Response to “A Globalized God”, by Scott M. Thomas
Arguments can be made to counter Scott M. Thomas’s claim that religion is on the rise worldwide. Nonetheless, we must not discount his theory that religion is and will be playing a larger and larger role in international politics and must therefore decide what to do about it. As Thomas pointed out, religious conflict has sparked wars and debate for centuries; one could make an argument that it has been this way since nearly the beginning of organized religion. The Russian Orthodox Church is still having problems with its neighboring Muslim population more than 700 years since they started fighting for power and influence. While religious conflict and politics have greatly evolved since then there is still significant evidence for religion’s influence on culture, populations, and therefore politics. Thomas listed many different religious conflicts between different groups within a state that have caused blood-shed and political debate, for example, Hindu-Christian tensions in India. The influence of religion on politics goes beyond just populations of followers fighting one another or the political body in power in their state, it can go as far as to change or shape this same political body; in Russia, this concept applies specifically to the Orthodox church which is expected to act as “an organ of the state” in the near future.
The question we must answer then is whether or not religion, regardless if it’s on the rise or not, is conducive to democracy and the nation-state. Much evidence would suggest that it is; religion can promote social welfare and can reinforce or create collective identities since certain religions allow people to join and assimilate to a new culture. However, religion can also be harmful to the state as it can be the backbone of terrorism and terrorist groups and can foster local or national conflicts over religious differences, often leading to violence and bloodshed. Arguments can...
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