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It has been argued that a separation of religion from politics could help to facilitate peace and stability in contemporary societies. Is this argument a convincing one?

Introduction

In this essay I will endeavour to demonstrate that the argument of a separation of religion from politics would help in facilitating and maintaining peace and stability in contemporary societies is a convincing one, by looking at the impact of religion on world politics, in the past and by giving examples of recent events of the political involvement of religious actors around the world having consequences therefore in contemporary societies. I will try to explain what religion is and why it represents a threat to the maintaining of international peace and security. The meaning of politics will be disused as well, during the conduct of this essay. There will be an in-depth analysis of Al Qaeda, the anti-Western Islamic militancy ideology, both from the Western perspective and the Islam perspective.

Starting with the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, religion was the main cause of conflict in the world, affecting the international peace and stability of that time. Islam and Christianity were the two main religions, both of them spreading their beliefs in all directions. Christianity spread to small territories in Africa and the Middle East, while vast areas from Africa, Asia and even Europe, like the Balkans and the Iberian Peninsular became Islamic.

Haynes (1993, 1998) pointed out that even in the twenty-first century it is difficult to find any country, and especially in the developing world where religion does not represents an influent actor in the political agenda.

There are many recent events, which show the impact of religion on world politics everywhere in the world. In Europe, for example where is considered that secular principles are long experienced, the civil war in the early 1990’s in Bosnia- Herzegovina between Croats, Serbs and Bosnians degenerated into a religious conflict. The same happened in the late 1990’s in Kosovo between Albanians and Serbs which can easily be defined as a war between Muslims and Christians. In Russia, the Orthodox Church arises from communism and became an important influence in the political world. The Islamic militancy was seen in various parts of the world, including the West, by the 9/11 events and in the developing world also, where probably the most noted rise of religion was the Islamic militancy in the Middle East, encouraged by the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1978-1979. Iraq conflicts with the West in 1991 and 2003 are more of a religious nature too. Another example from the developing world is Africa, in Nigeria which was polarized between Muslims and Christians while Somalia may lead to an Islamist government. The civil war in Sudan was due to religious grounds between Muslims and Non-Muslims. Algeria’s civil war was between the state and the Islamists, or also known as ‘Islamic fundamentalists’ where more than 120.000 people are estimated to have died.

Marty M. and Scott Appleby (1997) examined religion and politics, and came to the conclusion that ‘religion is an important source of basic values. But it can have a powerful impact upon politics within a state or region, especially when it is linked to ethnicity and culture. Religious belief often reinforces both ethnic consciousness and inter-ethnic conflict, especially in the Third World (but not only there, for example Northern Ireland and former Yugoslavia)’.

I think it is important to understand how society appreciates religion, considering the diverse regions of the world, such as the Western secular society and Islam. For the West, religion is something personal between man and God and does not have any role concerning society, being totally separated from politics. Religion is based on fear and tradition, serving the weak people who cannot understand science and development, also restraining the freedom of speech and opinion.

As for Islam on the other hand, they have a completely different view towards religion. The Quran, through the preaches of the Prophets, held that religion serves for the reformation of the individual and society. They believe that no society has absolute freedom, because this will lead to chaos and is against human nature. The Western societies, which claim democracy and freedom of speech, are not so different from any other types of rule, such as dictatorship or monarchy, because in the end they all have rules and laws. Islam agrees with the difference of opinion and speech as long as this difference does not affect and threaten its political structure.

There are many definitions of religion, and some of them tend to be too narrow and exclude many beliefs which are considered by many to be religious, or they are too vague and ambiguous. So far, based on my research , I think that the best definition of religion I have seen is Mircea Eliade’s, a Romanian historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher and professor at the University of Chicago, who defined religion as something special and autonomous, that cannot be reduced to the social, economical or psychological standard. He saw the sacred as pivotal to religion, often dealing with the supernatural not with the society or the people.

Having some awareness of the meaning of religion, I will try to explain how religion interfering with politics represents a threat to the international peace and security of the world. In order to do this, it is imperative to analyse first the meaning of politics. Politics is generally understood in terms of ruling or governing a nation, and is concerned with the political affairs of the society. Problems arise when religion interferes with politics, as in the case of Islam, based on the idea that religion cannot be separated from politics, offering as example all the prophets of Allah, who came as leaders to reform society at large.

The Islam politics or also known as ‘the politics of God’ is the language of political theology, having its roots in the past for millennia, being the only language people used to express their opinions on the political affairs of their country. This happens even today, in the contemporary society, as for example, in 2006, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran sent a letter to the former President of the United States, George W. Bush, letter that was translated and published all around the world. The subject of the letter was contemporary politics and religion, Ahmadinejad writing ‘If Prophet Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael, Joseph or Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) were with us today, how would they have judged such behaviourI have been told that Your Excellency follows the teachings of Jesus (peace be upon him) and believes in the divine promise of the rule of the righteous on Earth […] According to divine verses, we have all been called upon to worship one God and follow the teachings of divine Prophets.[…] Liberalism and Western-style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today, these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems. . . . Whether we like it or not, the world is gravitating towards faith in the Almighty and justice and the will of God will prevail over all things.’ (Lilla, 2007)

In the contemporary world there are many religious groups with different principles and practices and diverse political aims, which reflect not only the country’s beliefs and traditions, but also the political problems of that country’s system, as for example in Israel, when Hamas confronted Israel, due to the political culture conflict between Palestinians and Israeli Jews.

Haynes (1998) thought that religion will lose its influence in time, as societies would secularize and modernize but his belief proved to be wrong, when Iran’s Islamic Revolution in the late 1970’s re-emerged religion as an issue in the political affairs.

The conflict between religion and politics which threatens the international peace and security derives from the different values and conceptions about the world, or how Samuel Huntington (2002) pointed out the ‘clash of civilizations’ based on religious and political distinctions between two main rivals, Christians and Muslims. He identifies a ‘West versus militant Islam’ dichotomy where Islam represents a threat to the West peace and security. This is shown by many examples involving the West (especially North America and Western Europe) and its opponents, the Islamic militancy, such as Iran, Sudan, and Afghanistan. The events that marked the conflict between the Arab world and the Christians (the west) was the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 by Iraq and the 9/11 event, which is seen by many commentators as a dividing line in international relations.

According to Samuel Huntington and Francis Fukuyama the international peace and security of contemporary societies is threatened by the followers of Islam militancy against the Christianity, which is considered to be a religion in accordance with the liberal democracy, promoting thus global peace and security.

Before analysing the most significant religious issue in international relations in the contemporary society, namely the threat posed to global peace and security by anti-western Islamic militancy, Al Qaeda, I will mention that religion-politics clashes may not necessarily happen between civilizations, but as well within them.

Akbar (2003) stated ‘In an age of despair the need for a hero who can inspire pan-Islamic victories becomes acute…Despair can become a breeding ground for mavericks who believe in themselves and their version of the faith … Osama bin Laden is in the tradition of another famous name from the eleventh century, Hassan i Sabbah, the Old Man of the Mountains, who has given the English language the word ‘assassin’’.

After the events of 9/11 and the subsequent attacks by the United States, Akbar agrees with Huntington that this is the beginning of the ‘civilization’ conflict between the Arab world (the militant Islam) and the West. Of course, there are commentators who disagree with this statement, arguing that is inappropriate to associate the terrorist attacks with the definite idea of Islam, considering that the following bombs attacks in Istanbul, Tanzania, Kenya, and Madrid were also ordered by Al Qaeda. It is important to note that the Islamic militancy and the groups associated with it, such as Al Qaeda, Hamas in the Gaza Strip are the result of the failure of Islamic governments.

Given that 9/11 and the following attacks are believed to be committed by Islamic radicals against the West there is a clear belief among many Muslims that Islam is opposed to the West, therefore United States lost support in many parts of the Arab world. As for example, in Morocco, surveys show that public support for the United States dropped from 77 percent in 2000 to 27 percent in 2003; in Jordan, it fell from 25 percent in 2002 to 1 per cent in May 2003; in Saudi Arabia, it fell from 63 per cent in May 2000 to 11 per cent in October 2003 (The Christian Science Monitor).

Going back to the Al Qaeda ideology, Sayyid Qutb, a radical Egyptian scholar of the mid-twentieth century, declared that Western civilization is the enemy of Islam, denounced leaders of Muslim nations for not following Islam closely enough, and taught that jihad should be undertaken not just to defend Islam, but to purify it (Haynes, p. 167).

Al Qaeda’s ideology is based on the ideas that the West has dominated the territories of Islam and that the liberal democracy beliefs advocated by the West corrupted Islam, and only respecting the pure and authentic Islam taught by the Prophet will save and purify the Muslims. These aims can be achieved only by defeating the West through any means, including violence and war. Al Qaeda movement can be understood as being against the West modernisation which can interfere and affect their societies on social, political and economic level. In both developed and developing worlds , there were large number of people, and not only the poor, the uneducated but also people with high education and social status who found stability in their traditions and beliefs, placing their hopes in religious groups and movements.

Al Qaeda is more than an organization, is a religious ideology and its consequences are very dangerous to the contemporary society. Even with the exclusion of the organization from Afghanistan, Al Qaeda’s ideology becomes stronger day by day, attracting new militant Islamic terror groups created by young believers in the concept of their religion. Analysing the events of 9/11 (when the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were subjected to terrorist attacks and nearly 3000 people were killed) and the subsequent attacks, from Al Qaeda’s perspective I came to the conclusion that the Islamist radicals act the way they do because they think that there is no other choice. They feel irritated, assaulted and offended by the Western, fighting for the survival of their society, culture, religion and way of life. Al Qaeda militants argue that they acted in self –defence, their justification being that Islam is the perfect social system.

This essay has shown that the involvement of religion in contemporary societies and in the past societies as well, interfering with politics has caused serious problems in the maintaining of peace and security around the world. The resurgence of religion in the post -Cold War and the threat the militant Islamic groups, especially Al Qaeda represents, were broadly discussed and analysed during the conduct of this essay. Christianity and Islam were examined to provide a better explanation of the impact of religion in various parts of the world in recent years. The terms religion and politics were defined and analysed, a list of religious –political conflicts was provided, hence this essay demonstrates that the argument from the title of the essay of a separation of religion from politics would help to facilitate peace and stability in contemporary societies is a convincing one.

References
Akbar, A. (2003) Islam under siege: living dangerously in a post –honour world, Cambridge: Polity Press
Foreign Affairs, (1997) The Clash of Civilizations?: the Debate, W. W. Norton & Co.
Fukuyama, F. (1993) The End of History and the Last Man, Penguin
Haynes, J. (1993) Religion in Third World Politics, Buckingham: Open University Press
Haynes, J. (1998) Religion in Global Politics, 1st ed. Longman
Haynes, J. (2005) Comparative Politics in a Globalizing World, Polity Press
Huntington, S. (1993) The Third Wave: Democratization in the late twentieth century, University of Oklahoma Press
Huntington, S. (2002) The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order, London: Free Press
Lewis, B. (2002) What Went Wrong?: Western impact and Middle Eastern response, Phoenix
Lilla, M., (2007), ‘The Politics of God’, The New York Times, 19 August
Marty, M. & Appleby, S. Ed. (1997) Religion, ethnicity and self-identity: nations in turmoil, Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England
Said, E. W. (1995)Orientalism: western conceptions of the orient, Penguin Books
Springer, (2009) ‘A Critique of Foundationalist Conceptions of Comprehensive Doctrines in the Religion in Politics-Debate’ International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, vol.65, no.1, pp.11-28, Jistor [Online] Available at: http://www.jstor.org Accessed: 26 March 2011
Stowers, S. (2007) ‘The Concepts of Religion, ‘Political Religion’ and the Study of Nazism’ Journal of Contemporary History, vol.42, no.1, pp.9-24, Jistor [Online]. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/ Accessed: 26 March 2011)
White, B., Little, R. & Smith, M. Ed. (2005) Issues in World Politics, 3rd ed., Palgrave Macmillan
The Christian Science Monitor. [Online] Available at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0226/ Accessed: 27 March 2011

Categories
Free Essays

The concept of religion and how it affects health in my community of practice, London Borough of Newham, based on sociological and psychological theories.

Introduction

Locality Project

In this essay I will be examining the concept of religion and how it affects health in my community of practice, London Borough of Newham, based on sociological and psychological theories. I have chosen Newham as this is where I was located on placement and therefore have encountered a very diverse and multicultural way of life, hence the theme for this essay.

Over the last 20 years London has become more and more a diverse and multicultural society, “London, England, United Kingdom, population 7,556,900 in 2007 claims to be one of the most ethnically diverse cities on earth, with over 300 languages spoken in it.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_groups_in_London. Also I would like a better understanding to the social and cultural aspects of the patients within that area and to further my own knowledge for future references in the healthcare sector. The term religion is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion. In placement I came across many Muslim patients and therefore judged the majority of the population in Newham to be Muslims. “Newham has the fourth smallest proportion of Christians in England and Wales, 47 percent. Its second largest religious group is Muslim, with 24 per cent of the population.” http://www.newham.gov.uk/YourCouncil/CensusInformation/NewhamintheCensus-aSynopsis.htm. By using sociological and psychological perspectives I will try to analyze the affect religion has on the health of people from different religions and cultures in Newham.

Religion can create many communities by sharing the same faiths, beliefs and values; however community has numerous associations depending on how it is used and in what context. Community plays a huge role in people’s lives; it constructs a sense of belonging and identity. The Oxford English Dictionary has various definitions for community such as “a group of people living together in one place.” “The people of an area or country considered collectively; society.” “A group of people with a common religion, race, or profession: the scientific community.” “The holding of certain attitudes and interests in common.” “A group of interdependent plants or animals growing or living together or occupying a specified habitat. http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/community?view=uk.

The three I have found to be useful in relation to my essay are “a group of people living together in one place.” I feel this is the most basic definition as there could be no community without people occupying it. Also “the people of an area or country considered collectively; society” and “a group of people with a common religion, race, or profession: the scientific community.” From what I have experienced in my locality I feel these definitions are most relevant as they build an awareness of the different religious communities in Newham.

From a psychological point of view (Azarya 1985) sees community “in terms of social relationships or sentiment.” I feel in this case, community can be focussed towards the relationship a person has with their superior being in whuch their religion divulges from which is both personal and sentimental to them, therefore it contributes to the social relationships in a community.

A sociological definition of community is “traditionally a “community” has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location. The word is often used to refer to a group that is organized around common values and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community.

I have chosen to follow the sociological perspective of community to help my understanding as I feel that society has a big impact on religion; coincided with the psychology behind decisions due to religion. Although I feel that the sociological aspect of community is more identifiable in today’s multicultural society, “in sociology, the concept of community has led to significant debate, and sociologists are yet to reach agreement on a definition of the term. There were ninety-four discrete definitions of the term by the mid-1950s.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community.

I have looked at Max Weber’s theory on religion to identify and rationalise that religion could affect an individual’s heath. Weber’s theory is concerned with the way both religion and society influences each other and concentrates on the way religion configures reasons for suffering and death, (Weber, 1974). I also feel that people look to religion to make sense of difficulties that they couldn’t understand, “science can fundamentally explain how a sickness for example can occur, we cannot go to the depth of why it occurred” thus Weber saw religion as a way of people understanding the cause behind it.

Also Weber found that in a lot of religious traditions it is believed suffering if a form of punishment from a higher being. This explains how in some religions medicine and other forms of healthcare may be rejected, due to belief that handing yourself over to the will of God is the right thing to do and having faith. Jehovah’s Witness are an example of this as “they seek alternatives to blood transfusions due to their belief that a human must not sustain his or her life with another creature’s blood”. Based on Weber’s insights of religion I have come to an understanding that people with strong religious beliefs value life, and everything bad that comes with it is a punishment from God, having still maintaining faith as God has done this to them for a reason and therefore should accept them without question.

From a psychological perspective “spiritual or religious beliefs have been shown to be associated with increased psychological well-being and better health.” (Koenig and Cohen 2002). This suggests that spiritual and religious guidance aids the emotional state of a person and as London is a more diverse and multicultural society today, it is important to have an open mind and to be prepared for differences which may occur in different religious beliefs.

For many Muslims, their faith is a vital source of support, comfort and strength. “Most Muslims believe that Allah never puts a greater burden on a person than she or he has the capacity to bear, (Qur’an 2; 23).” This suggests that they strongly believe the approach that everything happens for a reason. Also “illness and death are not punishments from Allah, any more than health is a reward.” I have also looked at a website which was directed at Muslims, “from an Islamic perspective health is viewed as one of the greatest blessings that God has bestowed on mankind. It should be noted that the greatest blessing after belief is health, as narrated in the following Hadith:” and “God has entrusted us with our bodies for a predestined period of time. He will hold us to account on how we looked after and utilised our bodies and good health.” http://www.muslimhealthnetwork.org/islamandhealth.shtml.

This theory from the Muslim Health Network explains the religions view of health and that to them it is a blessing to have a good health therefore Muslims shouldn’t do things that would jeopardise their health in anyway, such as not smoking and drinking. “Islam strictly forbids indulgence in intoxicants such as alcohol and drugs for good reason. The limited pleasure of such vices causes immense long-term damage to both mind, body and the social fabric of society. Particular schools of thought include smoking within the list of prohibitions because of its harmful effects on the body.” http://www.muslimhealthnetwork.org/islamandhealth.shtml.

These are all examples of how religion and faith plays a significant part in affecting health in a positive way.

(Neuberger, 1994a) stated “nurses who work with patients who come from various religious backgrounds need to make themselves familiar with the basic beliefs of the religion concerned, in order to care for a patient and recognise their possible spiritual and cultural needs.” As London is so diverse it is important that nurses and other healthcare professionals to have some sort of conception of each religion. This view varies from that of Weber’s as Neuberger implies that it is the nurse’s responsibility to provide the appropriate care needed for the individual.

