Impact of Religion on Contemporary Politics

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Amongst countless issues of the decade, an appealing dispute, that is persistent, is the significant impact of religion on contemporary politics and its perpetual distinction between the positive and negative influences that is associated with the effect. Religion has consistently been a resilient drive of change, development and settlement. Religion has been the core of several systems of human affairs that co-exist today including economics, welfare, law, philosophy, art and most importantly, politics.[1] However, according to historian Farhang Mehr, "... a realistic appraisal of the current impact of religion on the official policy and governmental structure of each country can only be made in its historical context: the record of the colonial rule in that country, indigenous conditions, cultural background, and people's real and perceived grievances."[2] Relevant examples consisting of the attitude of religion in the political affairs of Israel[3], the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in shaping the entirety of politics in Quebec[4] and the emergence of Islam as a political force in many countries like Iran[5], reveal that these events and many others throughout history are substantial catalysts in determining the intensity of the religious impact on modern-day politics.[6]

The impact of religion on politics cannot be seen with all its fierceness and intensity anywhere else in the world but in the Middle East as it highlights the Arab-Jewish wars in the region that have been going on and off for almost the past 60 years.[7] Religion is of utmost importance in the Holy Land (Israel) and hence, religious disputes are a commonality to the Israeli crowd which is a combination of religious (observant) and non-religious (secular) Jews.[8] The arrangement creates an environment where either party has harsh demands and even though, neither group ends up winning; it always leads to frustration on either side.[9] The role of state-supported religion is usually studied as the issue that is responsible for the problem in the relationship between religion and politics.[10] Despite the fact that the major monotheistic religions namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam take pride in originating in the Holy Land of Israel, the population of Israel comprises of 80% Jews; of which approximately one-fifth consider themselves to be "religious" or in other words, wholly or partially observant of Jewish law.[11] The vast remainder of the Jews still pursue the path of their ancestors by practicing the traditions and sacraments of Judaism but persevere to maintain a 'Jewish state' by standing on secular ground.[12] All be it, whilst the virtually divided Jews were found surviving the disputes between the two groups, the aspiration of a Jewish state led to the encouragement that public policies of the nation should replicate its Jewish nature and be a stronghold for Jews all around the world.[13] From religious texts and proven findings, it is well recognized that the land that is called 'Israel', currently, is considered the 'Promised Land' - the land that they have always been promised by God. Due to various historical incidents that included invasions, battles and conquests, the Jews were spread across different parts of the Middle East and some parts of Europe. The followers of the Zionist movement (support of establishment of independent, separate Jewish State in Palestine)[14] pressed for a Jewish State and after plenty of bruises and broken bones, Israel was recognized and formed in 1948.[15] The very purpose of the formation of a Jewish state alone shows that it has more to do with the religion than with simply a group of people wanting a country and therefore, it is clearly evident that religion has played a major role in the shaping of the politics of Israel. The only essential conclusion is that decisions in modern-day politics in Israel usually comes down to two religious groups than two political groups due to diverse...
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