Complement of State & Church: Path to Peace?

Gothic Bathroom - Jean Baptiste Mallet

The nihilists, who can't be bothered to exercise self-discipline, will argue that Religion is the "opium of the people", a control system that precludes creativity (I'd say Da Vinci, Caravaggio and others would disagree), food for the simple minded, the gullible; and that the root of wars. But the fact is: religion is the foundation of culture and it can contribute to peace and understanding.

Culture is a set of inherited ideas, values, beliefs and knowledge.
Religion is a belief in and reverence for a Higher Power; which will shape people's behaviour through the creation of a set of rules and values that will, in turn, be passed down from generation to generation (i.e. culture).
Therefore, the very same individuals who reject religion are in fact a paradox for their comportment is influenced by certain rules - like the Noahide laws, for example - and thus by religion itself.

Pseudo-intellectuals fancy to declare war on religion, since it is the root of evil in the world (when you ask why, they always give the same examples: the Inquisition, the Catholic Church's corruption, the Evangelical tithe, the Jewish self-exclusion, the Buddhist violence, the Gujarat riots etc [though leaving out the Muslim proclivity for violence]); but in truth religion has offered some of the most beautiful concepts in human existence (individualism, enlightenment, development, evolution etc) due to their core teachings. For instance:

"A good Christian desires to become an individual like Jesus, a person that has a direct and personal relationship with God/Jesus and is thus answerable first and foremost to God/Jesus and not to man or the laws of man. This idea of the autonomous individual, one who is capable of making moral decisions for himself and by himself and is responsible for the results of his actions is the seed that eventually formed the basis for Western individualistic society." -- Joab Cohen in The Role of Christianity in the Promotion of Individualism

"The Gifts of the Jews explains, in very appreciative terms, how the rise of Judaism in the 2nd millennium B.C. created the foundations of Western society itself. Cahill argues that the most basic ideas we take for granted in modern society and in our daily lives are actually based on ideas invented by the Jewish people and formulated in the Old Testament. (..) Abraham left a culture in which time was cyclical and eternal, in which nothing changed or ever could change: life simply repeated itself endlessly. (..) This is, really, the beginning of mankind's struggle to change his fate, the beginning of the drive for Tikkun Olam. (..) Dissatisfaction with things as they are, hoping and striving for a better future that exists only in our imagination - Cahill attributes these ideas to Judaism." -- Joab Cohen in The Gifts of Jews: Why Jews are Loved and Loathed

"The Three Trainings or Practices:
Sila: Virtue, good conduct, morality. This is based on two fundamental principles:
- The principle of equality: that all living entities are equal.
- The principle of reciprocity: This is the "Golden Rule" in Christianity -- to do onto others as you would wish them to do onto you. It is found in all major religions.
Samadhi: Concentration, meditation, mental development. Developing one's mind is the path to wisdom which in turn leads to personal freedom. Mental development also strengthens and controls our mind; this helps us maintain good conduct.
Prajna: Discernment, insight, wisdom, enlightenment. This is the real heart of Buddhism. Wisdom will emerge if your mind is pure and calm." -- Buddhism's Core Beliefs 

Despite having offered so much to mankind, religion is viewed with negative eyes; due to lack of wisdom, understanding and knowledge. An enlightened individual knows the problem lies not within religion but in Man: his corruption, his evil choices, his ignorance.

Religion is the root of behaviour, of rules, of ideas; and, according to Immanuel Kant (in Perpetual Peace), religion and language "morally integrate liberal states, as culture grows and men gradually move towards greater agreement over their principles, they lead to mutual understanding and peace"...

Separation of State & Church has been positive to a certain point, given the history of political-religion; however that concept pushed religion to the shadows and history has also proven that purging politics of it doesn't work either. Therefore, if indeed we seek a world where mutual understanding and peace prevail, hasn't the time come for us to talk about a Complement of State & Church?

Comments

  1. As far as I'm concerned, in Israel politicians should work with rabbis until God's plan is fulfilled, period! We'll find obstacles, the damn left will want to deter us but together we can do a great job! עם ישראל is about unity, unity in all levels and that is why עם ישראל חי! For us, total separation is not an option so, hell yeah, complement of state and church is the path to ultimate peace.

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    1. Hi Ana :D!

      And after God's plan is fulfilled, what are your plans for the rabbis?
      Good point.

      עם ישראל חי

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  2. Religion was pushed out of politics for good reason, so I don't think reinstating the connection between church and state is a good idea. Actually, I'm not sure there's anything wrong with the current American arrangement - people can believe or not believe and the State has nothing to do with it. Why is that bad? The fact that some people view religion negatively or misunderstand it is not an institutional problem - it's a personal one. Great quotes, by the way :)

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    1. Joab, the American arrangement, as you put it, is not that clean. If you want to be a president you have to have a religious belief, you have to pretend you go to church otherwise you're done; so religion is not that independent of the state, is it? But even if I'm wrong, and I probably am, a state without religion lacks morals and tends to pervert its national identity, as seems to be the case both in the US and Europe. Is that a good thing? Congrats on your quotes, great job.