I have found some quotes which have also helped me to understand how religion can affect health in today’s society. “Today, many medical professionals and religious leaders believe it’s a blend of the scientific and the spiritual that prove to promote health and reduce disease.” http://www.goodnewsblog.com/2007/04/23/can-prayer-influence-health. Also “patients draw on prayer and other religious resources to navigate and overcome the spiritual challenges that arise in their experiences of illness.” http://www.newsmedical.net/news/2007/04/10/23336.aspx.

These quotes and overall I believe that people who have strong religious beliefs accept the saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ and therefore place their understanding and perception of life with God. This aids an individual with emotional support when science cannot find what the root of their health complications are and therefore enables them to seek help and guidance from their religion.

To gather information I used both primary and secondary recourses to help with my research, in order to attain consistent and constructive information to make my findings accurate.

I looked at a website providing local and national statistics and found that excluding Christians, the majority of Newham’s population were Muslim, therefore I felt focussing my essay towards the religion of Islam most appropriate. However nine percent of people’s religion was not stated so the accuracy of this was not extremely reliable. As this was a government website, the statistics and information held on it would be reliable and accurate. In relation to health within Newham, I found a table containing sufficient data on religion, health, ethnicity and much more.

I also did a search on Google to find some more information on the relationship between health and religion and came up with the Muslim health network site which gave me a better take on the Islamic perspective of health and wellbeing.

Using the internet was efficient as I was able to acquire all the data I required. The only disadvantage to this was that some websites such as; Wikipedia, can be edited therefore, some information or websites cannot be trusted as anyone can edit the webpage. However, websites such as directgov.co.uk and many others are copyrighted therefore, cannot be edited unless you have the authorisation to do so, due to copyright acts, which means these are reliable websites to seize facts and figures from.

Being able to borrow several books from the library was very convenient as this allowed me to widen my understanding and to correlate the sociological and psychological views in more depth with religion and health. Although looking for the right books and appropriate information was time consuming, I felt the books were more useful than the websites that I used to gather evidence. However an inconvenience of using books is that it can be outdated and therefore the relevance to practice nowadays may not apply as well.

I then went on to look at Newham’s and the BBC religion website; this showed me how religion can create communities within boroughs and how areas with members of the same faith attract people of the same religions. “Concentrated communities of Muslims are found in the boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham; Jews in Harrow, Barnet and north Hackney; and Hindus in Brent.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6978116.

In my placement area, London borough of Newham, I came across a lot of multicultural patients who had different faiths. As I lacked knowledge in their particular beliefs I chose to do my essay on religion and capture the affects religion may have on health.

Ethnicity and Religion national commentary

Ethnic Group (all people)Value

E&W avg

Eng & Wal
Rank/376

Regional
Rank/33

White51.4%

91.3%

374

31

Largest minority ethnic group(s)Bangladeshi (33.4%)
Black African (3.4%)
Black Caribbean (2.7%)

Place of birth (all people)Value

E&W avg

Eng & Wal
Rank/376

Regional
Rank/33

Born in UK65.3%

91.1%

369

26

Born elsewhere in EU (inc Rep Ireland)3.9%

2.3%

33

23

Born outside EU30.8%

6.6%

6

6

Religion (all people)Value

E&W avg

Eng & Wal
Rank/376

Regional
Rank/33

Christian38.6%

71.7%

376

33

Buddhist1.0%

0.3%

12

11

Hindu0.8%

1.1%

71

32

Jewish0.9%

0.5%

24

13

Muslim36.4%

3.0%

1

1

Sikh0.3%

0.6%

71

18

Other0.3%

0.3%

165

30

No religion14.2%

14.8%

206

23

Religion not stated7.4%

7.7%

191

27

To start my research I used the internet to see whether I can find out which religions were practised in Newham. However I came across national statistics giving percentages of the different religions we have in the United Kingdom as you can see from the table below. The table below shows ‘ethnicity and religion’ I found that apart from Christians the second highest percentage was Muslim, and this is why I decided to mainly focus on them in this essay. http://www.statistics.gov.uk.

I then went on to look at the percentages of religions in my particular place of interest; London borough of Newham. As you can see from the table below there is still a high percentage of Christians but still the next highest is Muslim being a considerable 24.3 percent.

Ethnicity and Religion national commentary

Ethnic Group (all people)Value

E&W avg

Eng & Wal
Rank/376

Regional
Rank/33

White39.4%

91.3%

376

33

Largest minority ethnic group(s)Black African (13.1%)
Indian (12.1%)
Bangladeshi (8.8%)

Place of birth (all people)Value

E&W avg

Eng & Wal
Rank/376

Regional
Rank/33

Born in UK61.8%

91.1%

373

30

Born elsewhere in EU (inc Rep Ireland)2.6%

2.3%

82

30

Born outside EU35.6%

6.6%

2

2

Religion (all people)Value

E&W avg

Eng & Wal
Rank/376

Regional
Rank/33

Christian46.8%

71.7%

373

31

Buddhist0.7%

0.3%

25

22

Hindu6.9%

1.1%

7

6

Jewish0.2%

0.5%

104

32

Muslim24.3%

3.0%

2

2

Sikh2.8%

0.6%

16

5

Other0.3%

0.3%

156

29

No religion9.0%

14.8%

360

33

Religion not stated9.0%

7.7%

24

11

I also found an article on the BBC website, where I found a section relating to how religion has caused segregation in London involving areas such as Newham and other neighbouring boroughs like Tower Hamlets.

Religion not race segregates city

London is far more segregated on religious grounds than by race, new research reveals.

The university of East London has created a map showing the city as a patchwork of religious enclaves.

It show that in some areas, minority religions make up 80% of the population.

Only 3% of London’s seven million residents live in areas classed as racially segregated, but 25% live in religiously-segregated neighbourhoods.

The study also questioned whether ministers are right – after the 2001 race riots and the 7 July bombings – to attempt to tackle segregation.

Forge links

The findings indicated living in segregated communities could actually benefit some of the minorities involved, although Muslims were more likely to be “trapped” in deprived areas and less likely to forge links with other groups living around them.

Professor Allan Brimicombe, author of the study based on census data, said: “Traditionally the amount of residential segregation in London has been looked at in terms of ethnicity.

“ Any government plan that talks about ‘parallel lives’ and a lack of integration being a bad thing is missing the point – it’s not bad for everybody ”
Professor Allan Brimicombe

“By ethnicity there is not very much residential segregation. But when you turn it around and look at religious self-identity we see there is a lot of segregation in London by minority religious groups.”

The city’s religious breakdown was then compared with information indicating deprivation, such as educational qualifications and housing types.

“We found that a level of segregation actually seems to improve the lot of people living in areas that are segregated along religious self-identity lines,” said the author.

Muslims ‘trapped’

“The Jews, Hindus and Sikhs seem to be better off in areas that are dominated by their own religion, except for the Muslim-dominated areas which get progressively worse off as they become more segregated.

“Any government plan that talks about ‘parallel lives’ and a lack of integration being a bad thing is missing the point – it’s not bad for everybody.

“But for one group, the Muslims, they seem to be trapped in a spiral where they can’t seem to move out of high deprivation areas.”

Concentrated communities of Muslims are found in the boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham; Jews in Harrow, Barnet and north Hackney; and Hindus in Brent.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6978116.stm

This article has given me a different angle on religion as it talks about how religious communities keep together in an area. I feel that this sense of segregation created by religious groups may cause conflict among those from another religion. It sort of has the view of ‘looking after your own’ and therefore forms a rift between different religious groups.

I also found a piece on the role spirituality and religion plays in healthcare, I really enjoyed reading this piece as it outlined the way and reasons people need religion and spirituality in their lives in times of illness and bad health. It helps them to support their emotional state through prayers and mediations to make sense of the reasons behind illness.

“Spirituality and religion have always been an essential component of health and well-being. In modern times, the role of spirituality and religion in medicine encompasses such practices as the use of meditation and prayer in healing, pastoral counseling, evoking forgiveness and compassion, engaging the mystery of death in end of life care, and the search for meaning in illness for patients and families as well as the health professionals who work with them. Integrative medicine acknowledges and promotes the importance of bringing spirituality into the healing process.”

http://www.bravewell.org/integrative_medicine/philosophical_foundation/spirituality_and_healthcare/

Also there has been research which has shown that having a religious faith; people do tend to have a better health status. I think this may be because religious people believe the preservation of life is vital and therefore do whatever they can to look after it and avoid things they believe would harm their bodies.

“While there are challenges in conducting quantifiable scientific research on the effects of practices as unquantifiable as prayer, recent research has begun to shed light on the role of spirituality in health. “There is already some preliminary evidence for a connection between prayer and related practices and health outcomes,” noted Catherine Stoney, PhD, an NCCAM Program Officer in the Division of Extramural Research and Training. “For example, we’ve seen some evidence that religious affiliation and religious practices are associated with health and mortality—in other words, with better health and longer life. Such connections may involve immune function, cardiovascular function, and/or other physiological changes.””

“Research on prayer and healing has a spiritual dimension, suggests Larry Dossey, MD, an expert on the role of both consciousness and prayer in health. “The primary reason to focus on the role of prayer in healing is not to prove its effectiveness,” Dossey said. “The best reason goes deeper. Prayer says something incalculably important about who we are and what our destiny may be.””

http://www.bravewell.org/integrative_medicine/philosophical_foundation/spirituality_and_healthcare/

Conclusion:

Whilst doing this assignment I have explored a range of different attitudes on health and religion, to see whether there is a link between having religious beliefs and better health. The use of sociological and psychological perspectives has helped me to aid my research of religious communities within the borough of Newham to see if religion affects health. I have mostly favoured the idea that religion does affect health and tried to find evidence to help me support this. I have realised that religion is an immense topic and has many different factors which involve health in a variety of ways. Health isn’t just about illness and disease, health consists of everyday social aspects in life for example happiness, good relationships, working etc. There needs to be a balance of everything an individual needs and craves in order to maintain a good health.

After the research I carried out, through many sources, I feel I have a better knowledge on the community of Newham’s religion and health as I was unaware of how many religious groups were based in Newham and which religions were most dominant.

It is distinctive that religion can have an overriding affect on health and my theories and findings have assisted me to display this. It has shown me the reasons for a particular religion to turn down medication for an illness and why they choose to do so. Also it has helped me to be familiar with the motivation for them to eat the way they do and do things such as fast. I tried to find statistics on the internet on different cultures and diabetes but was unable to do so, but have discovered that diabetes is common amongst Muslims, also that some of the older generations of Muslims lack knowledge and understanding of the illness, due to fasting and then eating a high sugar diet to keep them going it is more likely that a Muslim person to contract diabetes.

After a great deal of consideration and investigations I have come to the following conclusions that religion does have an effect on health and there are both negative and positive sides to it. For instance Muslims where they choose not to smoke or drink is a positive thing and Jehovah’s Witness who would refuse blood transfusions can be seen as negative if they require a blood transfusion in order to save their life. Nevertheless, people’s wishes due to their faith must be respected and valued.

As a student nurse I felt this topic has enhanced my knowledge of the diverse and multicultural society we have. After being in placement I have already gained an insight into the area, however I am aware that I will encounter people from different religions and will be in contact with them every day in my nursing career. I feel that now I have a much greater understanding of what I am to expect during my future placements. It has really helped me to understand the social and the psychological aspects of people from different religious backgrounds.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_groups_in_London

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion

http://www.newham.gov.uk/YourCouncil/CensusInformation/NewhamintheCensus-aSynopsis.htm

http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/community?view=uk

Groenman, N. H. (1992) Social and Behavioural Sciences for Nurses. Edinburgh: Campion Press

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community

Cooke, H. and Philpin, S. (2008) Sociology in Nursing and Healthcare. Edinburgh : Bailliere Tindall / Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

Henley, A. and Schott, J. (1999) Culture, Religion and Patient Care in a Multi-Ethnic Society. London: Age Concern Books

Walker, J., Payne, S., Smith, P. and Jarrett, N. (2007) Psychology for Nurses and the Caring Professions. 3rd ed. Maidenhead : Open University Press

http://www.muslimhealthnetwork.org/islamandhealth.shtml

Rana, D. and Upton, D. (1999) Psychology for Nurses. London: Pearson

http://www.goodnewsblog.com/2007/04/23/can-prayer-influence-health

http://www.newsmedical.net/news/2007/04/10/23336.aspx

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6978116.stm

http://www.statistics.gov.uk

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/profiles/00BB-A.asp#ethnic

http://www.bravewell.org/integrative_medicine/philosophical_foundation/spirituality_and_healthcare/

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Comparison of the Theories of Sigmund Freud and Emile Durkheim on Religion

Abstract

This paper examines the works of Sigmund Freud and Emile Durkheim on religion, looking at how both theorists essentially viewed religion as serving an integral role in human culture. In particular, this essay considers how both theorist consider religious believers to be mistaken in their ontological beliefs, and the rational causes for this.

Introduction

While both Sigmund Freud and Emile Durkheim are concerned with the study of human behaviour as it relates to culture, each does so from within distinct traditions. In terms of religion, Freud’s approach belongs to the psychological tradition, while Durkheim puts forward a sociological approach. In the Freudian view, human behaviour is largely driven by inborn and intangible “drives”, working in the unconscious. Such phenomena are not directly observable, that is, they are non-empirical; they must consequently be inferred, and as such are conjectural. Durkheim’s sociological method, on the other hand, utilises direct empirical observations of social phenomena (rites, rituals, customs, et cetera), looking to account for the impetus behind and purpose of group behaviour. Hence Freud is concerned with obscure, intangible internal phenomena, whereas Durkheim is concerned with overt and tangible external phenomena. Evidently, the theoretical positions in question to a degree divide between internal and external motivations.

Different Routes to the Core of a Delusion

Durkheim posits a direct connection between environmental variables, the way groups interact with such variables, and how this interaction is perceived by individual members of said group. There is a mode of cyclical reflexivity in this dynamic: this means people “living together in society generate rules which are felt by any individual member as acting on him from outside, as having a force which he feels as both uplifting and constraining” (Scharf 1970, 151). This force, Durkheim argues, is an externalisation of conventions peculiar to the group; that are perceived as exogenous but which are in fact endogenous. This tendency to externalise, Durkheim suggests, derives from the natural human desire to ascribe meaning to experience, to seek a pattern in the natural order. Thus, as Kunin states, religion likewise “is an externalisation of society and its order” and speaks to the “dialectic relationship between the individual and society” (2003, 82). Religion, then, provides for an externalised object onto which collective emotion can be projected; this is ultimately reflexive because the externalisation at root represents the people themselves. As a result, to honour religious custom is indirectly to honour the group. This is why for Durkheim religious experience serves to strengthen group cohesion and bonding.
Freud’s understanding of religion is somewhat pejorative. Connolly observes that Freud noticed “the connection between abnormal psychological conditions and religion” (1991, 146): which observation he expanded upon in his study “Obsessive acts and Religious Practices” (1907). As the paper’s title suggests, Freud drew a connection between psychological abnormality and religious practice, noting a resemblance between “what are called obsessive acts in neurotics and those religious observances by means of which the faithful give expression to their piety” (17). In turn, Freud perceived religion, like neurosis, as symptomatic of deep-seated psychological issues. In the words of Gallucci, “Freud saw religion as a collective neurotic symptom, an obsessional neurosis” (2001, 76). This “neurosis”, according to psychoanalytic theory, comes about as a defence mechanism against feelings of helplessness which obtain in a dispassionate cosmos. Hence the need for a cosmic father figure, who, as a parent comforts the child, palliates the religious subject with conciliatory notions (about purpose, meaning, boundaries, rewards, and so on). This entire dynamic apparently stems from Oedipal anxieties, where “each person grows up with a sense of foreboding toward a father figure who is both feared and loved”; this, it follows, “becomes the basis for the cosmic father figure, who offers protection and salvation but in the meantime needs to be appeased by devotion and sacrifice” (Clarke 2002, 43). In Freud’s mind, religion therefore constitutes a surrogate parent.
On the surface, Freud and Durkheim proffer two seemingly quite different explanations for religion. Importantly, while these theories are not overtly complementary, nor are they mutually exclusive. Indeed, significant parallels may be drawn between each approach. For example, both both theorists argued that religion is an important factor in community cohesion (Scharf 1970, 155); both agree that “religion is central to any cultural analysis” (Ginsburg and Pardes 2006, 220); and, thus, both hold that “that the cognitive roots of religious belief are to be found in social experience” (Spiro 1987, 202). These similarities are significant and, moreover, point to one common determinant: that the underlying basis of religious convictions are contrary to what believers suppose. For Durkheim, the real driving force behind religion is social cohesion; for Freud, the impetus is psychological assuagement. In either case, social unity and mental wellbeing obtain, only for slightly different conceptual reasons.
From the above, one might argue that Freud and Durkheim share significant overarching perspectives on religion while holding markedly different structural viewpoints on how and why religion functions. Freud is concerned with psychological structures; Durkheim with sociological structures. Freud believes religion works to console believers from the ultimate anxiety of a meaningless cosmos. Durkheim believes religion provides for a canvas on which social phenomena can be externalised and then re-accommodated as an exogenous entity. Again, both modes of behaviour essentially work to the same purpose: instilling a sense of meaning in human life. At this stage, one might consider the ways in which Freudian theory could compensate for shortfalls in the work of Durkheim and vice versa.
For instance, Durkheim offers little in the way of early psychological developmental insights, into the religious process; yet there is no reason that early anxiety (of an Oedipal nature) could not cohere with Durkheimian ideas. Indeed, such anxiety and the consequent potential for neurosis could suggest an even greater need for group cohesion: as a way of reifying the delusion through consensus, thus alleviating the anxiety. Again, this would chime with Durkheim’s understanding that religion is “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things [. . .] which unite in one single moral community called a Church” (cited in Gain 2010, 39). By the same token, Freud’s limitations could perhaps be overcome with reference to some of Durkheim’s insights. Scharf notes a “weakness of Freudian theory” in that it “does little to explain [the] variety” in articulations of paternity and fraternity within religious discourse, advising that, here, “Durkheim’s structural approach has more value” (1970, 154). Accordingly we see that a synthesis of theoretical approaches may not only be possible but highly advantageous.

