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An essay relating to church and state with references to Democracy In America by Alexis de Tocqueville

Updated on March 17, 2010

Church and State

Tocqueville’s inclination to discuss such principal foundations of religion and its muscle in America began with his assessment of priests and multiple sects across the country. He discovered, with revelation, the lack of express political influence faith seemed to grasp in the nation. The priests were not refused direct political power but understood the dangers of uniting creed and rule. They instituted their true control through a lack of unification. This truth, Tocqueville revealed, and the true nature of man and religion jointly came from the very character of man himself. One life time, even for one man, will not do. Man at the same time scorns live and all his incomplete happiness’s and fears death and nothingness more than anything. Religion with its roots found in hope, hope of something after death, and hope for more, is the key vigor and strength that in some sort of good judgment cannot fail a man.

            There have been many societies in many times and places where religion and even closer to its origin hope, fastens itself to political power, earthly power. When man tries to make Gods laws meld with their short lasting earthly laws it causes religion to choose among the people of a particular government a select group; religion when united with government follows some and increases power with a select minority but loses so many others. Religion becomes quite fragile like so many earthly laws and desires. When united with politics it takes course with mans sentiments and follows its interest rather than carrying with it those that defend and love it.

            In America priests are aware of this possible jeopardy and so they heed the warning. They unearth their clout through separation and embrace those that pursue them. In most, maybe all, governments that have established with their power a religion turn too many away. The religion becomes corrupt and in the end destroys the true purpose religion had. Some many pursue other religions others turn their backs and some, of course still follow, when religion bonds itself to politic. Though when a religion has not united itself with government, even with such freedom like in America, the religion or variety of religions protect themselves; when this happens each religion practices among its select few complete power. Man then ends up seeing, even with those who do not share such beliefs, that religion is a guide, a way of life, and not a political estimation. When religion unites itself with politics, religion becomes as cold and meaningless as the laws and policies created and destroyed everyday.

            Tocqueville’s argument summarized above these words seems thorough enough to at least buy my thoughts on the topic. I say this because his argument begins with the very same seed of nature, hope that coerces man and religious conviction as a solitary, in concert. He moves through his argument by focusing on the way man has reacted when their government has united with a particular religion. He gives us paths a man could take in response to such a state of existence, a meager sad existence of resentment towards the sentiments that sway the nature of their faith. Then he follows up with a solution and an understanding of this solution by American citizens. He finishes his argument with a sort of opinion, and my opinion too; the accidental unification of church and state.


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