Religion and Politics

It’s too easy to dismiss a political agenda when it seems wrapped up in a religion driven viewpoint (or vice versa, for that matter). Indeed there are very often correlations that reoccur, but correlation does not always prove causation. Many people in the U.S. don’t understand the nuances of how religion and politics are (or aren’t) intertwined in other cultures — the Middle East comes to mind. This lack of understanding undermines our ability to effectively govern, not to mention seriously damaging our credibility globally.

Even in our country it often appears, at least in the media, that the Christian religion is very tied into the white upper middle class GOP agenda. The two are often portrayed hand in hand.

It’s not that simple.

The correlation is certainly there, but since we’re talking generalities and stereotyping already, consider the common understanding of two diverse demographics: compare the god fearing urban (African American) family to the christian church going upper middle class white suburban family. Statistically they generally don’t have the same political outlook.

Similarly one can also compare the urban family struggling to get by to the god fearing rural family also struggling. Though their circumstances are in many ways similar, and supported by the same religion, they aren’t going to agree politically (statistically), though there’s less of a gap than the scenario above.

It can be argued that their religions aren’t really the same either. They may worship the same god, with many underlying beliefs in common, but the application of many of those beliefs is different. A study of the nuance differences between different segments of the same religion will reveal a pretty significant divergence in some areas.

We clearly can’t lump them all together as one group in all contexts, even though they have certain very powerful factors in common.

Yet that’s exactly what we often tend to do. We have the resources and knowledge available to know better. We’re close enough to it to be able to see and understand it pretty clearly when we really try. It becomes much easier when we have more interactions with the other party (whether political or religious).

Juxtapose that assessment on to how we treat and act towards people we don’t have nearly as intimate an understanding of. Take Islam, for instance…

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