Conclusion

Freud and Durkheim take very different roads to arrive at more or less the same destination. For this reason, significant and consistent core elements may be identified between their works. These include the fundamental belief that religion serves an explicable, material, social purpose which is essentially external to theological concerns; that religious believers are at base mistaken in their beliefs (insomuch as these beliefs are connected to cosmic phenomena beyond the rationally explicable); that, it follows, religion is the irrational articulation of an ultimately rational cause (anxiety or clan behaviour); that religion can function as a surrogate or projection of humanity – reformed with divine auspices; and that, finally, religion is an integral element of human culture. What is fundamentally different in these two authors is their methodological priorities. Each man comes from a very distinct tradition. Put simply, Freud and Durkheim were engaged in different disciplines; as a result, their pursuits were orientated differently
The reason Freud and Durkheim’s works are compared at all is that the realms of the sociological and of the psychological possess mutual territory: the grounds of culture. Both theorists have their limitations. Durkheim can be accused of being over reductive and simplistic. Social structure may not be enough to account for every aspect of religion. Psychological, cognitive and other inborn factors may also have a large part to play. Freud, on the other hand, may place too much onus on the unconscious drives in dictating religious experience. After all, religion is so varied and complex, it might be argued, to defy any wholesale theory to explain it away. What, for example, do we make of religions in which there is no “father figure” proper; or religions which proclaim no deity at allClearly there are unanswered questions on both sides of the aisle. Perhaps a hybrid methodology that adopted a syncretic approach to the study of religion might help answer these questions. After all, it seems to be the case that both Freud and Durkheim arrived at crucial insights into the social and psychological determinants that drive religion.

References

Clarke, P. J. (2002) Explaining Philosophy and Ethics. Cheltenham: Nelson Thomas.

Connolly, P. (1991) “Psychological Approaches”. In: Connolly, P. ed. Approaches to the Study of Religion. New York: Continuum, pp. 135-193.

Durkheim, E. (1912). The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. (J. Swain, Trans.) New York: The Free Press.

Freud, S. (1907) “Obsessive Acts and Religious Practices”. In: J Strachey (ed. and trans.) Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. London: Hogarth Press.

Gain, M., 2010. On Durkheim’s Rules of Sociological Method (Routledge Revivals). New York: Routledge.

Gallucci, G. M., 2001. Plato and Freud: Statesmen of the Soul. Philadelphia: Xlibris.

Ginsburg, R. & Pardes, L., 2006. New Perspectives on Freud’s Moses and Monotheism. Tubingen: Niemeyer.

Kunin, S. D., 2003. Religion: The Modern Theories. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Scharf, B. R., 1970. “Durkheimian and Freudian Theories of Religion: The Case of Judaism”, The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 21. 2 (June), pp. 151-163.

Spiro, M. E., 1987. Culture and Human Nature. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

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Why do we need to focus on the concept of secularism if we want to understand the role of religion in contemporary affairs?

Introduction

Globalization in the 21st century has resulted in greater diversity of peoples and religious pluralism across the globe. Alongside a global resurgence in religion, this trend has engendered new patterns of interaction and shifting perceptions in the modern political and public sphere (Thomas, 2005; Hurd, 2008). This scenario poses a direct challenge to the modern political system internationally as it upholds secular politics as the universal foundation for international relations favoured for the stability and peace it engenders. Concern regarding the potential for social conflict and violence has heightened since the events of September 11, 2001 as well as the present tensions among secularist Western nations and religious states of Turkey and Iran. These challenges give the problem of religious pluralism much of its urgency (Thomas, 2005).
Secularism refers to a movement that seeks for rejection, indifference, or exclusion of religion and religious considerations in contemporary affairs. In political terms it refers to the belief that religion should not play a role in government, education, or other parts of society in the quest towards the separation of and/or reduction of ties between religion and government (often referred to as the church and the state) (Taylor, 2010). This is deemed necessary to enable the protection of the rights of religious minorities among other positions in a pluralist society, and therefore to enhance democracy (Taylor, 2005). Given its success in Western democracies ending the sectarian violence in Europe and enabling the peaceful stable co-existence of various communities in the United States (Hurd, 2008), the concept is however viewed with disdain and suspicion in non-Western states and cultures especially those with predominant Muslim beliefs. This sentiment derives from the system’s assumption of moral high ground leading to its belittling of other cultures and alternative approaches; contempt for religion in public life; and the legitimizing of regressions of negotiations with regard to alternative approaches (Taylor, 1998).
This paper explores the need to focus on the concept of secularism in order to understand the role of religion in contemporary affairs. The endeavour of this exploration is to find a solution to challenges in the dominance of secularism in the modern public and political sphere which engenders resistance and and portends violent conflict. Secularism’s meanings, history and transformations, its dominant varieties, as well as its strengths and limitations are focused upon in following sections.

History of secularism

Secularism is a political tradition which has continued to evolve over eight centuries sharing important relationships with religious traditions such as Judeo-Christianity with which it sustains complex ties, and Islam, its primary alter-ego with which it maintains a long-standing relationship (Philpott, 2000). The ‘secular’ notion has through time taken on a range of meanings with the earliest reference, saeculum, traced to the 13th century referring to a dualistic opposition within Christianity. Often with negative connotations, this term was used to distinguish ‘worldly’ clergy from those living in seclusion in monasteries (Taylor, 2010).
The term gradually shed off its ‘Godless’ and profane connotation by the 16th century acquiring a new description of a transforming world. To secularize in the latter instance referred to the conversion from religious/priestly to civil possession or use. This process is described by Casanova (1994; 24) as the ‘passage, transfer, or relocation of persons, things, function, meanings, and so forth, from their traditional locations in the religious sphere to secular spheres.’ Onwards from the 19th century, further transformation led secularism to assume its present recognition in current language which describes a movement… ‘expressly intended to provide a certain theory of life and conduct without reference to a deity or a future life’ (Hurd, 2008). Secularists, therefore, refers to those of the belief that the church (the religious) and the worldly are in a continued historical contest, in which the world is gaining an upper hand irreversibly.
Two characteristics of secularism are revealed in its relevance to international relations and the political sphere. Secularization’s earlier reference to the ‘acquisition or possession’ of land (church properties) and people, usually by state actors, entailed massive appropriation and expropriation and often instigated religious wars (Asad, 2003). Despite secularization’s contemporary reference to the separation of the church and the state predominant in Western circles, its meaning and connotation in the above context (now overshadowed), is still retained in many non-Western contexts (Taylor, 1998). For instance, with particular regard to the Middle East, the principle of secularism has served to legitimize the suppression of local practices and political establishments. This has contributed to the hegemonic attempt to transform or to ‘take possession’ of the region in pursuit of contemporary Western ideals (Hurd, 2008).
In the second instance, an important characteristic derived is secularism’s presumption to clearly distinguish between transcendental and temporal matters. In its definition of what is considered ordinary, or mundane, it by default assigns a place for religion with the secular notion only making sense relative to its religious counterpart (Hurd, 2004). As Asad (2003; 192) argues, secularism defines itself as the foundation upon which the ‘religious’ is fashioned; the point at which dialogue on theology is hatched in the discourse of modernity. It thus assumes itself to be above the fray holding alternative approaches particularly those associated with religion in condescension and as threatening. These characteristics present distinct sets of problems: first, is its potential to jeopardize democratic politics given that groups or individuals dissenting to the secular approach are considered threatening to stability and are shut out of public deliberations. Secularists, for example, generally shun non-theistic public philosophies and are notably extremely wary of political Islam (Davie, 2003). This is the reason, for instance, politics of Turkey and Pakistan in support of a civic role for Islam and which involve non-secular and non-Western platforms and partiesare frowned upon and are worrisome to Western secularist ideals. They threaten the boundaries that secularists impose between the sacred and the secular (Banchoff, 2007). Dislike and disapproval consequent to this makes Western powers, regardless of their actual policies, to be perceived as backing the repression of Islamist parties which increases the potential for terrorism (Hurd, 2008; Bruce, 2003).
Contrary to secularism’s self-representation, it has sometimes been associated with the unjust, domineering and violent yet within the movement, there is a predilection to associate religion with these negative traits in the public sphere (Taylor, 1998; Hurd, 2008). Secularism’s automatic linkage with democracy and public order is thus questionable. An indiscriminate secularism in an increasingly interdependent, pluralist and globalized world in which individuals and groups derive morality from different sources is prone to risks. These risks include potential uprisings from adherents and supporters of alternative non-secular/non-Western approaches shut out from negotiations between religion and politics and in pursuit of public order (Banchoff, 2007; Davie, et al, 2003). Given secularism’s dominance in successful Western democracies, there is also a risk of blindness to its limitations.
The following section describes two varieties of secularism and explores their implications for international politics and affairs in the public sphere which have been shown to be significant (Hurd, 2008).

Laicism and international relations

Laicism refers to the belief in the need to exclude religion from the public realm of politics and confining it to a space where it cannot threaten the liberties of “free thinking” citizens and political stability (Taylor, 1998). This belief forms the essence of present-day political thought. Through a complex and contested process, this approach attempts to limit and to regulate ‘religious’ disputes thus provide an authoritative and self-reliant public space (Philpott, 2000). The consequent separation of the church and state was intended to serve as a basis for provide the basis for cohesive politics and efficiency in the face of diversity and religious pluralism.
Laicism relegates religion and associated beliefs to ‘things’ to be studied or an inferior culture conflicting with the ideals of modern living, politics and development (Hurd, 2008). Consequently, secularism has been described by some as having a strain of dogmatism given its propensity to validate a single authoritative basis of public ethics and reason (Taylor, 1998). The policing and constant delineation of this boundary poses challenges especially when society diversifies to contain substantial numbers of adherents of non-Judeo-Christian religions often suspicious of such endeavours (Hurd, 2008; Casanova, 1994). There are therefore calls for a more vibrant pluralist approach in the public sphere.

Judeo-Christian secularism and international relations

Through its acknowledgement of a place for religion in politics, this approach avoids the pitfalls that befall laicism. In its ‘common ground strategy,’ codes of political order and peaceful co-existence are agreed upon by members of a political community based on common doctrines (Taylor, 2010). However, these common set of values has its roots in Christianity which is a significant feature defining Western civilization (Philpott, 2000). It should be noted that many other religions around the world have complicated patterns of church-state relations as Christianity (Hurd, 2004).
The challenge for global relations in this regard, is that secularism, however defined, ends at the boundaries of Western civilization which portends a fault line between the West and non-West ‘common grounds’ (Davie, et al, 2003; Thomas, 2005; Myers and Brodeur, 2006). Such a common ground exclusively dependent upon Western religious traditions is thus ill equipped to meet the demands of contemporary societies in and outside the West. In this regard, the common ground therefore becomes a representation of one among many parties or interests
(Davie, 2003; Davie, et al, 2003; Philpott, 2000). With these limitations of the dual approaches of secularism, it is necessary in the interest of foregoing international relations and contemporary affairs to rethink the secular social reality. There might be need to approach secularism as among possible solutions to modern challenges associated with religion and public order.
The secularization paradigm has served well as a model for the accommodation of religious pluralism and diversity in the public sphere, guiding decision-making in various contexts (Banchoff, 2007; Taylor, 2005). Yet consensus on secular public order is not universally shared and is sometimes viewed unkindly, with contempt, or out rightly rejected by those dominated and/or excluded as “religious”; those who disagree with the transcendental/temporal divide; and those who feel that their politics, culture and territory has been ‘taken over’ or is challenged through secularist justifications. Also included are those who feel closed out of public debate and discourse (Haynes, 1998; Casanova, 1994; Bruce, 2003).
Secularism belittles non-Western alternatives in the negotiation of religion and politics, expressing contempt for religion in public life, particularly with regard to Islam, and legitimizes repression of negotiations of such alternative approaches. Through its insistence of neutrality and identification with rationality, freedom and the democratic, secularism engenders what is described by Honig (Hurd, 2008; Casanova, 1994) as resistances and remainders. The latter constitute those within secularism who seek to upset conventional assumptions about morality, rationality and good. Secularism strives to silence these by shifting them onto the category of the religious in clearly dangerous tendencies with potential to incite violence and counter-reactions (Hurd, 2008).
At present, secularism lays claim to the right to define the role of religion in politics and in so doing closes off important debates regarding possible alternative moral bases and public order. This, in turn, makes secularists to be perceived as seeking to privatize and to define the political domain (Banchoff, 2007; Bruce, 2003). This engenders hostile responses and criticisms against its hegemonic objectives and aspirations from among the excluded with some resorting to extreme tactics to air their grievances (Banchoff, 2007; Haynes, 1998). Such eventualities are not solely attributable to extremist religious belief as commonly perceived (Thomas, 2005), but as shown can be in response to secularism’s fervent attempts towards the universalization of secular modernity through its specific model. In both its varieties, secularism occasionally acts as a belief intolerant of other beliefs, exhibiting a tendency to restrict political space (Taylor, 1998; Myers and Brodeur, 2006).
It is widely agreed that secularism, including its clearly anti-religious variants, needs to be re-evaluated as a model for the organization of public life through the exploration of its implications for contemporary affairs. This is particularly needful with regard to states outside of historical Christendom and settler colonies upon which secularism is foisted upon (Davie, et al, 2003; Thomas, 2005; Hurd, 2008). It seems that secularism operates blindly with regard to its unforeseen implications and the consequences of its tendencies to pursue the universalization of its mores. Its zealous struggle against religious intolerance blinds it to its own inadequacies while it claims moral superiority and displaces violent and antidemocratic tendencies to the domain of ‘religion’ and religious fervour or unrestrained commitment (Taylor, 2005; Hurd, 2004). Though secularism purports to be external in the territorial contest between religion and politics, it is not as its history and nature locates it within the spectrum of theological politics (Philpott, 2000).
Religion is an ingrained marker of collective identity and entails the submersion of ultimate meaning in people’s beliefs and practices, including social and institutional practices (Banchoff, 2007). There are social and political challenges posed by emergent religious pluralism inherent in the interaction among religious groups in society and politics. A clash of religious communities in the political arena may cause core pillars of democracy to falter: minority rights and majority rule (Banchoff, 2007; Bruce, 2003). Religious tensions may undermine effective government by the majority and, as well, dominant traditions may seek to constrain minority groups. However, a multiplicity of faith traditions presents not just challenges for governance and social cohesion but also opportunities for a more vibrant political culture and civil society. For instance, rising faith communities (especially Islam) are engaging democratic processes wherever they reside in the world, and secular majorities and established religious groups are also accommodative (not just resistant) to the new dynamic cultural and political landscape (Haynes, 1998).
In foregoing discourse, this paper does not propose the reversal of secularism or the reinstatement of religion in the public sphere. In its stead, the secular ideas of democratic politics should be broadened to acknowledge positive contributions of other approaches such as the non-secular and the non-Western to pubic life and religion. There must be developed a space for continuous discourse among religious traditions, as well as among the religious and the secular so as to transcend the volatile limitations of the secularist approaches. This would also enable the incorporation of a non-hegemonic place for religion in politics addressing the conflicting legacy of secularization in public sphere in the West and outside it. If this is not addressed, those excluded may eventually haunt and destabilize the same closures that bring about their exclusion.
It is therefore imperative for the international community to consider the support of pluralistic democracy which inevitably might entail support for religious parties rather than propping up secularist political solutions. Minority voices in the new dispensation need to be heard. Remedy through the reconsideration of procedure is deemed insufficient given secularism’s prior assumption of itself as above the fray; marking its domain and associating itself with rational argument, tolerance, justice, common sense, public interest, and public authority (Davie, et al, 2003; Thomas, 2005). It thus derides religion as that which is not. Most secularists refuse to acknowledge the possible functioning of alternative non-secular and yet democratic models of order in the public sphere which could be legitimate rivals to its dominance (Banchoff, 2007; Davie, et al, 2003; Taylor, 2005).

Conclusion

Focus on the concept of secularism affords us the opportunity to observe that the current foundation of international politics is far from being neutral or universal given its religious heritages and character to which it seems oblivious. Secularism’s self-confidence in its objectivity and neutrality which then drives its hegemonic aspirations may therefore be a threat to the preservation of global peace and security. It is thus argued that for value pluralism to hold, relations in contemporary affairs including the international public sphere (international relations) must distance themselves from secularist history and especially its connotations and negative perceptions.
The secular foundation of modernity, particularly secularism’s assumptions concerning the inevitability of secularization, must be reconsidered and better relations among states and religions fostered in order to strengthen political interdependence and international freedom, as well as to forestall conflicts from conflicting values. The majorities must respect religious freedom but must also grapple with varied traditions such as Islam which incorporate different views of social obligation and personal responsibility – some which are at odds with dominant secular views. Therefore, the secular foundation must be exchanged with a post-secular project in which secularism and religion are considered on equal footing.

References

Asad, T. 2003. Formations of the Secular, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press

Banchoff, T. (ed.) 2007. Democracy and the New Religious Pluralism, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bruce, S. 2003. Politics and Religion, Cambridge: Polity

Casanova, J. 1994. Public Religions in the Modern World, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press

Davie, G. 2003. ‘The Evolution of the Sociology of Religion’ In: Michele Dillon (ed.), Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 61-84.

Davie, G., P., Heelas, and L., Woodhead (eds.) 2003, Predicting Religion: Christian, Secular and Alternative Futures. London: Ashgate.

