- Politics and Social Issues»
- Church & State Relations
Religion Is not a Reliable Guide in Assessing Politicians' Integrity
Monica Lewinsky (Photo from Digg)
With very few exceptions, religion is not like a law
Charlemagne of France was the first to make religion, Christianity, a prop for political power. He coddled the church and gave it some territory. He found that his subjects were easier to cajole with religion doing the soft touch.
Props of power
Benito Mussolini, the former Fascist dictator of Italy, adopted the ways of Charlemagne and gave the Vatican a one-square mile territory that has stayed up to the present.
There was a time religion was a military power onto itself. Remember the crusades? A crusade was meant to get back Jerusalem from the Muslims and to expiate one's sins. That was the time when the pope was also the general. There was one pope who had to postpone an attack on Jerusalem because he was afflicted with malaria. In the first crusade, the temple was ankle deep in blood of Muslim children, men, women, old people who were slaughtered by the Christian invaders.
When the pope was not his own general he admonished kings and princes to make his war on Jerusalem. There were about nine crusades that spanned from 1059 through to 1500s. One pope believed that virgins could not be harmed because they were sinless. Whereupon he unleased virgins, boys, to overwhelm Jerusalem. Unexperienced on the ways of war, these boys were slaughtered.
There was one prince who rebelled against the pope. He married a Muslim princess. The pope has the power of excommunication that was feared even by kings. But King Henry VIII of England did not fear excommunication. He cut his ties with the pope and established the Church of England in 1532 and made himself the supreme bishop. The pope excommunicated him but he and his subjects did seem to mind. The protestant movement has spread to North America.
Place for religion
In 1799, the French revolutionaries abolished the privileges of the Catholic church and installed a constitution for the church.
The Filipino revolutionaries against Spain established the Philippine Independent Church with Mgsr. Gregorio Aglipay as supreme bishop. Bernardino Nozaleda, then the archbishop of Manila, excommunicated Aglipay to scare him back to the fold of the pope. Aglipay excommunicated Nozaleda in return.
In the Philippines Spain subjugated the natives with the sword in one hand and the cross on the other. In fact, after the revolution against Spain in 1896 when the political power of Spain over the islands had been severed, the Catholic church has maintained its power unscathed. Presently the Catholic church is testing the waters by going against the reproductive health bill filed in Philippine congress.
Religion belongs in morality. It is not a law, except for some religions. One religion stipulates against charging interest on capital. So, it does not charge interest but gets some sort of service fee.
History has shown that religion is not a guarantee of integrity either. Morality is malleable. Although morality has a wider scope than power, power can subdue morality in some aspects. (I have a Hub on the relationship between morality and power.)
Politics belongs in morality but is focused on power a subset of morality. Politicians specialize on the use of power that is subdivided into naked power, priestly power, persuasive power, economic power and executive power (Russell, B. Power).
Faith belongs in priestly power. Politicians make use of this power to enhance their persuasive and economic powers. Once elected, they will add executive power to their arsenal.
A dictator uses naked power.
Faith is not immutable unlike a scientific law, or unlike a statute that can be implemented by force. Religion has its ways of enforcing its tenets, though. These ways are so subtle that the victim does not even know that s/he is harboring her/his own enemy.
There is good morals just as there is bad morals. There is power used for the good and there is power used for the bad. Justice has given way to power. In our times, someone had said that power is the important concept that governs humanity.
In the Philippines, a politician avows to belong to a religion that censures bigamy and poligamy. However this politician has at least three wives, one is sanctioned by the church, the others by common law. He has children by these wives. Two of them, by different wives, are senators. Well, the children are not guilty of their father's fault.
Not too long ago there was a candidate for the president of the USA. He is a married man. Then his photo was shown cuddling on his laps a woman who is not his wife. That forced him to withdrew from the presidential race.
A recent president of the USA was impeached by the House of Representatives for having an affair with a woman. He was acquitted by the US senate because liaison with a woman outside marriage is not an impeachable act. He is reputed to have pardoned the greatest number of convicts in the USA including a brother-in-law and another who was head of organized crime.
Recently, a tape recording of Monica's message to Pres. Bill Clinton surfaced (Internet, August. 12,2013, Digg).