Hundreds of talks and discussions have been held regarding the interrelations and the degree of integration between religion and politics. Moreover, numerous opposite ideas have been presented on this topic. Many scientists support the idea that the processes of modernization and urbanization decrease the importance and dominance of religion in modern society. However, numerous scholars reject this idea. It is assumed that state and church are characterized by unequal division of labor and disproportionate balance of power. The paper aims to estimate and evaluate the concept of sacred and secular. In addition, the attention will be paid to the relationships between religion and politics. Moreover, the purpose of the paper is to prove that the degree of integration between state and church is variable.
Keywords: sacred, secular, integration, church, politics, state.
The Division of Labor between Sacred and Secular
Since the time of its establishment and expansion, religion and politics have interacted in numerous ways with the purpose to ensure stability and development of the American society. Besides, religion and political science have contributed to dozens of debates in order to play the principal role and to prove the preferential significance. The paper aims to determine and analyze the importance of religion and politics for the entire humanity. In addition, the purpose of the study is to deal with the concept of sacred and secular. The relationships as well as the degree of integration between state and church will be established and discussed. Moreover, much attention will be paid to the division of labor between sacred and secular, and the balance of power between state and church.
In order to examine the processes of integration between sacred and secular, it is necessary to estimate how to define these concepts in modern life. The phenomenon of religion is primarily based on conceptions of God. In other words, religion is, as a rule, understood as a strong belief in ever living and almighty God. It is usually understood as a persuasive and driving force that motivates people around the world to unite, cooperate, and integrate (Mandaville, 2008).
Similar processes and tendencies are peculiar to politics. It has been estimated that politics as well as religion have a unique power to divide and to unite humans around the world. To be precise, the spheres of sacred and secular obtain the power to turn people into the most faithful and devoted friends. However, religion and politics may also change humans into deadly enemies. These concepts are closely related to the phenomena of conflicts and collaboration among people in different countries. In such a way, with the help of religious and political believes, people strive to cooperate, to work together, and to reach the same goals on the basis of reciprocal arrangements. At the same time, religion and politics directly participate in creating so-called competition among opposing forces, resulting in diversity of thoughts, needs, and preferences. Often, conflicts and cooperation are considered to be major backgrounds or bases for religious and political understanding that result in harmony and prosperity of societies around the world. Thus, secular and sacred may be treated as the exercise of control, domination, influence, and power. Besides, politics and religion can be explained as the methods of conflict resolution and competition among people in the process of achieving goals (Mandaville, 2008).
Nowadays, scientists claim that these two phenomena demonstrate inability to mix and cooperate because of the rise of secularism. According to the opinions of some researchers, the issue of secularism should be understood as the isolation of church institutions from the state institutions. The origin of secularism should be traced back to the period of establishment and development of a sovereign state. Experts in the sphere of religious and political sciences assure that numerous proofs concerning the existence of secularism can be found in historical documents about Christianity and Islam. In contrast to Christian tradition, Islam does not recognize any theological separation between politics and religion. It is extremely important to emphasize that the contemporary history of secularism is closely intertwined with such processes as philosophical Enlightenment and the establishment of contemporary political sovereignty (Mandaville, 2008).
Researchers have paid attention to the fact that the period of Enlightenment was directly connected with a transformation of how humans understood the origins, power, and status of knowledge. Before the Enlightenment, the concept of truth was believed to originate from human faith and religion. Nonetheless, the Age of reason provided the humanity with the unique opportunity to feel more autonomous, independent, and rational. In addition, the phenomenon of the Enlightenment gave a chance to people to understand that faith, knowledge, and truth depended on the effort of human reason. In other words, people were assured they had enough power to change the world around them. Moreover, in recent years, numerous research studies together with political events have resulted in multiple reinterpretations and reconsiderations of traditional understanding of secularism and the importance of religion today. Consequently, the majority of sociologists of religion emphasize that it is extremely difficult to evaluate the place of religion in modern world. Furthermore, numerous scholars, including Talal Asad, assure the phenomena of religion and politics are absolutely distinct and opposite spheres. For this reason, it is almost impossible to contrast and explain the relationships and interactions between religion and politics (Mandaville, 2008).
Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell in the book “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us” pay attention to the role of religion and politics in America. The authors attempt to examine and assess the process of complex interactions between religious and political sciences in the period of the last half-century, and to estimate the contribution of religion to stability and prosperity of the U. S. democracy (Putnam & Campbell, 2010).
They describe the processes of religious polarization and pluralism in different states of the U.S.. In addition, Putnam and Campbell describe the phenomena of switching, matching, and mixing of religion and politics in the country. The researchers make an attempt to estimate and evaluate the interaction and cooperation among church and state (Putnam & Campbell, 2010).
First of all, the authors claim that the majority of the Americans are truly religious people. For example, eighty three percent of the population belong to a certain type of religion. Also, above forty percent of people regularly attend religious masses and services. According to the results of extensive surveys provided by both researchers, more than eighty percent of the Americans are convinced that almighty God exists. Religious traditions in the U.S. are based on representatives of various religions, including Evangelical Protestant, Catholic, Mainline Protestant, Jewish, Mormon and others (Putnam & Campbell, 2010).