Haynes, J. 1998. Religion and Global Politics, London & New York: Longman

Hurd, E. 2004, ‘The Political Authority of Secularism in International Relations’, In: European Journal of International Relations, Vol. 10, no. 2

Hurd, E, 2008. The politics of secularism in International Relations, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Myers, S. and P. Brodeur, (eds.) 2006, The Pluralist Paradigm: Democracy and Religion in the 21st Century.

Scranton and London: Scranton University Press
Philpott, D. 2000. “The Religious Roots of Modern International Relations.” In: World Politics 52 (January): 206-245.

Taylor, C. 1998. ‘Modes of Secularism,’ In: R. Bhargava (ed.) Secularism and its Critics. Calcutta: Oxford University Press, pp. 31-53.

Taylor, P., 2005. Freedom of religion: UN and European human rights law and practice. Cambridge: CUP
Taylor, C. 2010. “The Meaning of Secularism,” In: The Hedgehog Review, fall. http://www.iasc-culture.org/THR/archives/Fall2010/Taylor_lo.pdf

Thomas, S. 2005. Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation of International Relations, London: Basingstoke

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My American culture, but not my religion

Holding the values and beliefs of a religion other than Christianity often makes one wonder if they have broken the norms of American society. A norm, as defined by Miller (2002), is “a generally agreed upon standard of how people should behave, usually unwritten and learned unconsciously.”  While many Americans practice Christian beliefs, one of the benefits of living in a free nation happens when all religious denominations can practice their faith in peace, regardless of the majority preference.

The list of Christian denominations includes Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, Methodist, Presbyterian and many others. Being an individual who reads of, and practices, many religions both old and new in the world I do not follow Christian beliefs. I would rather define myself as a mystic or perhaps even shaman since I have inclinations towards honoring the earth, nature and spirits; this is also a common practice among Native Americans.

Salvation, or offering oneself up for saving by another being such as Jesus predominantly occurs in Christianity. However, I am at odds with this idea in my own spiritual practice. My beliefs stand in contrast because in my mind each person has the capability to save themselves, if they would only realize that inner strength. Of course, going to a Sunday service and honoring holidays such as Christmas and Easter are practices that I do not partake in either. However, I do honor the Solstices, which fall surprisingly close to many of the Christian holidays.

Being a mystic in a predominantly Christian world can make for a lonely but very peaceful existence if you allow it. While others scurry around buying gifts during the Christmas rush, I tend to my natural wares, making blankets, canned goods and handcrafted candles along with other natural gifts for those in my family who are Christian. It saddens me at winter time to hear everyone complaining about how much the Christmas gifts they have to buy will cost them; and how they need to spend a great deal of care budgeting for their gift expenses.

Everyone feels so pressured and rushed to get to the stores to find the perfect gift. While the rest of the world worries away their time, I relax on the sofa watching television and knitting another new blanket. At this point, when I am at odds with not only Christians but a capitalist nation (the dominant culture) that values material goods, I wonder if I am particularly selfish for not wanting to deal with the stress and headaches of grumpy customers standing in line at the stores.

Luckily though, I am American by birth so although my religion may differ from the majority, I still blend in rather effortlessly with society. Other groups, such as new immigrants to this country struggle with many obstacles as they adapt to their new home. They must learn a new language, find employment and maybe need to attain some education to help them gain the financial means to support their families.

This can present huge difficulties to immigrants since Americans predominantly speak English and the business world can show prejudice towards people who do not have adequate training in American based education systems. New immigrants must also learn the laws of our nation and the subliminal norms that we hold. One popular norm, for example, being that little boys wear blue and girls wear pink.

Being part of the dominant culture I do not have to worry about figuring out such subliminal norms, I learned them as I grew up in this society. Nor do I have to worry about building socioeconomic status and attaining education and training in American schools to find and adequate job. I have already had that training, and luckily a stable financial background for building my own monetary status.

Also, one of the blessings of being in the dominant culture allows me to understand how to behave in public gatherings. I know that I am not supposed to talk in class, or speak out loud during funerals. As an American I should not often show emotion either, crying in public is somewhat taboo. We tell our children to suck it up, or act like a big boy or girl when they have the urge to cry. These few examples show the norms that we learn growing up as American that other groups have to face and adapt to when living in the nation.

Getting back to the issue of religion, standing outside of the cultural norm in terms of popular faiths has its benefits. When voting, I do not have to depend upon a candidate’s religious background or goals to help me decide which person I think would make a better leader.

As I have mentioned before I also do not have to spend a great deal of money on gifts for various Christian celebrations either. When crisis strikes, such as the priest scandal ongoing in the Catholic Church, I do not have to worry that my children have been hurt by people we call on to save our souls or connect us to the Divine. One thing I do enjoy is that I can give to charity of my own choosing and am not obligated to give part of my funds to any one church.

Overall, standing outside of the cultural norms of Christianity in the American culture has benefits, some of which have been mentioned in this essay. Being an American born citizen also gives me great advantages to help me blend into the society despite my varying religious beliefs.

Other individuals such as immigrants have to struggle with things like learning a new language, discovering subliminal social norms, and attaining adequate education in the American school system that mainstream society does not have to worry about. I believe that I am very lucky to have the ability to stand both inside and outside of popular culture, because it gives me a well rounded perspective as to how both sides, the “included” and the “excluded” can feel.

References

Dubois, N. (Ed.). (2002). A Sociocognitive Approach to Social Norms. New York: Routledge.

Miller, B. D. (2004). Cultural Anthropology (2nd Ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Pettit, P. (2002). Rules, Reasons, and Norms: Selected Essays. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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Science and Religion

Science and Religion (SRP 420) Science and Religion–two disciplines that at first glance seem to be completely separate modes of thought. After more careful examination one comes to realize that they bump into each other often. Indeed, science and religion seem to have a complex history involving both conflict and resolution. Many theologians, philosophers, and scientists have developed theories on how science and religion can coexist. One such man is John Polkinghorne a scientist and philosopher; he has developed his own theory on the relationship between science and religion.

In the first chapter of his book Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity Polkinghorne lays out his theory for the coexistence of science and religion. He begins by discussing the impressiveness of science and its many accomplishments. Next he goes on to discuss the truth of religion and challenges the claim that religion is simply a personal truth or an opinion, while science is fact. He quickly claims this statement is false, because making this conclusion would be a, “fundamental mistake of the most disastrous kind” (Polkinghorne, 2).

This faulty conclusion about the integration of science and religion, according to Polkinghorne, has is often made because of two mistakes: about the basis of scientific knowledge and the other about religious belief. The general mistake that has been made about science is that it is a simple process in which a prediction is formulated, an experiment is performed, and presto a new discovery is made. In actuality there is much more involved in the art of scientific discovery. For instance, scientists often do not have pure facts, but rather they are dealing with knowledge that they must interpret for themselves.

To interpret knowledge, according to Polkinghorne, is often quite difficult and requires one to formulate a point of view or an opinion in order to reach a conclusion. Choosing a point of view or having an opinion requires people to be bold and brave because they are betting things happen in a certain way. Therefore in science fact and opinion are constantly mixed up with one another. The major mistake people make in religion is that is that it involves a kind of “leap into the dark” (Polkinghorne, 10). While religion does involve faith and faith does sometimes require a leap, it is in no way a leap into the dark.

Polkinghorne criticizes this theory by asking a variety of questions such as: what would be the purpose of religion if this were true? Why would anyone be religious if it involved such blind trust? (Polkinghorne, 2) Therefore, he concludes religion must be a leap of faith, but it is a leap into the light. The main point Polkinghorne is making here is that religion can only be of real value if it is actually true, otherwise he claims religion would simply only be a, “technique for whistling in the dark to keep our spirits up” (Polkinghorne, 14).

The conclusion reached at the end of the argument is that science and religion are “intellectual cousins,” (Polkinghorne, 11) in that they are both searching for truth, but neither can say that they have achieved it and each must base its conclusions on an interaction between interpretation, experience, and opinion. They both also must always be open to corrections if mistakes are found, because they are part of a kind of wonderful human journey to understand and be in sync with the physical and spiritual world around us.

Nevertheless, there are major differences between science and religion that cannot be overlooked, and Polikinghorne points out these differences. Essentially science is dealing with a physical world that we are able to poke and prod even if we cannot always see exactly what is happening. However, religion cannot be put to an experimental test in the same way that science can. Although science and religion are different in this way they are still both attempts to understand even if they go about in different ways. Overall, I think Polkinghorne offered a solid argument for the coexistence of science and religion.

As a science major I really appreciate the fact that Polkinghorne is an inhabitant of both the scientific and religious community. Like Polkinghorne I agree with the argument that neither science nor religion can offer an ultimate understanding of the world around us, but if they work together in harmony it is possible that they will eventually be able to achieve a greater understanding. In considering science and religion one must understand that neither can tell you everything and believing that one form of knowing can tell you everything forces a person to take a very diminished view of life.

In conclusion, Polkinghorne offers a simple and straightforward argument for how science and religion can exist together without contradiction. While the argument if fairly simple it is also effective and the main point is that science and religion are just different attempts to answer the same questions. Neither can answer these questions on their own to achieve greater understanding of the physical and spiritual world around us, both science and religion must be considered. Works Cited Polikinghorne, John. Quarks, Chaos, & Christianity. NY: Crossroads, 1994.

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The Role of Religion in Presidential Elections

The Role of Religion in Presidential Elections “The relationship between faith, reason, and fear sometimes resembles…rock, paper, scissors (45). ” This is the opening sentence in chapter two of Al Gore’s book, The Assault on Reason. In this chapter Gore talks about how fear takes over reason, reason challenges faith, and eventually faith defeats fear. This is the way that our society worked when he wrote the book, and it has not changed for the better since then, although it has not necessarily gotten substantially worse.

Today religion is still a huge player in political debate because people are guided, for the most part, by their morals and it is commonly held that morals come mainly from religious teachings. This is a complex subject because that also opens the door to the idea that atheists, agnostics, etc are not moral people because they are not religious. By that logic, only the religious should be allowed to lead our country because they are the only moral people. Do we believe that all religions are good, though? Are some better than others?

Ideally, and under our Constitution, no; all religions are equal in the eyes of our laws. However, there are stigmas attached to certain religions, and to many non-religious people there is a stigma on religion itself. So why, then, does religion play such a large role in political campaigns? It’s simple; because we view religion as having a direct correlation with morals, politicians, political parties, and interest groups can use fear to override our reason in order to sway our opinions. Historically, here in the United States, our citizens have elected white Christian men to the office of the President.

To go even further, we have elected Protestant Christians to office. It is apparent that, political parties aside, we have a preference as to what our President should be, religiously. We have only had one Roman Catholic President, John F. Kennedy; during his campaign there were fears that he would follow the wishes of the Bishop rather than the people. To some degree we still hold these beliefs. If we did not, religion wouldn’t be used as a fear tactic. The colonists who came from England were escaping religious repression, and were the inspiration for our freedom of religion.

In modern times, we seem to have lost sight of that. Four years ago, Barack Obama was running for office for the first time. Among many other controversies, i. e. whether he was actually born a U. S. citizen, was the rumor that Obama is a Muslim and not a Christian as he has time and time again identified himself to be. In the United States, where we have the freedom of religion outlined in our Constitution, people were worried that someone of a Muslim background would be able to become the most powerful man in the world.

A large part of that fear certainly stems from the attacks on September 11, 2001 but surely there is no legitimate reason to fear Muslims other than the combination of our ignorance of Muslim culture and faith, and the fear that is instilled in us not only by political parties but by non-affiliated extremist groups as well, that say all Muslims are terrorists. Barack Obama went on to win the election, which is not surprising because the public could see right through these shaky scare tactics. However, this has not stopped people from trying to use it in the current election.

In a ninety second audio clip taken from a call between a Republican volunteer and a constituent, the volunteer calls Obama a Muslim and says that he wants to take away their Medicare (Dixon, 2012). So even though this tactic has not worked in the past, it doesn’t do much to stop people from trying to spread these rumors again. Between the 2008 election and the upcoming election not much has changed, although in this year’s election the religion card will likely play a larger role in who will win the electorate.

Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and while the small outcry claiming Obama to be a Muslim was never on firm ground, there is no question of Romney’s religion. This is where we fall back to the days of Kennedy’s campaign. People are worried that Romney will place his religious views before the welfare of our nation. The accusation that people are making is that he is incapable of leading our country because he is a Mormon. Some of the big issues on his plate currently involve women’s rights.

As a Mormon, he does not believe in abortion and has made it clear that he would try to pass legislation that sets the beginning of life at conception. While there are certainly non-Mormon people who do not believe in abortion, this is being attributed to his religion. Fifty years ago, or even twenty-five to thirty years ago, this would have been a non-issue. Romney’s beliefs would have been more in line with the more conservative nature of the time period. Needless to say Mitt Romney faces an uphill battle on his quest for the White House.

Given all of this information, it would seem very apparent that religion plays a huge role in presidential elections. This is true, but not necessarily in the way that one might think. According to an article in the Huffington Post, most Americans say that it is important for the President to have strong religious beliefs, even if the beliefs differ from their own. This information seems to undermine what the media would have us believe. In addition, constituents tend not to know or be confused about the candidates’ actual religion.

Only four in ten citizens could correctly identify Mitt Romney’s religion and forty-six percent of American’s said they did not know (Neroulias, 2011). This goes back to the idea of morals; those who have religion are moral and good, while those who do not cannot be moral and therefore should not lead our country. In the end, politics have not done much to change for the better. We still fear religions that we have no need to fear, and this is largely because fear tactics are used every day by political parties as well as extremists who have the ability to make it into mainstream media.

Absolutely anyone can start a rumor that a candidate is Muslim and can’t be trusted, and that could catch like wildfire, or it could be blown off for the most part. It is also exponentially easier to take a candidates religion and a single belief, and then convince the country that he should not be President. Another thing that we see is that citizens place a large emphasis on religion itself, but there is still a large stigma on religions that are not traditional Christian. Until we become collectively more knowledgeable about other religions and debates become more informed, not much could possibly change.

References Dixon, M. (2012, September 27). Call from clay county gop:obama is a muslim who’ll take away medicare. Retrieved from http://m. jacksonville. com/news/metro/2012-09-27/story/call-clay-county-gop-obama-muslim-wholl-take-away-medicare Gore, A. (2007). The assault on reason. (p. 45). New York, NY: Penguin Group. Neroulias, N. (2011, September 24). How religious identity is influencing the presidential election. Retrieved from http://www. huffingtonpost. com/2011/07/25/presidential-candidates-religious-beliefs_n_908858. html

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Religion and Terrorism

Terrorism has long plagued the existence of peace and security in society, where secular groups have resorted to violence against non-combatant targets in order to influence the policies of a governmental or nongovernmental organisation. The concept of terrorism, whilst elusive and vague in definition has been categorised into various forms of terrorism, these being dissident, state-sponsored, and religious terrorism to name a few.

This paper will argue that the most dangerous form of terrorism is religious terrorism. To deliver an effective argument this paper has been divided into three sections; the first will argue that the most dangerous form of terrorism is religious terrorism by examining what it is, how it is dangerous, and why it is more dangerous than other forms of terrorism.

Secondly, this paper will argue that the most dangerous proponent of religious terrorism is the organisation of the Taliban, to support this claim; an analysis of the group will be given, including background information, information on the Taliban’s policies and recent activities, and the threat this groups poses on the international community. Lastly, this paper will analyse and critique the current governmental policies combating terrorism, and will then provide policy recommendations which could be implemented by governments, militaries or NGO’s.

The justification for this paper is simply that the validation of religious terrorism as the most dangerous form of terrorism will allow for effective international coordination towards combating terrorism. Various parameters of study were encountered in the process of this paper as there is much contention on which is the most dangerous form of terrorism, which gave way to biased opinions and misleading quotations regarding factual information on various organisations implementing terrorist tactics, namely the Taliban.

Although the concept of terrorism has no definition which is universally agreed upon, the notion of religious terrorism has been defined by Bruce Hoffman (1999), where religious terrorism must have three factors; “the perpetrators must use religious scripture to justify their violent acts or gains recruits; clerical figures must be involved in leadership roles; and apocalyptic images of destruction are seen by the perpetrators as necessary”.

Religious terrorism has arguably been an ongoing occurrence in contentious religious areas for centuries, where religious groups have resorted to violence against non-combatants in order to combat real or perceived threats to their own ideology (Alexander, 1994). Debate on the original terrorist aside, terrorism is quite a modern concept stemming from the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror prompted by Maxmilien Robespierre who targeted the “enemies of liberty” indiscriminately in the ideology of the “greater good” (Cooper, 2004).

Religious terrorism is thought to be caused by the misinterpretation (or fundamentalist belief) of religious scripture, however the belief in religious scripture is not the problem; it is only when these fundamentalist individuals act on their beliefs through violent means and justify their actions using religious scripture that we encounter the potential threat of terrorist tactics (Mendelsohn, 2009). Furthermore, this fundamentalist behaviour is only worsened when a threat to the religious ideology is perceived (Mendelsohn, 2009).

Religious terrorism is reasonably widespread throughout the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, predictably this may be due to the religious zeal in these regions (Alexander, 1994). A United Nations report (August, 2010) showed that 76% of all casualties (in the first six months) in Afghanistan and Pakistan were attributed to the actions of the Taliban and their associate organisations, showing the danger associated with religious terrorism.

Although religious terrorism has “become the predominant model for political violence in the modern world” (Martin, p 171, 2010) it is still not the only medium for extremist violence, as nationalism and ideology still remain strong motivators for radical violence (Martin, 2010). However, religious terrorism still remains a more dangerous form of terrorism when compared to other forms, such as state-sponsored or dissident terrorism. The factors which make this form of terrorism dangerous is the potentially apocalyptic ideology of religion, and furthermore the promise of an ethereal paradise awaiting those who follow this faith completely.

