Thursday, December 24, 2015

How we get religions and politics

Nasir Khan, December 24, 2015

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

― American author Mark Twain (1835-1910)
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In Norway, people say if you discuss religion and politics then your social contacts with your friends will have a short life. I am acutely aware of this dilemma because I often discuss religion and politics in my articles and comments that I share with many. No wonder if I can count the number of my close friends on the fingers of only one hand! (What a sad loss!)



Both religions and politics have their long lives that outlive us as individuals. In fact, both religions and politics share some common concerns that make them appealing to their followers. We follow religions because our ancestors have done so. In our childhood, we may ask some odd question but soon we find that the social pressure to conform prevails and we fall in line with the common traditional practices in our inherited religion. Western societies may have found some middle way, but the vast majorities of Afro-Asian societies follow the traditional pattern in matters of religion.

Some people may be modest not to proclaim the superiority of their religion, their religious beliefs or ‘their’ God/gods. But they are limited in numbers. Most followers of a religion take a different course. They may say something that amounts to this: ‘Other religions are false and based on wrong beliefs, but my religion is real and the best’, ‘our God is the only true God because he is not man-made as some others have’, and so on.

In politics, we have more or less the same. For instance, in the United States, there are only Democratic and Republican parties that have monopoly over power. You are either a Dem or a Rep by birth! Only a few may cross the party lines but the vast majorities of the two parties remain loyal to the party they inherited from their parents. Therefore, I find the traditional attitudes towards religion and politics Mark Twain referred to be empirically accurate.
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