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    2. Celeste, religious belief of leaders like the president is not mandated by law. It is necessary for nominees because there are many people that are religious and professing a belief enhances their chances of being elected. In other words we have to distinguish between the people, who are religious, and the state, which is not and shouldn't be, in my opinion.

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    3. Joab, I stand corrected, thanks. I'm not a proponent of mixing state with religion cause it doesn't work in terms of theocracy, however the state has the obligation to tell its citizens the official religion of the nation to avoid abuse from foreign forces. Europe in 2009 rejected the calls to include in the European Union treaty the designation of Christian union of countries cause it wanted to protect the absolute separation of church and state and look where we are now: Muslims are imposing sharia law in some European countries and they are just getting started. This wouldn't have happened if Europe had asserted herself as Christian. I know many in America fear the same.

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    4. Hi Joab :D!

      I am not suggesting a theocracy for our countries (since it doesn't work). I am suggesting a de facto (not de jure) complement of state and religion, which would entail starting by declaring countries officially Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist etc in order to send the proper messages. This doesn't mean that protection of rights laws would be scrapped, no; but it means taking a stand.
      Absolute "secularism" has become dangerous to national interests.

      Too radical for you? :)

      I love your blog. I have been visiting but failed to leave comments - but I will.

      Joab, thank you so much for comment :D. Loved it.

      Cheers

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  3. It depends, Max. I agree that the absolute separation of the two hasn't worked but I'm not sure what complementing the two would entail: is political Islam a complement of state and church? If so, how would it bring peace when those guys are all for expansion? Perhaps Ana is right, perhaps the concept would only work for Israel, for obvious reasons.

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    1. Hi Celeste :D!

      Political Islam is a theocracy, basically; we can't call it a complement of state and church. Plus, a complement is a de facto measure, not a de jure - know what I mean?

      Celeste, thank you so much for your comment :D.

      Cheers

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  4. Although every American knows that the US Constitution mandates "separation of church and state" (!), the same constitution says exactly nothing about "separation of mosque and state". Since "church" is an exclusively Christian term (from Lord+house = kuriakon in Greek), technically any religion or religious doctrine can be established provided it conflicts with Christianity! Thus, California was providing government funding to some Madrasas for a time.

    I have been pondering the possibility that every complaint of a behavior that anti-religion throws at religion, the anti-religionists have been guilty of that same behavior to an even greater degree. For example, atheist ideological driven killings, being in the many tens of millions, has likely exceeded all the religiously inspired killings of history combined. The inquisition was minor compared to the gulags, and atheists have burned more books and done more censoring. Did I miss anything?

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    1. Hi Looney :D!

      Good point (although I meant something different) - you are right. California funded Madrasas for a while? Wow.

      Yes, they have been guilty of the same - look at communist countries, don't they practically do the same as the Catholic church did for a while?
      No, you didn't miss anything. Ah, wait, and, generally speaking, they are as anti-Semitic as the Church was back then too.

      Looney, thank you so much for super comment :D.

      Cheers

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  5. It's best to keep religion and politics separated no matter what. It's not working? Well, maybe it just needs some tweaking here and there like getting rid of corrupt politicians and the leftist influence.

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    1. Michael, given that politics is driven by a mix of values and selfish interest, and the values part is driven exclusively by religion or a memory of religion, do you really think any thing good will happen by deleting religion from the mix? And would it even be possible to separate religion from politics? The leftists preach their values as religious imperatives on their holy days, and the next day march into court and file a lawsuit claiming that those same values are secular imperatives and that are mandated under the separation of church and state. Absent religion, we are left with secularism, which famously has no principles, except the principle that it alone has principles.

      But I think Max's point was that the secularist noise has so dumbed down the discourse that modern civilization is failing to grapple with philosophical concepts that can only be arrived at through religion. This includes all philosophical concepts.

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    2. Hi Michael :D!

      I agree with Looney, nothing good can come out from the decision of obliterating the only side that teaches us about morals and values.
      What kind of tweaking would you propose without violating rights and the so-called democratic values?

      Mike, thank you for your comment :D.

      Cheers

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  6. I could not agree more. Here in India secularism had meant minority appeasement and disgracing the majority and this has had its predictable backlash with the majority now having elected its party to rule crowing and getting aggressive. Had the earlier years been one of complementing the state with relgions, we need not have come to this sorry state of affairs.

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    1. Hi Rummuser :D!

      Good point.

      "Had the earlier years been one of complementing the state with relgions, we need not have come to this sorry state of affairs."

      Agreed.

      Rummy, thank you so much for your super comment :D.

      Cheers

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