It is extremely important to note that Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell present reasonable proofs with the purpose to demonstrate the ways of interaction and cooperation between religion and politics. Scientists emphasize that sacred or, in other words, church has the power to influence and alter political views. The authors state, sacred and secular share similar features because of their similar background. Putnam and Campbell support the idea that there is something magical and powerful in knowing that millions of people worldwide are busy with the same ideas and confidence (Putnam & Campbell, 2010).
On the basis of the book “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us”, the authors try to prove that sacred and secular can not only coexist, but cooperate as well. It means that people are united by despite the existence of a vast number of political and religious differences. Likewise, according to the opinions of some scientists, contemporary religion and conservative politics have succeeded in setting up a so-called political-religious alliance. Despite numerous political and religious diversities, the American society has successfully managed to avoid civil wars, violence, and rebellions. It is extremely necessary to note that in the process of researching into religious and political views, the authors made dozens of valuable findings and results (Putnam & Campbell, 2010).
First of all, Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell call attention to the fact that many citizens of America are ready to change their believes in order to match their politics and vice versa. Secondly, they also express the idea about the existence of so-called “God Gap” in the sphere of the U.S. politics. Thirdly, the proponents of the Democratic Party are considered to be more faithful, religious, and devoted than the Democrats. Further, the authors lay the stress on the fact that American believers are far more cooperative, friendly, and loyal than secular citizens. Religious or believing Americans, as a rule, provide much more voluntary aid and donate significant sums of money for different purposes in comparison with others. Additionally, church goers are more willing to provide help to homeless people and to assist someone in finding a job. In such a way, the authors attempt to prove that people who believe in God are more involved in their communities than those who do not believe (Putnam & Campbell, 2010).
Furthermore, Putnam and Campbell ensure religion has enough power to influence huge number of political events and social changes. For instance, it affected and was affected by such extraordinary changes as the civil rights and feminists movements, enhanced immigration, and ethnic inequality. For example, the authors claim that women's rights movements were stimulated and developed by secular culture because religious Americans supported more traditional and well-established attitudes towards the role of women in the society. Another interesting detail, believing Americans, as a rule, have more friends of a lower social group in comparison with non-believing citizens (Putnam & Campbell, 2010).
In the book “Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide” Norris P. and Inglehart R. describe the processes of integration of sacred and secular. Moreover, the researchers pay attention to the secularization debate. According to their opinions , the majority of philosophers and thinkers of the nineteenth century, including H. Spencer, M. Weber, and S. Freud, believed that with the development and expansion of industrial society, the role of religion would obviously decrease and fade. The scholars emphasize the processes of secularization, urbanization, and bureaucratization will definitely change its role in modern society when compared with politics. Secularization, according to estimations of scientists, will result in complete disappearance of sacred. In other words, the role of church in industrial society will become insignificant (Norris & Inglehart, 2004).
It should be stated that in the process of exploration of sacred and secular in modern society, Norris P. and Inglehart R. make attempts to base their study on the U. S. state. They have paid attention to the church attendance in the country. The purpose of the book “Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide” is to estimate how these concepts interact. To be precise, they want to determine how religious and political institutions coexist and cooperate (Norris & Inglehart, 2004).
Additionally, the authors draw attention to the fact that the process of industrialization together with the increase of bureaucracy and technological “consciousness” made religion less dominant and less plausible. As a result, Incredible achievements in the fields of medicine, biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics gave a chance to mankind to understand they have enough power to control nature. Consequently, natural catastrophes, disastrous wars, and lethal diseases were understood as predictable and preventable factors (Norris & Inglehart, 2004).
Norris P. and Inglehart R. estimate that separation of church and state, and the increase of secular-rational bureaucratic states resulted in significant decrease in the ruling of spiritual leaders and institutions. Wherefore, the dominant role of religion in modern society has been altered and changed into secondary one. The authors make a conclusion that the processes of so-called “modernization”, including the increasing rates of wealth and education, have significantly weakened the influence and power of religious institutions. In consequence, the most advanced and developed societies are characterized by decreased levels of church attendance. It should be noted that, the clergy, in comparison with political leaders, have lost authority. On the one hand, sacred institutions are deprived of opportunity to control and approve such matters and events as birth control, sexual orientation, abortion etc. On the other hand, the authors assure it is a mistake to suppose that the phenomenon of secularization is constantly increasing and religion will gradually be neglected. According to their opinion, rich nationalities are more secularizing than poor (Norris & Inglehart, 2004).
Finally, in the process of analyzing global trends and movements in secularization and religiosity, the authors summarize that these phenomena are transforming the ways people live. More precisely, secularization has a power to influence all spheres of human activities. The authors of the book compare and discuss the connections between religious leaders and political parties in order to estimate if it is possible for them to coexist and cooperate. They make a conclusion that in many countries, including the U.S., religiosity has a strong influence on division of parties for the electorate. So, church and politics appear to be extremely intertwined and interdependent (Norris & Inglehart, 2004).
As a result, the role of religion in global politics is extremely complex and unexplored. Numerous researchers have made attempts to estimate and evaluate the interrelations between the place of sacred and secular in modern societies. In order to understand the degree of integration between religion and politics, it is necessary to recognize the existence of enormous diversities within these two worlds. Despite their separation, these institutions successfully interact and cooperate on a global level. Although, secularism is extremely developed in many societies around the world, religion continues the play the dominant role for multiple reasons.