This factor seems to provide a motivation arguably more influential towards violent behaviour then other forms of terrorism. Bruce Hoffman (p 92, 1998) stated that “it is perhaps not surprising that religion should become a far more popular motivation for terrorism in the post-Cold War era as old ideologies lie discredited by the collapse of the Soviet Union and communist ideology, while the promise of munificent benefits from the liberal-democratic, capitalist state… fails to materialise in many countries throughout the world”. A stronger motivation for terrorism signifies that more violent activity, and at a higher requency, is to be expected from religious terrorism than state-sponsored or dissident terrorism. In recent times, the frequency, scale of violence, and global reach of religious terrorism has been increasing, while at the same time a decrease in secular, non-religious terrorism has been occurring (Martin, 2010). The fact that religious terrorism provides a stronger motivation is more widespread, causes more casualties than any other form of terrorism, and is increasing in frequency, scale of violence, and global reach, is reason enough to argue that religious terrorism is the most dangerous form of terrorism.

Evidence of religious terrorism may be seen in the various attacks conducted on non-combatants throughout 2011. For example, on the 13th of May 2011, two suicide bombers were responsible for 80 deaths in Shabqadar, Pakistan, the attacks were claimed by the Taliban and were labelled a response to the death of Osama bin Laden on the 3rd of May 2011 (The Guardian, 13/5/11). Another example may be seen in the terrorist attacks in Somalia on the 4th of October 2011, claiming over 70 lives and injuring many more, the Islamic militant terrorist group Al-Shabaab soon claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attacks categorised as religious terrorism predominately occur throughout the Middle-East and Southeast Asia, with the most contentious areas being Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (Mendelsohn, 2009). To examine Pakistan individually, this region has become a trouble-spot for terrorism resulting in a largely contentious area. The terrorism occurring in Pakistan is predominately religious, resulting in over 350000 Pakistani civilians killed as of 2010 (New York Review of Books, 2011).

Pakistan has a long history involving religious conflict, and although many attempts have been made by the Pakistani government to resolve these conflicts, there is no sign of the conflict coming to an end. The fact that Pakistan is not an overly wealthy nation has contributed to the effectiveness of religious terrorist recruiting, as when individuals have nothing to lose they invest in religious ideology (Mendelsohn, 2009). Although there are many religiously based terrorist organisations, the Taliban is arguably the most dangerous proponent of religious terrorism.

It is important to understand the origins, policies, methods, and other information on the organisation before effective policies can be implemented to combat the Taliban’s terrorist tactics. The Taliban is an Islamist militant organisation which has had rule of the majority of Afghanistan from September 1996, however the Taliban-formed state called the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ only gained political recognition as a state from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (Mockaitis, 2007).

However, the attacks on the USA on the 11th of September 2001 saw the Taliban overthrown during the conflict in Afghanistan. The Taliban regrouped and drafted an insurgency movement to oppose the newly formed ‘Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’, and to achieve their motives the use of guerrilla and terrorist tactics were applied (Mockaitis, 2007). Whilst in power the Taliban enforced an extremely strict interpretation of their holy scripture, becoming notorious in the international community for the poor treatment of women (Mockaitis, 2007).

This fundamental following of Holy Scripture and Islam law has seen the Taliban use Holy Scripture to justify their violent actions. Whilst not much is known about the leader of the Taliban, Mohammed Omar, a 25 million dollar reward has been issued by the US department of defence for his capture. The policies of the Taliban were initially to disarm Afghanistan, end the lawlessness and heavily enforce the Islamic or Sharia law on the entirety of Afghanistan (Mendelsohn, 2009).

The Taliban have been relatively successful in bringing law and order to around 85% of the country in their control, mainly by disarming or conscripting the tribes of Afghanistan (Mockaitis, 2007). Some of the Taliban’s relentless policies and unyielding nature on issues such as the treatment of Osama bin Laden have isolated them internationally resulting in non-recognition by the United Nations regarding their legitimacy, and the imposition of political sanctions aimed at denying the Taliban any funding or aid (Mendelsohn, 2009).

As of yet, the Taliban have failed to develop any plan or policy to revive the state of Afghanistan should they retake political control. The methods or tactics utilised by Taliban forces has predominately been a guerrilla struggle against Western forces, however the use of terrorism has brought much notoriety to the organisation itself. However the question of funding is important, how does the Taliban receive its funding? Twelve percent of Afghanistan lives off the opium trade, which constitutes 30 percent of its gross domestic product (Schmidt, 2010).

Whilst the Taliban gain finance through the sale of opium and poppy, the decrease in production of poppy would not work against the Taliban, through simple economics this organisation is able to manipulate opium prices which have seen a downward spiral over the past 5 years due to an over-supply of poppy and opium (Schmidt, 2010). Estimations show that the Taliban has stockpiled over eight thousand tonnes of opium in the event poppy production is eradicated by the US government.

However the eradication of poppy in Afghanistan would for a short term aid the Taliban as prices would increase exponentially in the face of low supplies, simple economics being exploited by the Taliban (Schmidt, 2010), (UN World Drug Report, 2009). A report given in 2006 analysing the Taliban likened the organisation to a starfish (decentralised organisation) as opposed to a spider organisation (centralised) (Brafman, Beckstrom, 2006). “The spider and the starfish both appear to have a number of legs coming out of one body, but that is where the similarity ends.

In the case of the spider, what you see is a clear “head’s head and a leg’s leg. ” However, a starfish is entirely different from a spider because the head is not even in charge of anything. In fact, a starfish does not even have a head. If a starfish is cut in half, it does not die. Instead, what you get are two starfish. The long-armed Linckia starfish can even replicate itself from just one piece of an arm. Unlike the spider, having no brain to give the affirmative on anything, the starfish functions as a decentralized network. (Schmidt, p 72, 2010). A table from this report gives a description of the comparison: (See below) The events which occurred on the 8th of August 1998 are evidence to show the danger and lethality of the Taliban and its policies. On the 24th of May 1997 the Taliban occupied the northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif and on the 8th of August 1998 were responsible for an attack which killed over 8000 people of different nationalities including Uzbekistani, and Shiite Iranian (Kelling, Saludin, Von-Feigenblatt, Alis, Shuib, 2010).

In this attack the Taliban also attacked the consulate of Iran killing 10 Iranian diplomats, which incidentally generated Iran’s opposition on the political legitimacy of the Taliban (Kelling, Saludin, Von-Feigenblatt, Alis, Shuib, 2010). The Taliban has taken responsibility for countless attacks on both combatant and non-combatant targets, with no signs of a decrease in the frequency of attacks; the Taliban is an extremely dangerous advocate of religious terrorism.

The failure of allied forces to subdue the Taliban as of yet has left Afghanistan coloured with destruction, death and poverty. An article in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences accused the US of “ignoring the hope and prospect of Afghanistan”, by being oblivious and promoting victory over the Taliban in order to justify the war on Afghanistan (Kelling, Saludin, Von-Feigenblatt, Alis, Shuib, 2010).

The US policy to use military power against the Taliban and other terror organisations has made it more difficult to find a conclusive solution to the violence in Afghanistan; additionally the weakness of the United States’ new government in Afghanistan failed to bring stability and therefore enhanced the terrorism from the Taliban (Kelling, Saludin, Von-Feigenblatt, Alis, Shuib, 2010). The question left is how we stop the terrorism?

Through government, military and NGO policy development, political, management, financial and administrative “mechanisms” arranged to reach explicit goals. This paper will therefore examine various responses to terrorism, and the policies put in place by major international actors. After September 2001, the member of the Security Council (UN) adopted a set of comprehensive measures to combat terrorism; they did so under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, thereby making all decisions compulsory for all members (Boulden, Weiss, 2004).

Two resolutions were particularly important, these being “Resolution 1368 of September 12”, which legitimised all military action against a terrorist organisation; and “Resolution 1373 of September 28 2001” which broadened the scope of international responses (Boulden, Weiss, 2004). Resolution 1373 stated that “all states should prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, as well as criminalize the willful provision or collection of funds for such acts”.

The purpose of this resolution was to minimize the financing of terrorism and to encourage member states to deny safe haven to known terrorists, assist states in need of anti-terrorism measures, and to accelerate the exchange of information regarding terrorist activity; in other words this resolution deeply encouraged international cooperation in combating terrorism. While the resolve of the Security Council (UN) is to be commended, four problems are still to be addressed.

First, although member states of the UN agree on the importance of combating terrorism, member states continue to have different views on the precise nature of these threats, and different opinions on the appropriate responses to these threats (Boulden, Weiss, 2004). The US should take responsibility and forge a consensus on the nature of the terrorist threat and what an appropriate response would be.

If the US takes consideration of other states and develops a genuine international response effort, then this should convince other states that the US is not only concerned for itself but for the international community as a whole (Boulden, Weiss, 2004). Secondly, the long term implications for the Security Council’s resolution regarding the legitimization of force against terrorist organizations are problematic. Permission to use military force without a proper criteria for reason has been seen as handing a “blank check” to the USA.

Although the US argues preemptive action and covert military action is necessary to combat terrorism, the absence of an international agreement on a definition for terrorism can lead to the possibility of abuse of this “blank check” (Boulden, Weiss, 2004). To solve this issue, the UN should engage member states in a discussion to answer the important questions, “when are terrorist acts the equivalent of armed attacks? ”, “Do imminent threats of attack always justify a military response? ” (Boulden, Weiss, 2004).

Third, the issue of finance always seems to plague attempts at combating terrorism. The implementation of the UN’s counterterrorist measures will therefore continue to be difficult unless financial assonance is given by member states. A solution to this problem would be the investment of funds into the Counter-terrorism committee (CTC), this committee would thereby invest funding into state counter terrorism agencies who lack the financial capacity to effectively fight terrorism (Boulden, Weiss, 2004).

Fourth, the war against terrorism has been labeled as the “long war”, and it is true that the effort against terrorism will take time and finance, however there must also be an effort against the root causes of terrorism; poverty, disease, social disorder, unstable governments, etc (Boulden, Weiss, 2004). The UN has a promising track record when dealing with these problems, therefore the investment into social development programs will allow for significant advancements in the effort against terrorism (Boulden, Weiss, 2004).

This paper will now offer a list of policy recommendations. In order to combat terrorism effectively, Thomas Mockaitis (2007) suggests there should be elements of four broad tasks present. 1. Anti-terrorism to protect military forces, installations and personnel and to assist member nataions in protecting their citizens and infrastructure from terrorist attack. 2. Consequence management to aide member states in mitigating the effects of an actual terrorist attack. 3. Counterterrorism to take offensive action against terrorist organizations, personnel and facilities. 4.

Military cooperation with civilian institutions, government and private, to defend against terrorism. Evidently this system of counter-terrorism has been drafted as a military doctrine labeled the NATO Concept, which provides an excellent framework for organizing an effective response against terrorism (Mockaitis, 2007). Below is a chart which illustrates the three core measures of combating terrorism. ‘Consequence management’ refers to the measures taken by local, state, and national departments to prepare for and if necessary respond to a terrorist attack (Mockaitis, 2007). Counterterrorism’ and ‘Antiterrorism’ is the offensive military enforcement of operations against terrorists (organisations, networks, and individuals), and the economic, social, and diplomatic measures to combat the root causes of terrorism (poverty, civil unrest, etc) (Mockaitis, 2007). All three tasks require effective cooperation and rely on the intelligence which lies at the centre of the three and helps organise the effort (Mockaitis, 2007). This paper has argued that the most dangerous form of terrorism is religious terrorism.

In order to deliver an effective argument, this paper was divided into three sections; first, it was argued that religious terrorism is the most dangerous form of terrorism by examining defining it, examining how it is dangerous, and discussing why it is more dangerous than other forms of terrorism. Secondly, this paper argued that the most dangerous proponent of terrorism is the organisation of the Taliban, supporting this claim was an analysis of the group, giving background information, information on the Taliban’s policies and recent activities, and the threat this organisation poses on the international community.

Lastly this paper analysed and critiqued the anti-terrorism policy of the UN, and provided policy recommendations for all member states to implement, namely the policies currently implemented by NATO forces. This paper was written in order to legitimise religious terrorism as the most dangerous form of terrorism, thereby allowing for more effective international cooperation towards combating terrorism. This paper can therefore conclude that the most dangerous form of terrorism is Religious Terrorism. References: Alexander, Y. (1994).

Middle east terrorism: Current Threats and Future Prospects. International library of Terrorism. England: Dartmouth Publishing Co. Brafman, O. , & Beckstrom, R. (2006). The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations. New York: Penguin Group Hoffman, B. (1998). Inside terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press. Kelling, M. , Saludin, M. , Von-Feigenblatt, O. F. , Alis, M. , &Shuib, M. (2010). Taliban: How it Emerged and why the U. S and Pakistan Failed? International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. Martin, G. (2010).

Understanding terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues. (3rd Ed). UK: Sage Publications Mendelsohn, B. (2009). Combating Jihadism. London: University of Chicago Press. Mockaitis, T. (2007). The “new” terrorism: Myths and Reality. USA: Greenwood Publishing Group Inc. Schmidt, F. (2010). From Islamic warriors to drug lords: The evolution of the Taliban Insurgency. Mediterranean Quarterly, 21(2), 61-1. doi: 10. 1215/10474552-2010-005 The Guardian. (May 13, 2011). Pakistan suicide bomb kills 80 as Taliban seeks revenge for Bin Laden. Retrieved November 20, 2011 from http://www. uardian. co. uk/world/2011/may/13/suicide-bombing-revenge-osama The New York Review of Books. (2011). Why they get Pakistan wrong. Retrieved from http://www. nybooks. com/articles/archives/2011/sep/29/why-they-get-pakistan-wrong/ United Nations. (August, 2010). Afghan civilian casualties rise 31 per cent in first six months of 2010. Retrieved from http://unama. unmissions. org/Default. aspx? tabid=1741&ctl=Details&mid=1882&ItemID=9955 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). (2009). World Drug Report. Received from www. unodc. org/unodc/data-and-analysis/WDR. html

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My Personal Experience with Religion

I have considered myself a religious person for most of my life.  I was saved at ten years old, but I have been in church since I was two years old.  I know that many people say that religion and Christianity are not the same, but I am one of those few people who do believe that religion is important to.  I think that you cannot have one without the other.  They are both vital to the spiritual makeup of a person.

If it had not been for my acceptance of Christ and the Holy Spirit that dwells in me, I don’t know what would have happened to me.  I definitely would not be the person that I am today.  I have always prayed about everything.  I believe that God is my spiritual father, and just like I talk with my biological father and converse with him everyday, I talk with my heavenly about everything.

I believe that it is very hard to talk freely with a stranger.  Before you open up and bare your soul to someone, there is an established relationship.  It is the same with God.  It is extremely hard to take everything to him if a person does not know him.  I cannot remember a time when I have not had a relationship with him.

It has made a huge difference in my life to be able to talk to him about everything.  I have actually had many prayers answered.  There is no way that I could remember all of them since they have happened every day of my life.  Therefore, my spiritualism has grown and changed over time.  When I was much younger, I saw God as one who had to be obeyed, but I have now grown to the point where I actually do have a relationship with him.  I used to worry so much about how I would handle everything in my life.

Now I know that it is all in God’s hands.  I have learned that I have to completely trust him, and that all of my plans and worrying is not going to help.   It sounds on paper like I have just given up, but nothing can be further from the truth.  I have actually gotten stronger, and the time I used to spend on worrying, I now spend on talking to God.

I do think that my religion has helped to strengthen my relationship with God.  It is through my religion that I have a church family of people who I can depend upon for my strength.  It is a wonderful sense of well being when I know that I have a whole host of people behind me that love and care about me because of our common beliefs through Jesus Christ.  I also believe that a religion is easier to understand when you are a part of it because you have access to others to teach you.  I have always had mentors and ministers to help me in my understanding of the faith that I have chosen.

They not only tell me what they believe about it, but they have encouraged me to seek the scriptures to find my answers, and since they are more experienced than I am, they can steer me in the right direction to find those scriptures.  The faith that I am associated with encourages its members to seek answers from the scripture.  It is not encouraged to accept something just because a person tells us that is the way that it is.  I have many friends from other faiths, and it is nearly impossible for them to overcome the stereotypes that they have heard about my religion.  I find that I have the same problem when it comes to theirs as well.

As I stated earlier, my religion encourages its members to try our beliefs with what the scriptures says.  Because of that I do think that I can remain objective.  I have learned that when I challenge something that someone of my faith says is right or wrong, I can go to the scriptures and if it is not there, I can choose to disregard the opinion.  In fact I believe that everyone has challenged at least one thing that their religion upholds.  I think that is only human and it is perfectly natural.

If one cannot be objective and at least listen to both sides of a religious topic, then the person must look closely at whether he/she is brainwashed.  Questioning and objectivity is a good thing.  One cannot grow and accept other if he/she does not remain objective.  The only thing that cannot be changed what the Bible says about an issue.

My life has been a full one and it has been steeped in religion.  I have enjoyed it immensely.  I am proud of the way that I have grown in my religion and my faith.  I would have to say that my religious experience has been a totally positive experience.

Works Cited

Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Life. 2003. Nashville: Zonderman Press.

The Sacred Ritual

There have been many sacred rituals that I have participated in during the course of my life.  The one that I enjoy the most and that has had the most impact on me is communion.  It is something that started with the night of Jesus’ arrest before his crucifixion.  I believe that the ritual is so beautiful and meaningful that I get emotional every time I take it.

When I was a little child, I could not understand why all of the adults got to eat and drink from those cute cups and I could not have it.  Therefore, I suppose I hated the ritual at first.  I especially couldn’t understand how my own mother, who share everything with her children, could eat and drink in front of us and not even give us a taste.  I remember that her attempts at explaining it to us were feeble at best, so I would get angry every communion.  I cannot help but get a little tickled even today when I hear the small children at my church when communion is served.  Most of them are questioning their parents and grandparents and I automatically go back to my youth in my mind and remember all of my frustrations.

