“Those who say Religion has nothing to do with Politics knows nothing about Religion!”
This astonishing quote is ascribed to Gandhi. I was amazed. Sure- he was a great man. These words show that he was an extremely wily politician, as the British realized quite well. Independence of almost half the globe was not brought about by good intentions alone! It required oodles of astute politics.
Let us look at another quote, this time by a far more devilish figure- a right wing evangelist politician from America- Jerry Farrel- before he died in 2007:
“The idea that Religion and Politics are separate was made by the Devil”
Damn! What an idea, sirjee.
Look here, folks,
This boy, Religion, and the beautiful girl, Politics, were in love since kindergarten. Inseparable, one could say; as in:
“Religion is the Politics of a bygone era”
If we look at tribes who are still in the stone age, the medicine man is the priest. This is a post with power. The chief consults him in all matters. But here is the thing- there are many tribes in which a chief is not there. But none without a sorcerer or priest! He is the chief then!
This must have been the rule for a couple of hundred thousand years. Even in the dawn of civilization, emperors were appointed by the Gods. The God’s representative on earth! Look at the Pharaoh.
Kings with lineage from the Sun and the Moon- Suryavanshis and chandravanshis. Kshatriyas aided and abetted by the godly Brahmins!
Christianity bursts forth into the world stage, as a result of a similar love affair. The Roman Emperor Constantine, in the third century AD, was looking for a unifying religion in a fragmented empire. He hit upon Christianity.
This made it the preeminent seat of power in Europe, and it used it ruthlessly. Kings could not move without the pope’s permission.
It remained so till the fifteen hundreds, when a priest called Martin Luther turned against the Church:
“You are all scoundrels. Man can read the Bible and can have a direct relationship with God. The priests are unnecessary.” This was the gist of Luther’s teaching.
War! Massacre! Torture. Genocide by the tens of thousands. This was what followed when the Catholics and the Protestants under Luther clashed. Lutheranism became an even more grotesque instrument of torture and horror than Catholicism. From 1618, for thirty years, war raged in Europe. In countries like Germany, one third of the people perished.
With this,the people of Europe developed a deep distaste for religion. There were other reasons too. A need was felt to divide Religion from Politics. Folks started to read, and question.
Art and Literature flowered, freed from shackles- The Renaissance.
Curious men began exploring ideas. Science thrived- The Enlightenment.
Even when Europeans began their merciless colonial takeover of the world, religion was there, providing theoretical justification of their exploitation.
The thing is:
Religion was a framework for smooth functioning of primitive societies. It was a scaffold on which Politicians hung their wares.
But in large modern societies, it can be an instrument of oppression, because it invokes a value system that cannot be questioned, ever. It will impede Science and progress.
As the west realized this, they called for a Divorce. Between Religion and Politics. Yes, it is true. Secularism is a western construct.
Aren’t you happy with it?
You want Democracy? Then there is no alternative but accept it.
If you leave a little hole for Religion to seep in, it will eventually topple the entire ship. Look at Iran. Look at Pakistan. Both had beautiful, modern Constitutions at the start. But left loopholes for religion to snake in, and look at the pathetic result.
We simply cannot afford to go down that path. (Jimmy Mathew)