labour Party.
As I’m not a member of the Labour Party I went ahead and did a bit of research. In simple form , what I found is, that in return for someone facilitating the American’s participation in World War One, the British government agreed to give land which it didn’t own to a religious group who’s right to settle there is still currently in dispute.
Why are we denied this knowledge as we make our progress through our education system ? Quite obvious really. I know when I read about this that my sense of Britishness took a nose dive, and there are many more instances that I have come across as I tread the backwaters of British history. But we ” won ” the war and our deviations from the straight and narrow are legitimately swept under the carpet. Until there is no more room under the carpet and stuff begins to leak, that is.
Western religious leaders seem to be taking a back seat in the current crises we are facing, except for Pope Francis taking the occasional swipe at the new President of the United States. He also had an historic meeting in Chile with the Russian Orthodox leader, who then went on to visit Antarctica, which is becoming an increasingly popular venue for religious and political leaders to visit.
I wonder why ? I don’t suspect it will be anything more sinister than wanting to see penguins in their natural habitat. But I could be wrong…
more to come…
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