Once I was saved and was able to take communion, I was just so glad that I was one of the big people, that I still did not realize the significance of what I was doing.  It was not until I was in my late teens that I realized what it was really all about.  At my church, a sermon on communion is always preached.  It might seem repetitive to some, but like a favorite bedtime story, or favorite movie, it is a joy to revisit the seen of the last supper.  I love the part where Jesus explains to the disciples what each part of the ritual means, and I enjoy what the Apostle Paul explains that it is not just a fellowship supper, but a meaningful link between Jesus and the Christian people.

I find it refreshing during the part where all of the Christians in the church take time to reflect on the sins in their lives.  Sometimes it is painful when they are remembered, but after I have asked forgiveness, I feel as fresh as a newborn baby.  I am ready to start over.  There is also a time to ask forgiveness of others that we might have wronged.  This is also a special time.  I love it when I am reunited with someone that I have been at odds with.

Then there is the sacred time of sharing the bread and the cup with our Lord Jesus.  The bread is the symbol of the body of Christ.  When we break it to eat it, it symbolizes what cruelties were done to his body.  I was not in Jerusalem the day of the crucifixion, but by taking part in communion I can be.  He died as much for me as he did the ones living at the time.  Therefore, when I break the bread, I am actually symbolizing that I did break his body so that he could die for my sins.  Then I drink from the cup that is supposed to represent the blood of Christ.  Without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin.  When I drink from the cup, I symbolize that his blood was spilled, and only through the spilling of the Savior’s blood could I be saved.

When I ponder these things, I get chilled just knowing what Jesus has done for me and every other person.  He did not have to, but he willingly went to the cross for us.  Communion is one of the ways that I get to be reminded of the tremendous gift that Christ gave to all mankind.
Works Cited

The Holy Bible. King James Version. New York: Thomas Nelson Press.
My Understanding

Since I have taken this class, I have had a little better understanding of evil in the world.  I say a little because I have thought about this so much that my feelings on the matter have progressed over a long period of time.

I feel that there are many reasons that God allows evil to exist in the world.  I believe that man has a great deal to do with it.  Yes, God is all powerful, but he allows us to live with the mess that we have made.  I will use the example of the horrible Hurricane Katrina.  There were many good people who lost everything that they had and many even lost their lives.  The same can be said of those who had not lived good lives.  There were babies who died, many elderly, and many in the prime of their lives.

Some might question why God would allow this to happen.  Instead they should question man.  It was man who built so many houses and cleared so many forest and wetlands that the water had no where to go.  It was man who built underneath Lake Pontchartrain, and it was man who did not do adequate upkeep on the levies.  It could be argued that man helped create the hurricane itself with his utter disregard to the environment which is leading to global warming.  It is man who has to live with the decisions he and others before him have made.  God designed the earth to be perfect.  It was man who messed things up and brought sin into the earth.  If he had stopped man, then he would have taken away personal choice.

My ability to understand what is right and wrong has changed over the years.  First I accepted what my parents told me was right and wrong.  When I became a teen, I judged what was right and wrong with what I wanted to do and think.  Now I search the scriptures.  I read the Bible as much as I can, and I have a pretty good feel for the obvious things that are right and wrong.  I will argue an opinion, but when it comes to the Word of God, I feel that if it is in the Bible, then that is the way that it is.

I pray about situations that I have a difficult time determining what is right and wrong, and God never fails to send me a sign.  Sometimes it is not the one that I wanted, but he still delivers.  I also rely on what many people call a conscious, but I feel is the Holy Spirit.  I believe if I listen to the still small voice within me, then it is usually more right than what society tells me is right and wrong.

Socrates` question: `Is something right because God commands it or does he command it because it is right?`  I feel that there are times that people think too much and this is an example.  Words are powerful and they can also have the power to confuse us.  I feel that God only commands what is right and he is omnipotent therefore he is right.  If he is the creator of all things, and I believe that he is, then he created right and wrong.  At the same time he commands things to be right because he determined it.  God is right.

Works Cited

Stearns, Bill. Fine Lines: Knowing God’s Right/Wrongs for Your Life. San Bernardino: Here’s

Life Publishers. 1987.

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Religion Makes Women Subservient to Men

Annelore Wolfelt World Religions Mr. Rocco Final Essay: “Religion Makes Women Subservient to Men” The differences between “eastern” and “western” religions are many and varied but there are some fundamental similarities within all religions. One of the common threads that run through almost every religion is that women are made to be subservient to men. The need to control and dominate women is found in both “eastern” and “western” religions. Confucianism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam all discriminate against women (to varying degrees), by placing women beneath men.

Each religion states the need for male dominance over women as a divine order that must and will be obeyed. Women are not featured much in the Bhagavad Gita except as a reference to something else. Therefore based off of classroom sacred text alone it is hard to tell what women’s status is in Hinduism. Although one may look at the lack of women in sacred scripture as an obvious sign that women mustn’t be very important if they aren’t even worth mentioning. However in the Laws of Manu, another Hindu scripture, women are briefly referred to.

It states that it is women’s nature to “seduce men in this (world); for that reason the wise are never unguarded in (the company of) females” (2:213). “For women are able to lead astray in (this) world not only a fool, but even a learned man, and (to make) him a slave of desire and anger” (2:214). Fear of being seduced by a woman and becoming powerless to her is a contributing factor to the need men have to dominate women. This fear that men have of women’s sensuality is a common thread throughout other religions and cultures. Men’s need to control women might stem from the fear that they themselves can be easily controlled by women.

In Confucianism we find the idea of equality between men, but that equality is based on a social hierarchy organized by the Five Constant Relationships: 1) sovereign to subjects, 2) father to son, 3) husband to wife, 4) older brother to younger brother and 5) friend to friend (Smith 175). This hierarchy establishes relations of dependency between men, including the duty to offer respect and obedience from those in a lesser position to those in a higher position, as well as the duty to show benevolence from those who hold a position of power over those who don’t.

The relation between the husband and wife shows the position of the woman as one dominated by the husband within the marriage. In all of the other relationships age and social standing is what decides who will hold the position of power within the relationship. But in the relationship between males and females, age and social standing don’t play the deciding factor of power in the relationship, gender does. By merely being a woman she is automatically given the role of obedience instead of one of power.

But in all fairness Confucianism does not show the systematic discrimination against women that is found in western religions. In Christianity women are blatantly made to be the weaker sex. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. ”(Colossians 3:18). “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing. (1 Timothy 2:11-15) Christians put the full blame of the Fall of Man on Eve, (and therefore all women). Because of this women are seen as easily corruptible and in need of the rule of man. Merely being born a female is seen as some sort of penalty: “if a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. ” (Leviticus 12:2) “But if she bears a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days. (Leviticus 12:5) Since its beginning Christianity has sought to dominate and discriminate women, and it continues to this day with women fighting for their reproductive rights against the Catholic Church. The West has (hypocritically) accused Islam of degrading women, chiefly because Islam permits plurality of wives. But the reality is that Islam gave more rights to women by making a stronger emphasis on the sanctity of marriage, giving girls rights to inheritance and outlawing female infanticide. But that is as far as Islam got to giving females any sort of ‘equality’.

Islam states that there is no equality between men and women: “The wives have rights corresponding to those which the husbands have, according to what is recognized to be fair, but men have a rank above them. ” (Quran 2:228) Women are still expected to be obedient to men and to serve them out of fear of punishment. “So virtuous women are obedient and guard in the husband’s absence what God would have them guard. As for those whom you apprehend infidelity, admonish them, then refuse to share their beds, and finally hit them. ” (Quran 4:34) Women are not even considered human beings but a man’s property: “Your wives are your fields.

Go, then, into your fields as you will. ” (Quran 2:223) The mere fact that women must cover themselves when they are in the presences of males so as to not tempt men (Quran 24:31) puts all of the responsibility on the woman instead of the man. I find it ironic that it is the woman’s fault for being desirable and not the man’s fault for having no self-control. As Simone de Beauvoir said in her book The Second Sex, “Man enjoys the great advantage of having a god endorse the code he writes; and since man exercises a sovereign authority over women it is especially fortunate that this authority has been vested in him by the Supreme Being.

For the Jews, Mohammedans and Christians among others, man is master by divine right; the fear of God will therefore repress any impulse towards revolt in the downtrodden female. ” When I am asked if I belong to any religion I say, “No. ” As a female I don’t want to belong to an institution that routinely discriminates, dominates, and exploits women the way these four religions do. Works Cited The Bhagavad Gita. Ed. Betty Radice. Trans. Juan Mascaro. London: Penguin Books, 1962. Print. The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

A Revision of the Challoner-Rheims Version. Edited by Catholic Scholars Under the Patronage of The Episcopal Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. New Jersey: St. Anthony Guild Press Paterson, 1941. Print. Laws of Manu. Trans. George Buhler. Sacred Texts Archive, 2011. Web. 1 June 2012. http://www. sacred-texts. com/hin/manu. htm Quran. Ed. Farida Khanam. Trans. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan. New Delhi: Goodword Books, 2009. Print Smith, H. The World’s Religions. New York: Harper One, 1991. Print.

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3. the Future of Religion and Politics in the Developing World

3. The Future of Religion and Politics in the Developing World Religion and Politics are an influential aspect of daily life and continue to affect people today in what they believe in religion and politics. Currently in the news, there is a war regarding religion and beliefs that were made into a movie and portrayed as untrue beliefs from that culture. The politics behind what is brought forth in a story written and then put on a screen has created a religious and political war. Although what was written and produced was viewed as freedom of speech, it has ultimately outraged the believers regarding their religious beliefs.

Religion is a belief in someone or something that allows a person to have prayer and beliefs in their culture for the better of their life as they see it. Religion is very much alive as part of politics (Handleman, 2011, p 58). Politics are what affects not only individuals but also countries that should abide by the laws of what are established in order to obtain peace, structure, and control with the people. When religion and politics are put together, they are essentially within the same, beliefs, structure, searching for peace, and allowing a greater being or source to be in control. Religions

There are many different types of religions and cultures all over the world. There are many different types of Gods that people have faith in and perform prayer to daily. For centuries, certain religions have stayed within the same beliefs; there are new religions throughout the world that have also not thrived, as well. The church, the laws of the church, and Christianity will continue to be alive and growth on earth every day. People should be allowed to believe in whatever God they choose, but in different countries and with their cultures, people can be brought up to believe only in what they are taught.

Catholic Religious Beliefs. There are many religions of the world, and one of the leading religions is Catholicism. The only significant religion, Catholicism, have penetrated extensively into both industrialized democracies and the developing world, is preeminent in Philippines and Latin America and also is the faith of significant portions of the population in a number of sub-Saharan African countries (Handelman, 2011, p. 60). In Africa, there are more Catholic believers and over half of the populations of all adults are baptized.

Inexorably, pastoral and intellectual energy in the church will follow population, and this means that African leaders are destined to play an increasingly prominent role in the global church (Allen, 2006). The world is developing in many areas and having the Catholic belief is becoming stronger than ever. Islamic Religious Beliefs. The Islamic culture is considered not a sacred religion, but one that is of harm and malice. If one would study the Islamic religion, it is not a new religion but one from a path of monotheism.

The monotheism too was developed into Judaism and Christianity. The ignorance about Islam and perceived targeting of Muslims in general by the U. S. -led “war on terrorism” have exacerbated a dangerous and growing divide between Muslims and non-Muslims in the contemporary world (Fisher, 2011, p. 381). The Islamic religious beliefs are straightforward to have acceptance, commitment, peace, and purity. They believe in allowing their God for guidance. Politics The balance of politics and what the government has decided for the future is becoming increasingly complex.

Politics have become more fundamental in the Third World countries in order to help with the growth and expansion of countries. In order for politics to produce appreciable works, democracy would need to function correctly by the people. Religious beliefs may change over time, but politics are most likely to stay the same. The relationship between politics and religion are to be tolerant and accept changes that occur over time. Politics and Independence. The many cultures in Third World countries seek independence and continue to seek justice from their government and leaders.

A threat to the economic well-being is the vast income inequality within developed nations, within many developing nations, and between the developed and developing worlds (Rubin, 2000, p. 421). Each country seeks independence in trade for economic and social changes in order to obtain financial growth. Third World Politics. The principles in other nations seem quite different than what is in the United States. In Third World countries, young children are able to work at an early age in support to be providers in the family.

In the United States, there are laws where children cannot work up until a certain age and need to be in a school system. Equal justice to help children with education and development in order to enhance social mobility throughout Third World countries would be beneficial to all. There are many challenges in Third World countries to obtain proper health benefits, and without assistance, it will often leads to deaths. In conclusion, the world of religion and politics are both needed and desired by many for order and to have something or someone that is of a higher being to respect.

Religion and politics will forever be linked throughout the world. Many cultures will continue to either stay within their beliefs of religion or allow changes outside ones control. Politics will continue to be the focus on what the worldviews as structure for each country to abide by their laws set forth by the governments. Although both religion and politics can evolve in war and corruption, there will always be a higher being to seek answers and follow until the end of time.

War has evolved from words that are harsh and untrue, but prayer has allowed answers to many questions in which have resolved with effective change. References Allen, John (2006, March 10). African and Catholicism. National Catholic Reporter, (19), 11, Retrieved from http://elibrary. bighchalk. com Fisher, M. P. (2011). Living Religions (8th ed. ). (2011 Custom Edition) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Handelman, H. (2011). The Challenge of Third World Development (6th ed. ). (2011 Custom Edition) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Rubin, E. Robert. “The global economy. ” Vital Speeches of the Day. 01 May. 2000: 421

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Christian Respose to Islam

Christianity and Islam are two of the most significant religions since their creation. Islam means “submission” in Arabic, and a Muslim is one who submits to the will of God (Allah). Christians are called so because of Jesus’ title Christos, which is Greek for Messiah. Christianity and Islam are similar in a lot ways, but also have quite a few differences in beliefs, practices, and basic theology. They also give separate messages to outsiders as to what their religions stand for. Both religions are monotheistic with a holy text and they both strive to conquer evil.

Islam has a set of rules (5 Pillars of Islam) set forth to reach enlightenment while Christians repent, accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and then are forgiven for their sins. A lot of people in today’s world believe that Islam and Christianity are very similar with only a few subtle differences, but this paper will discuss some of the big difference regarding the belief in on God, the view on prophets and the view on the Day of Judgment. To begin, lets compare the Islamic view on the belief in one God.

The first and greatest teaching of Islam is proclaimed by the Shahada, which states, “La llaha illa-l-lah, Muhammandun rasulu-l-lah. ” (“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the apostle of Allah”) (Robinson). After a person sincerely makes this confession than they become a real Muslim. Muslims believe that Allah is one, and has no partners, no equals. The Quran states, “And cry not unto any other god along with Allah. There is no god save Him. ” (Sura 28:88). This statement in the Quran makes a clear claim that Muslims believe that Allah is supreme, that he created and maintains the world.

In Islam it is also very clear that Allah has no son, no father, no relative and no associates. “The Muslim prophet Muhammad is reported to have written down 99 names to try and express the attributes of Allah. Some of these that Muhammad wrote down is that Allah is merciful, that he is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient) and that he is eternal (no beginning and no end)” (Robinson). The Christian response to this claim by Muslims is that there is only one righteous and transcendent creator God.

In the Old Testament Moses states, “The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. ” (Deuteronomy 6:4). This passage makes it clear that God is there is only one God who wants us to love him totally with all our being. Once again in the New Testament Jesus Christ himself states, “29 The most important one, answered Jesus, is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12: 29-30). The problem between Christians and Muslims is not the fact that there is only one God, but the view of the trinity.

Christians believe that there is God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. These three persons are complete in unity of will, purpose, action and love, yet cannot be separated even though they have different functions. The Bible speaks of God, the Father, who as the co- Creator, blesses: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1: 3), initiates and sends “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. ” (John 17: 3).

And finally God sent the Holy Spirit, who is resident within a Christian, to guide, instruct and empower them. “16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17) It is important that God as “Father” not be viewed within a biological context. Christians share with Muslims the prohibition against conceiving of God in the form of an image.

God as “Father” refers, rather, to a relationship between God and man. Christians accept all the 99 names of God, which Muslims repeat in praise to God. Even the name Allah is affirmed by Christians as one of the names of God, the same Arabic name that the Prophet Abraham used in Hebrew as “El” or “Elohim. ” Secondly, lets compare the Islamic belief about the prophets to that of the Christian belief.

Islam makes a distinction between a messenger (rasul) who is sent with a Divine Scripture to guide and reform mankind, and a prophet (al nabbi) who simply carries information or proclaims Allah’s news. Therefore, though all messengers are prophets, not all prophets are messengers. The number of Allah’s prophecy is said to be 124,000, yet the Quran mentions only 25 prophets. Some of these prophets are Adam who is the first, Abraham, Jacob, Ishmael, Isaac, David, Solomon, John the Baptist, Jesus and also Muhammad, who is said to be the final and greatest prophet.

And verily, we have raised in every nation a Messenger, saying, “Serve Allah alone and shun false gods in any form. ” Then Allah guided some of the people. And error took hold of others. Do take lessons from history as you travel in the earth, and see the consequence of the deniers. ” (Sura 16:36) According to the Sura Allah raised up these prophets, among every nation, to provide mankind with firm and constructive guidance, so that they could walk the straight path of Allah, could live happily in this world, and could be prepared for life after death.

Allah promises to protect his prophets from serious sin, bad disease and death. Muslims use this belief to deny that Jesus, who they believe was just a prophet, did not die on the cross because as stated above prophets cannot be killed. The Christian response about prophets is that God appointed prophets and others to speak to mankind about his word, and his story of redemptive acts in history. Christians believe that God revealed the interpretation of his acts to the prophets who then passed it on to man by preaching, teaching and writing it down.

