Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Can Religion Be Separated From The State?

Recently, on another blog, the following sweeping statement was made: to condemn Jews for what Israel does is nonsense.

Now I think that this is a curious statement, one that, for some reason, attempts to clearly separate the Jewish religion from the actions of the Israeli Government. But is it feasible to separate religion from the actions of any government?

Let's start with George Bush, the President of the United States, a man who talks daily to a Christian God, who makes no bones about stating that he is on a Divine Mission, a crusade, that God is on his side. Not much separation there! In his country (unlike in some European nations) the Christian religion is very strong. There are many devout Christians (and Jews) in the Congress and the Senate. The Presidential candidates try to outdo each other in their pious profession of religious belief. In America there are also all manner of Christian fundamentalist groups, some of whom are pushing for a nuclear attack on Iran so that they can, in the firestorm of Armageddon, go to heaven without dying (the Rapturists). Separation - what separation?

Now what about if we take the Muslim religion as another example. Here too religion and politics are inextricably intertwined. There is talk of a Caliphate, a union of Muslim nations run by a Muslim theocracy. In Iran such a theocracy is already in operation with religion strongly influencing and controlling the way the country is run.

Now back to Israel. Israel is, for Jews, their religious homeland, the land of the prophets, of Moses. Jews the world over have been flooding Israel with money and support for decades. I have closely watched the growth of Israel over the last seven years, watched as they have continued to crush the Palestinians, to commit genocide, to commit endless atrocities, to steal more land, to humiliate those whom they have occupied for forty years. And what is fueling their atrocious behaviour?

Their religion of course, their unshakable belief that they are 'The Children of God', that they are special, that all others on earth are goys and therefore unworthy. There are some secular Israelis but the bulk of them are driven by their religion (just as devout Muslims are driven by their religion and many Christians are driven by their religion). And, of course, all religions preach exclusivity for their followers and claim that THEIR god is THE god!

Of course, the Jewish religion not only influences what the State of Israel does but its influence in America via the Neocons is also strong (see my Rogues Gallery post). I've read hundreds of articles that that clearly show that the Neocons are actually manipulating American policy to advantage Israel's own imperial ambitions. It really does pay to read widely and keep an open mind!

My point is that the relationship between religion and politics is always blurred and that religion affects the way people see things and therefore their behaviour. The stronger the belief, the more affected the behaviour. Once I was very religious so I know just how strong the effect can be!

I have argued long and hard on my blog for the lessening of the influence of all religions because religion can and often does lead to a dangerous, divisive, conflict-prone mindset. In fact, the current conflict between the Jewish-Muslim-Christian ideologies could well escalate and destroy our world in the near future.

To try to maintain that religion and national politics are entirely separate is more wishful thinking than fact especially in the case of Israel, America and Iran. It is also a dangerous, if not naive position because it stops people from connecting the dots, from seeing the true picture.

You can't unscramble eggs by proclamation!

Photo Link.


Renegade Eye said...

The best you can do, is be secular yourself, and fight for the seperation of church and state.

Daniel said...

Renegade, while religion reigns there will never be peace or widespread acceptance of reality. Cheers!

Coffee Messiah said...

As long as there are enough "sheeple" who are willing to be lead without question, this will never end.

After working here in the midwest for 11 yrs where,(no offense to those who do)laziness and the quest for new knowledge is at the lowest I've ever seen.

And so it goes.....

Daniel said...

Coffee, unfortunately religion is motivating some people and some nations to act badly, very badly.

The more fanatical the belief, the worse the behaviour is. Cheers!

Cheezy said...

But isn't condemning "Jews" for the actions of the Israeli government (i.e. not bothering to be more precise in your definition, but tarring them all with the same brush) just as bad as condemning "Muslims" for acts of terrorism like 9-11 and 7-7?

There are millions of Jews who don't agree with everything Israel does, just as there are millions of Muslims who abhor terrorism.

I know people like this, from both groups.

I think that it's valid (and correct) to identify and reproach the religious components of the world's conflicts - and I happen to agree with you that the more separate church and state becomes, in all countries, the better - however I think we should be more careful in our use of language, so as not to falsely accuse people of something just because they happen to share a relgious belief with the 'bad guys'.

Daniel said...

Cheezy, I worked as a successful journalist and author for well over a decade and taught English before that so I am always very measured in my choice of language, more careful than some. Also, I do not use my blog to promote trendy attitudes and values. I call each issue as I see it!

Meanwhile, back to the thread: if Jews are blameless then who can be blamed for the atrocities that Israel regularly carries out? If Jews are blameless (even though they have elected a succession of genocidal Israeli Governments)then who is left in Israel to point the finger at? The Eskimos? The Hotentots from Africa? Martians perhaps?

Thanks for calling by!

Cheezy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daniel said...

Cheezy, let's back up a bit! My post was based upon a statement that: to condemn Jews for what Israel does is nonsense.

At least you seem willing to agree that 'some Jews' are responsible for the brutality and genocide that Israel is carrying out in the Palestinian Territory. That is a sign of progress. We can argue about using the word 'some' or 'many' or 'most' of course.

I agree that if Israel returned to the 1967 borders that would help but they won't do that because they are caught up by the blinding, narrow vision of building an exclusive Judaic Holy Land, home of their Prophets, a place where they can worship their punitive God. Christians and Muslims are not welcome even though both have strong links to the Holy Land too!

I too am an atheist and fear for what Christian-Muslim-Judaic religious fanatics will eventually visit upon our world. I guess even moderate believers must share some of the responsibility for what the fanatics do. They too are part of the support base!


Cheezy said...

I agree with most of what you say in your last post, except for the bit about "even moderate believers must share some of the responsibility for what the fanatics do".

Whether a person believes in some style of God and a particular bunch of Bible stories is surely up to them and their own perception of the Universe. It's a big part of personal 'freedom'.

I fail to see how this personal belief should have any effect on how 'responsible' they are for the actions of people who happen to share this belief.

Now, if I had a magic wand and could use it to banish all religion (or more accurately, people's desire/need for religion) from the world, then I would do so in a millisecond.

This isn't going to happen though, so unfortunately we're stuck with a big bunch of people with historical religiously-motivated enmities.

In this situation, blaming innocent people for the actions of the guilty is only going to stir up more hatred and more conflict.

With that exception, it looks like we've reached some sort of consensus here. Thanks for publishing and addressing my comments seriously (and not altering them like some do!)...


Daniel said...

Hey, Cheezy, on my blog I welcome people who are willing to discuss issues. So many aren't! If you don't tell them what they want to hear, you're blacklisted! I guess that's one reason why the world is so conflicted.

The question of whether all believers, who range from having a token belief right up to those best described as fanatics, should share the responsibility for what is done in the name of their religion is an interesting one.

It's kind of like saying that most people's 'innocent' materialism has nothing to do with global warming. Question of association I guess.

Thanks for joining my debate!