Even though “Muslims and Christians have quite a few people that both agree were prophets Muslims do not believe that Isaiah, Jonah, Daniel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul and Jesus were prophets” (Robinson) Prophets within Christianity came from different classes of society, some rich, others poor, young and old; some scholars, and others with little education. Not all wrote books (Elijah, John the Baptist), but they all heard God’s word, either through angels, by means of visions, by God’s voice, or by receiving the message in their minds and hearts.

Also contrasting Islam we know that prophets were not sinless, but just normal believers whose sins were forgiven by God. The prophets most important message was that since there are none who could obey the law fully, they remained still in sin, and so deserved death. “Yet, those living with sin need not despair, because God had promised to take upon himself the guilt of their sins, by incarnating himself and dying on the cross, thus taking upon himself that penalty, and so freeing him to forgive them from those sins, which then brought them back into a personal relationship with him. (Rahim et al).

When a Christian tries to evaluate to see whether or not Muhammad was a prophet, they must try to see him in light of the total Biblical witness ending with Jesus and displaying these three criteria. One that he fully accepts the former Scriptures, two that he points to the central significance of Jesus as redeemer and three that his life and teachings exemplify suffering redemptive love. Based on these three criteria, which are shown through the life of Jesus, Muhammad is not at all a prophet.

Thirdly, lets view the Islamic view on the Day of Judgment (Death) and the Christian response to what they believe. “To begin we must first find out what a Muslim believes about sin. To a Muslim sin is a private matter, which is not binding from one generation to the next. This is so because Satan is the root of all sin and Allah being all merciful, forgives those who ask. There is only one sin that the Muslims believe is so bad that it is deemed unforgivable, that of “shirk,” which is the practice of associating anyone or anything with Allah.

Going by this logic the sin of Adam and Eve was not really their fault at all because Satan tricked them, and they asked for forgiveness. Furthermore, their sin was not hereditary/ passed down to their children. Also because the sin committed by Adam was not his fault and he repented, Allah made him earth’s first messenger. ” (Nazir-Ali 142-144) For the Muslim, salvation is attained not by faith, but by works, in observing the Five Pillars of Islamic practice, as well as avoiding the major and minor sins.

Tradition indicates that on the Judgment Day, once the person is buried, the two recording angels appear, and the dead person sits up to undergo an examination. If he says the “Shahada” (“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the apostle of Allah”), he lies down peacefully and awaits his judgment. If he refuses the “Shahada,” he is severely beaten for as long as Allah pleases. Once the individual is awakened for judgment a scale is presented, which weighs the good and bad deeds of the person taken from their “book of destiny.

Ultimately Allah makes the decision as to whether someone should be received into paradise or not. “If Allah places the individual’s book in his right hand then that person is saved and crosses a razor sharp bridge to paradise, which holds a perfumed garden of material and sensual delights, surrounded by rivers and flowing fountains, populated with black-eyed virgins, who are there to serve them with all variety of fruits” (Nazir-Ali 145). On the other hand, a vivid hell (Gahenna) awaits those who fail the test.

This hell is described in the Quran as a place consisting of boiling water, gore and fire; it is a hell of extreme physical pain” (Nazir-Ali 145). Christians view of sin/death is drastically different that of Islam. A Christian believes that any sin is an abomination to God, because it is, in essence, a rejection of His character. Christians believe, as Muslims believe, that Satan does tempt us. Yet, Christians are responsible for their own sins, and not Satan. Christians believe that they have the choice to reject Satan’s tempting.

But, The Bible insists throughout, that the wages of sin is death, and since we are all guilty, therefore, we all deserve death. God, however, in His mercy, has not left us in that guilt, but has offered payment and forgiveness for those who receive it. He has sent His Son (Jesus Christ) to die in our place, to take upon himself our guilt. Therefore, those who believe in His redeeming death on the cross, and repent of their sins, are saved from eternal separation (John 3:16-17), while those who reject Him will be eternally condemned. Before His ascension into heaven, Christ promised to return a second time to judge the world.

When He returns, He will raise all the dead to life, and will separate those who believe from those who reject, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. Those rejecting Christ will live in eternal punishment, in total isolation from God because, in rejecting God’s Son, they have rejected God the Father and God the Holy Spirit as well, and no sin is greater than this. “22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:22-23). Those who have truly believed in Christ the redeemer, will not fear Christ on Judgment Day, and will have eternal life.

This does not mean that they will go into a garden full of carnal pleasures, which, as we know in this life, separates us from God, but they will go into the presence of God Himself, to live forever with Him in love and in joy. For, as it says in The Bible, ” 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. ” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new! ” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true. ” 6

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21: 3-7). To summarize, even though Islam and Christianity both are monotheistic, both have a holy text and both strive to overcome death/evil there are big blatant differences. Hopefully the above paper achieved its’ aim in informing people of the differences regarding the belief in on God, the view on prophets and the view on the Day of Judgment. All in all those that believe that these religions are similar and basically the same thing are incorrect and should stop skipping over/ignoring the discrepancies between the religions.

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Christian Science

The basic philosophy of Christian Science is idealism. “Nothing is real and eternal; nothing is spirit- but God and his ideal; evil has no reality. ” The primary theme of The Bible is that spiritual power always triumphs over material power. As a result, illness is not real. Instead, it is simply a failure of faith and this can be documented, “scientifically,” in the lives of those who have genuine faith. Christian Science was discovered and founded by Mary Baker Eddy. “The Mother Church. ” Raised in a strict, religious home, she derived her lifelong interest in Christianity and the Bible.

Throughout her childhood and into her adult years, she was plagued with ill health. This motivated her to study alternative methods in healing, which deviated from the then current medical techniques, which had failed her. After her first husband’s death, she began to study a number of healing ministries. At the age of forty-one, she sought a cure from a healer, Phineas Quimby. Mr. Quimby was a clockmaker who developed a method of natural healing. He emphasized the role of the human mind in achieving bodily health.

Mr. Quimby felt that the key to healing lay in the confidence by the healer in the patient’s recovery, and in the confidence that the patient has in the healer’s ability. Mrs. Eddy was a student-associate of Mr. Quimby until his death in 1866. Initially, her health improved under his care, but later she suffered a relapse. Shortly afterwards, she fell on an icy sidewalk and severely injured herself. Some did not expect her to survive. On what she believed to her deathbed, she read one of Jesus’ healings and suddenly realized that healing comes not from internal bodily processes, or from the power of a person’s mind, but from the Divine Mind, God.

She was instantly cured. Mrs. Eddy withdrew from society for three years in order to concentrate on a deep search through the Bible and discover precisely how her healing had taken place. She wished to share this knowledge with others, and to give them the tools to take away sin and achieve health. Mrs. Eddy then wrote her book, Science and Health, later called Science and Health with key to the scriptures. This book explains how Christian Science heals and by just reading it, people are healed.

Many people have speculated on the source of Mrs. Eddy’s new beliefs. Some skeptics have implied that she plagiarized much of Mr. Quimby’s writings and teachings. The difference between the two was quite obvious, Mary Baker Eddy had always been deeply committed to Christianity and Mr. Quimby was highly antagonistic towards it. Mrs. Eddy determined that it was the Divine Mind, God, who healed, no the human mind. After the book was published, her teachings were welcomed and adopted by many Americans, but bitterly opposed by many traditional Christian authorities.

The church went though a period of rapid growth during the first half of the twentieth-century. Membership leveled out by 1950 and has gradually declined. They operate Christian Science Reading rooms where the public is invited to read the Bible and literature published by the church. These reading rooms are in many communities and anyone is welcome. An estimate of about 400,000 people follows Christian Science teachings. The church has about 2,300 branch congregations in 60 countries. There are about 1,600 congregations in the United States and about sixty in Canada.

Christian Science is practiced worldwide except for Northwest Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and parts of the Central, East, and Southeast Asia. Christian Scientists do not generally use medicine or go to doctors. They respect the work of the medical profession, but choose prayer as treatment for themselves and their children rather than medicine because they have experienced prayer’s effectiveness many times in their lives. The regeneration of heart and mind that brings about physical healing is the most significant element of healing.

The teachings of Christ Jesus are central to Christian Science, and his healing work provides and example of how his followers can turn to God’s omnipotent love for healing. Over the years, Christian Science religious publications have provided thousands of accounts of healing through prayer. Each week testimonies of healings are published to the Christian Science Sentinel and each month in The Christian Science Journal. Healing is accomplished not though blind faith but through a growing understanding of God and a recognition of one’s identity as God’s reflection. This can be gained through the study of Christian Science.

It is the result of drawing closer to god through coming to know the loving kindness of his divine laws and the perfection of his spiritual creation. Christian Scientists often pray for themselves and find healing. If one feels the need for additional prayerful assistance, however, he or she can call a Christian Science Practitioner. Practitioners are men and women who devote their full time to helping others through prayer. The practitioners claim no personal healing power. God alone heals. The practitioner just as the patient turns to God in humility and willingness to hear his direction and followed his guidance.

In church, Christian Scientists practice the daily stuffy of the Bible and Science and Health. There are no ordained clergy in the church. Services are conducted by readers who read from the Bible, from Science and health, and from lesson sermons sent from the mother church. Christian Scientists believe in one, infinite God who is all and all good. They believe that God is not distant or unknowable, but that God is all encompassing and always present. And that God loves each individual, cared for by him, and made in God’s image- spiritual, not material.

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Moksha and Salvation

Since the fall of man and the manifestation of sin, a wedge was placed between God and man. Man has strived to establish a reconnection with God through a variety of sources. Salvation is the source or bridge that connects man to God. Every religion has its own philosophy concerning the path of salvation. “The goal of most Indian religions is to break the cycle of karma and samsara and be free from the burden of life. This breaking of life is called Moksha” (Hopfe & Woodard, 2009, [pg. 85]). Moksha is the Hindu term used which liberates the soul from karma .

This liberation can be experienced through death or while one is yet living. In observing the Hindu concept of salvation in comparison to Christianity, there are some similarities as well as differences. It is the Hindu belief that salvation, referred to as Moksha “can be obtained through three paths: knowledge (inana), devotion (bhakti), ritual works or karma” (McDowell & Stewart, 2006). These are the three concepts that illustrate the differences and similarities in both religions of how salvation can be attained.

In observing the similarities, the first similarity is the theory that salvation can be attained through knowledge. This type of knowledge is spiritual. In Hinduism it is believed that “Humans basic problem is not wickedness but ignorance. People are ignorant about the true nature of reality and believe that they are separated from Brahman” (Hope& Woodard, 2009, [pg. 105]). In the Hindu society, it is only when Moksha is obtained that one is able to see life from a clear perspective.

According to Upanishads, “When true knowledge of the illusion of life is realized, one can be freed from the bondage of life and achieve unity with Brahman” (Hope& Woodard, 2009, [pg. 89]). In contrast, in Christianity Satan is referred to as a liar and a deceiver. It is his duty to distort the minds of God’s children and cause them to lose focus of their divine purpose on the earth. He creates the illusion that that there is no Hell and neither is there a God. Thus, many of God’s people continue to live destructive lifestyles as if they will live forever.

The second similarity that both Christianity and Hinduism share is the belief that its liberation cannot be found in earthly things. Believers of both religions are challenged to disregard earthly things and esteem heavenly things. In a world that is so full of hate, suffering, misfortune and tragedy; people are on desperately searching to fill some type of void. From a Hindu perspective, “Humans do not recognize the Brahman but instead try to cling to the objects of life-which are like mirages-they keep slipping away from our grasp” (Hopfe &Woodard, 2009, [pg. 05].

Many Christians find themselves plagued with the same problem; they begin to chase after the things of the world rather than the things of God. Concerning material things Griffiths states, “There are four ends of life, pleasure (kama), wealth (artha), duty (dharma) and liberation. The modern world recognized the first three but has lost sight of the last, yet without this goal of final liberation, of ultimate transcendence, all the other goals lead to frustration. …. (Griffiths, 1982, pg. [66]).

It is only when one comes to the realization that the world and all it has to offer is temporary, and can’t bring true fulfillment; will they then center their priorities on things eternal. Though the similarities of salvation are quite similar, when comparing both religions; there are also some major differences. One of the major differences between how both religions perceive salvation is that Hinduism teaches that salvation must be earned.

The theory “what goes around, comes around is what the religion is centered around. Through karma, or doing good things; one can either gain salvation or escape reincarnation. However, Christianity teaches that all of our works are just like filthy rags. In Christianity it is taught that salvation is given through grace. Ephesians 2: 8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and not this from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast” (NIV, 2007, Ephesians 2:8-9).

The most profound difference is that that Hinduism recognizes no single path to gaining salvation As stated previously, “Moksha can be obtained through three paths: knowledge (inana), devotion (bhakti), ritual works or karma (McDowell & Stewart, 2006). Another method of attaining freedom is through the exercise of Yoga. Through various Yoga exercises one seeks to connect with Brahman. In contrast, the path to salvation in Christianity requires one simple confession; this confession is found in Romans 10:9: “That if you confess ith your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (NIV, 2007, Romans 10:9). Jesus Christ is the way to salvation none can attain it any other way, for He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (NIV, 2007, John 14:6). In summary, the path to salvation is sought in various ways through both Hinduism and Christianity. Each individual in these religions are in search for something that they realize the world can’t offer. It is only when one understands this simple concept that the path to freedom begins.

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Material religion

Connection with the material world is inevitable for a person with all senses in tact.  Upon rising at 5:30am, one can watch the sun rise over the land, eat breakfast, listen the news, shower, and dress, put on jewelry, and maybe even find a few minutes to establish a connection with the Divine.  One great dialogue among contemporary social scientists today, is determining the place religion occupies in the material world: i.e., how does it influence the culture of a people?  Within the body of this paper, we will explore the influence of Buddhism on Chinese Culture, Christianity on American culture, and the role of the physical senses in one’s experience of the divine.

For many years, spirituality and the material world were seen as two different spheres…one is governed by the tides of commerce while the other is inhabited by mysterious supernatural beings.  In the twentieth century, the rise of the natural sciences and Communism pushed religion into the background, however with the terrorist attacks of 9/11, conservative governments in many Western countries, and movies like The Passion of the Christ, the question of religion’s place in society had once again come to the foreground.

Since the enlightenment period, sensory data was used to dispute claims of the existence of a super-natural world beyond this one.  Because one cannot hear, see, smell, or feel God, the angels, ghosts, or draw tears of blood from a statue through any normal means, many, especially in the academic community, dismissed these possibilities.  Is religion not extrasensory by its very nature, requiring the faculties of human intuition and faith?  Some might say that these human sensory deprivation entities have more spiritual advantages because they are not tempted by the physical world.  However, Clark argues that religion cannot exist without the input of the same senses used to disprove it.

Calling upon the readers to imagine living without the imagery, musical, and gustatory rituals surrounding many religious ceremonies, she says that such a spirituality would never come into being, “Close your eyes and imagine a life without mediation.  You are blind, deaf, dumb, and unable to touch or smell anything in your environment.  The majority of us would find it difficult to cope with the loss of even just one of these senses.  Now pause and consider a religious life without mediation.  Even the least overtly sacramental faiths depend on visual, oral, and material culture in everyday life”(Clark, 123-4).

Apparently, it is her argument that the religious and the material work together in a symbiotic relationship to form a coherent vision of reality for adherents.  Paintings of saints, prophets, angels, the crafting of temples and cathedrals, and symbols such as the Cross, Star of David, and swastika (in Buddhism) help to forge a material link to the spiritual realm.

When Buddhism was first introduced to China, many of its symbols were adopted into the mainstream of Chinese culture.  For example, elaborate circular paintings called mandalas, had become objects of meditation, as did swastikas.  Many important figures such as Kuan Yin were venerated as bodhisattvas, enlightened beings that returned to the world repeatedly to help liberate all other beings from the wheel of death and birth before claiming this liberation for themselves.  These Bodhisattvas were extremely popular in China before the rise of Communism.

The robes monks and nuns used to adorn themselves were immediately indicative of the Buddhist order, and the laity would support them, and visit the monastery for instruction in meditation,   “Images and relics allowed the ordinary person to experience Buddhism in a manner that was at once powerful and intimate, without the immediate intervention of learned intermediaries explaining what should be felt, what should be understood.  Sacred objects, perhaps more than any of the other types of Buddhist objects, rendered the religion tangible and proximate for any who wished it, from the most erudite of monks to the illiterate devotee”(Kieschnick, 24).

Today, Asian philosophical systems such as yoga and Zen are marketed to American consumers through fitness classes, clothes (containing Sanskrit script such as the OM symbol), and books promising to help the reader with relationship dilemmas and career moves.  Today, more Westerners are embracing Eastern philosophy because of its dissemination through the popular culture of the Internet and the bookstore scene.

Even in Christianity, a religion that traditionally eschews the trappings of materialism to embrace a life of simple service, iconographic images aids the faithful not only in making their religion more practical, but helping to connect strangers that share the same beliefs, “Religious objects function within complicated networks of beliefs, values, myths, and social structures.

Clerical elites articulate the proper use of objects based on their understanding of scripture and religious traditions.  People relate to objects as if they were sacred characters, in spite of warnings against idolatry.  Religious artifacts may also function like tools they help Christians to acknowledge common commitments, delineate differences, express affection, or socialize children”(McDannell, 57).

In the modern age, many people buy jewelry, t-shirts, and bumper stickers to share their beliefs with the world.  For example, since the 1980s, Christian Rock had gathered quite a following, and there are many radio stations in the area dedicated to playing Christian music.  To many children and young adults, attending religious institutions is a boring way to spend a Sunday (Friday, or Saturday) afternoon.  With the introduction of religion into pop-culture, people are viewing spirituality as a more socially desirable phenomenon.

Works Cited

Clark, Lynn. Religion, Media, and the Marketplace. NJ: Rutgers UP, 2007

Kieschnick, John The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture. NJ: Princeton UP, 2003

McDannell, Colleen. Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America. CT: Yale

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Bhagavatism

Related to this name is an early religion, sometimes called Bhagavatism[1] that was largely formed by the 4th century BC where Vasudeva was worshiped as the supreme Deity in a strongly monotheistic format, where the Supreme Being was perfect, eternal and full of grace.[1]

The name forms part of a famous mantra also known as a “twelve syllable mantra”, which believed to be the earliest mantra from pre-reformation times, pre-dating sectarian divisions in Vaishnavism- (IAST oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya), it is translated as “Om, reverence to the Lord Vasudeva”.[1]

Vasudeva married Devaki, the sister of Kansa, and he was also the father of Krishnas sister Subhadra. He also took a second wife, Rohini, who bore his eldest son, Balarama. According to some accounts he also had several other children by other wives.

Vasudeva and Devaki spent most of their early adult life behind bars in the deepest pits of darkness as ordered by Kamsa. Vasudeva was known for his consistent approach to life and his virtue of being a truthful person, never uttering a lie during his lifetime. After Kamsa was killed by Krishna, Vasudeva was installed as the Crown-Prince of Mathura under the reign of Devaki’s uncle, King Ugrasena.

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Marx and Weber within Religion

Marx and Durkheim jointly cover the nucleus of the sociological thought on various issues. They encompass the major issues within the sociological tradition. Religion remained their favorite sociological subject and their have speculated over the issue in the modern sociological context. Marxian reflection on the sociology of religion is very limited whereas Durkheim has contributed largely on the philosophical and sociological issues pertaining to religion.  Marx is considered as an avant-garde sociologist on the concept of religion.

Being influenced by Hegel’s philosophy, Marx considers religion is a manifestation of “material realities and economic injustice”. Therefore, he labels problems in religion are eventually ultimate social problems. Most of the Marxian thought on the sociological aspects of religion is reflected in the quite a few opening paragraphs of his “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction.” These are the same passages that include his widely quoted pronouncement on religion, that “it is the opium of the people.”

Nevertheless, this statement by Marx can not be taken as demonstration of Marxian religious view. It is often misquoted devoid of its context. Marx’s starts his essay “Contribution to a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right” with such words; “For Germany the criticism of religion is in the main complete, and criticism of religion is the premise of all criticism.” (Marx 1964B: 43) This raises the concerns why Marx has pronounced religious criticism as the essential element of all criticisms. The basic factor that compelled Marx to declare religious criticism as the basic form was the magnitude of significance that religion holds in the lives of humans.

Now the question arises why Marx has declared the criticism of religion as he basic of all criticisms. John Macmurrary considers that it was the acknowledgement of historical judgment on the part of Marx. It was an illustration of his understanding on the social function of religion. He says in this regard;

By criticism, in this phrase, we must be careful to understand what Marx understood by it, not the blank denial of religion, but the historical understanding of its necessity and function in society, which leads to its dialectical negation when its function is completed. Marx meant that the understanding of religion was the key to the understanding of social history. (Macmurrary 1935: 219)

Mckown reinforces the same understanding like Mcmurray that Marx deems religion as a useful social tool and this thinking developed as profound analysis of social history pertaining to religion. But Mckown further emphasizes that this statement has too much generalization. (Mckown, 1975. p.46)

Marx further asserts that religion is the production of social evolution and its serves society and state in several ways.  He does not eulogize religion but consider it of vital importance for layman as it enriches their lives with sense of worth. He says in this regards;

Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man—state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. (Marx, 1964)

Appraisal of religion is primary as religion creates the inverted delusions that the religion world i.e life hereafter, deities etc. is factual and that the material world is a shadow of that real life. So in his criticism of “religion”, he hit any religion that capsizes the physical world from being the primary reality. As an acquittal from his explicit attack on, Marx lessens his negative perception by evaluating the foundational purpose of religion in this way;

“Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

Marx’s religious viewpoint is not sympathetic toward religion and he does not consider it an extra-human phenomenon. But he is of the view hat religion is a product of society in order to provide solace to the distressed people. It was the mechanization of the poor to create an illusory world for themselves to create an escape from harsh realities of life. So he thinks that abolition of religion is necessary to eradicate the illusory world and create an environment for their real happiness. He says that religion is not a malady in itself but it is the indication and the remedy (simultaneously) of that malady i.e. religion is an expression and solution to a more fundamental happiness.

So Marxian assertions about religion are not negative as they are often understood and interpreted. It manifests that Marx has a “partial validation of religion” until a suitable economic system does not remove the causes that created it.

Marxian idea of religion derives its strength from his idea of “alienation”. He think hat it was “alienation” [1] that dehumanize the individuals and religious opium comes as a minimum resistance by the exploited people that provides illusory hope against the real exploitation. Another Marxian critic, Norman Birnbaum (1969), interpret this phenomenon in his way, to Marx, “religion is a spiritual response to a condition of alienation.” (p.126)

Illustrating the ultimate and real purpose of religion (contrary to the view of the commom folk), he further exaplin Marxian view; “Religion was conceived to be a powerful conservative force that served to perpetuate the domination of one social class at the expense of others.” (Ibid 127).” So this a cause and effect phenomenon as this illusory hope of common and exploited folk further distoirts the socio-economic condition and in this way self-alienation of individual oincreases with more reliance on religion.

Raines[2] sums up the Marxian sociology of religion in this way;

“Like the Hebrew prophets of old, Marx knew that to speak of social justice we must become socially self-critical, and that means becoming critical of the ruling powers—whether they be kings or priests or investment bankers…. For Marx, all ideas are relative to the social location and interests of their production. And like the prophets before him, the most revealing perspective is not from the top down or the center outward, but the…point of view of the exploited and marginalized. Suffering can see through and unveil official explanations; it can cry out and protest against the arrogance of power.” (Raines)

To Durkheim, religion was a social phenomenon that originates directly from the social needs of a society but he considers it an essential regulating force that shapes and determines the consciousness of a society. But its most important purpose is social cohesion. A close analysis of history by Durkheim[3] reflected that religion is a valid and vital force that binds the individuals and societies together.  Describing Durkheim motives o study religion on a broader level, Lewis Coser write in his monumental work “Maters of Sociological Thought”;

Durkheim’s earlier concern with social regulation was in the main focused on the more external forces of control, more particularly legal regulations that can be studied, so he argued, in the law books and without regard to individuals. Later he was led to consider forces of control that were internalized in individual consciousness. Being convinced that “society has to be present within the individual,” Durkheim, following the logic of his own theory, was led to the study of religion, one of the forces that created within individuals a sense of moral obligation to adhere to society’s demands. (Coser, 1977. p. 136)

Durkheim main concern was trace down the social origin of religion. the sociological interpretaion of religion. Fot this purpose, he tried to comprehend the basic forms of social religions. He  illustrated that Australian Toteism is the most rudimentary form of a religion. He considers that it was the basic social necessity of the social entity that compelled that group to devise a religious activity.

Further explaining the social origin of religion, Durkhein says that religion is an epitome of social cohesion. To Durkheim, society was not a mere collection of individual but is has other internal and external dimensions. Internally, it is the substantial device that moulds our beliefs and attitudes while on the external horizon, it exerts and maintains pressures from the society to facilitate conformity to the above-mentioned collective beliefs and attitudes. For these two purposes, it devised the religious activity. He thought that the absolute purpose of religion is to enable people to show a willingness put their invidual interests and personal propensities and to put interests of society ahead of their own.

So it capaciates the people to get ready for a cohesive social life. Ultimately, if individuals want to be happy, so they must regulate their individual needs and aspirations and their propensities must be confined into limits. This regulatory role must thus be executed by an external agency superior to the individual i.e. by society. Both these feature of social facts explains clearly that society is an independent entity that works for the collective benefits and dies not surrender to individual proclivities and requirements. Religion acts as social tool for this regulatory role of society. Religion internalizes that regulatory process and individuals act on that as an obligation. Durkheim consider religion as “society divinised” because religion only acts in the social domain.

Durkheim observes god of divine manifestations of it as society itself. He takes god in the functional perspective and attributes functional traits to god and further links these characteristics to social phenomenon. For example, he says that “god is first of all a being that man conceives of as superior to himself in some respects and one on whom he believes he depends. … Society also fosters in us the sense of perpetual dependence. … Society requires us to make ourselves its servants, forgetful of our own interests”. (Elementary Forms for Religious Life, p. 208-209).

Durkheim deems religion as “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them” (Elementary Forms for Religious Life, p. 47).

He makes an important distinction in religious domain that is based on the separation of human experiences i.e. profane and the Sacred. Profane is the dominion of mundane life experiences i.e. routine work, daily life activities etc. This sphere has an ultimate utilitarian approach. The sacred realm constitutes of no-mundane experiences that includes he recognition of a non-empirical authority and non-utilitarian activities.  He says in this regard;

A society whose members are united by the fact that they think in the same way in regard to the sacred world and its relations with the profane world, and by the fact that they translate these common ideas to common practices, is what is called a Church. In all history, we do not find a single religion without a Church. (Elementary Forms for Religious Life, p. 44)

So a superior fusion of profane and sacred life makes the social cohesion that is necessary to put the civilization on the path of progress and prosperity. He describes the social association as an incarnation of relation between individuals and divinity. Coser says in this regard; “Religion is eminently social: it occurs in a social context, and, more importantly, when men celebrate sacred things, they unwittingly celebrate the power of their society. This power so transcends their own existence that they have to give it sacred significance in order to visualize it. (Coser, 1977. p. 136)

Durkheim does not support Comte’s assertion that humans must endeavor to create a new “humanitarian cult” based on the rational principles. Durkheim like Marx does not suggest an abrupt ending to religion but reinforces the Marxian that it should work until an appropriate alternative does not replace this vital sociological tool. He says in this regard, “We must discover the rational substitutes for these religious notions that for a long time have served as the vehicle for the most essential moral ideas.” (Moral Education, 1961. p.9)

Coser sums up the religions ultimate function as described by Durkhein, in this way;

Finally, religion has a euphoric function in that it serves to counteract feelings of frustration and loss of faith and certitude by reestablishing the believers’ sense of well-being, their sense of the essential rightness of the moral world of which they are a part. By countering the sense of loss, which, as in the case of death, may be experienced on both the individual and the collective level, religion helps to reestablish the balance of private and public confidence. (Coser, 1976. p.139)

So Both Marx and Durkheim consider religion important social tools that give purpose and meaning to the human life.[4] Both consider the values of world religions i.e. intrinsic value and dignity of human perspective an important element but Marx views it as a toll of the oppressor to perpetuate its practices and to provide a fictitious idealism of human dignity to the common folk.  However both consider institution of religion as an imperative social necessity hitherto.

References

Bellah, Robert. “Durkheim and History.” American Sociological Review 24 (1959): 447- 61.

Chiodi, P. Sartre and Marxism. Harvester Press Ltd. 1976.

Coser, Lewis A. Masters of Sociological Thought: Ideas in Historical and Social Context,

2nd Ed., Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 1977.

Emile Durkheim, Moral Education. New York; The Free Press.1961.

Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. New York; The Free Press, 1954.

Macmurrary, John. The Early Development of Marx’s thought in Christianity and The

Social Revolution. Ed. John Lewis; Karl Polanyi; Donald K Kitchin. London,

Gollancz, 1935.

Mckown, Delos Banning. The classical Marxist critiques of religion: Marx, Engels,

Lenin, Kautsky. The Hague : Martinus Nijhoff, 1975.

Marx. Karl. Introduction to a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. 1844

Pickering, W. S. F. Durkheim’s Sociology of Religion: Themes and Theories. London: Routledge & K. Paul. 1984.

Raines, John. Marx on Religion. Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 2002.

[1] Chiodi, the famous Marxian critic, Has defined Marx concept of alienation in these words; “ It is the negative process by which a subject makes himself other than himself by virtue of a constraint which is capable of being removed on the initiative of the subject himself. “ (Chiodi, 1976. p.80)
[2] John Raines is Professor of Religion at Temple University.
[3] Most of the Durkheim’s critics regards his findings as theoretical and ahistorical contemplations but Bellah is of the view that “Almost all of [Durkheim’s] own researches draw heavily from historical and ethnological sources and are in fact organized in an historical framework” (p. 448).
[4] Durkheim considers it the ultimate function whereas Marx labels it as inverted and pretended reality.

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Bioethics: Roman Catholicism vs Buddhism

Roman Catholicism and Buddhism are two very different religions. They vary greatly on many aspects of contemporary life issues, such as the environment, personal health and violence. The following essay will contain similarities and differences between Roman Catholicism and Buddhism, focusing on the contemporary issue of Bioethics. The ideas debated will include views on abortion, in vitro fertilization, organ transplantation, euthanasia, contraception and cloning. The Collins Australian Dictionary definition of Bioethics is the study of ethical problems arising from biological research and its applications.

Roman Catholicism and Buddhism both have similar views about Abortion. The definition of Abortion reads as an operation or other procedure to terminate pregnancy before the foetus is viable. The Roman Catholic view about abortion is that it is gravely evil at all times. James 2:26 states that the body without the spirit is dead. Since from the moment of conception the human body starts to develop, it is considered to be alive and to then have spirit. This view also ties in with the fifth commandment, Thou Shalt Not Kill. In Buddhism, there is no actual rule on Abortion, but many view it as wrong.

Buddhists believe that life should not be destroyed, and believe that causing death is wrong if the death is caused purposely or through carelessness. Traditional Buddhists disapprove of abortion due to the fact that it is deliberately destroying a life. Buddhists also believe that life starts at conception. Some less traditional Buddhists believe that abortion should be permissible if the child is to be severely handicapped as to cause suffering when they are born. The Dalai Lama stated in 1993 stated that abortion, from a Buddhist viewpoint, is an act of killing and is negative, generally speaking.

But it depends on the circumstances. He then went on to mention the child being born handicapped or the birth putting the parents into serious problems, that the pregnancy should be stopped. The first of the eight precepts of Buddhism states that the Buddhist will abstain from being harmful to living beings. Hence, to have an abortion is breaking the 8 Precepts of Buddhism, just as it is violating the Ten Commandments in Christianity. Euthanasia is the act of killing someone painlessly, especially to relieve suffering from an incurable illness.

Roman Catholics and Buddhists generally have the same view on the way euthanasia is approached in everyday life. Roman Catholics mostly believe that euthanasia is wrong. They mostly base their arguments around the teachings that life is given by God, and that the natural process of death should not be interfered with. Roman Catholics are taught to believe that all life is sacred and that life should be valued no matter to which level of pleasure and well-being the person living such a life is receiving. This means that no person should be purposefully killed, even if they wish to be euthanized.

This conclusion can be supported once again with the fifth commandment, Thou Shalt Not Kill. In Buddhist tradition, there is no final answer as to whether euthanasia is morally correct or not, however most Buddhists are against involuntary euthanasia. Their views on voluntary euthanasia are less clear. Most Buddhists are against voluntary euthanasia, as it depicts that the person who is suffering is not at a peaceful state of mind and has let their physical suffering affect their mental state. A problem regarding Buddhism and euthanasia is the factor of reincarnation.

In their current form, Buddhists are unaware of what their next life will bring. This means that if Buddhists were to permit euthanasia, it would be practically wrong because it would be shortening ones suffering in this life to be born into a life that could possibly be even worse. Another reason why euthanasia is an issue is because the way that a Buddhist ends one life greatly affects the way they are to start the next. Buddhists are meant to reach a state where their thoughts are free of anger hatred or fear, and should be selfless and enlightened.

Voluntary euthanasia is only permitted for those who have reached such a state, and should be avoided by anybody who has not yet reached a sense of enlightenment. The practice of euthanasia is also breaking the first of the 8 precepts of Buddhism, which is abstaining from being harmful to living beings. Consequently, euthanasia is a similarity between Roman Catholicism and Buddhism, because, though at varying degrees of severity, both religions generally disagree with euthanizing a human being. Contraception is another bioethical field in which Roman Catholicism and Buddhism share common grounds.

Contraception refers to the intentional prevention of conception by artificial or natural methods. Roman Catholics and Buddhists both accept and reject the use of certain types of contraceptives and the ways that they prevent conception. In the Roman Catholic Church, all uses of contraception other than family planning are looked upon sourly. (Note that the Roman Catholic Church teaches its followers that sexual intercourse should only be present between man and woman who are married to each other to begin with, and so the following views on contraceptives should be viewed in the position of man and wife.

The Roman Catholic Church believes that intercourse is an act that was created for couples to procreate, and so any method which prevents such chances is considered to be immoral. If couples wish to engage in intercourse and not conceive a child, they are to do so naturally, in the period that a woman is infertile, that is, the time when a woman isn’t ovulating. As said in Genesis 1:28, man was specially made by God to be fruitful and multiply. This basically says that man was engineered by God to procreate; hence forth contraceptives are directly doing the opposite of what man was created to do.

Though, the Roman Catholic Church does not directly condemn contraceptives in themselves, but the use of them to prevent conception. For example, if a woman who is not in a sexual relationship is to use the pill to regulate her cycle it is not wrong in one bit. Buddhism permits the use of contraceptives if that particular method prevents contraception, however it is not acceptable is that certain type of contraception works by stopping the development of a fertilized egg. Buddhists believe that life begins, or a form of consciousness is created as soon as an egg is fertilized.

As the Buddhist religion believes that no living being should be harmed, many types of contraceptives are unacceptable, such as the IUD. However, using contraceptives is not against the religion. Although the Buddhist teachings do not condemn intercourse with no desire for conception, the Third Precept teaches that Buddhists will abstain from all sexual practices that are inconvenient. This says that Buddhists seeking enlightenment should not use contraceptives for one’s sexual pleasure.

Unlike Roman Catholicism, the Buddhist religion does not regard having children as a religious duty, but the two religions meet in their views on how certain types of contraceptives are acceptable and others are not, with the Roman Catholic views being more strict rather than the more lenient Buddhist views. Though Roman Catholicism and Buddhism can have very similar views on different aspects of Bioethics, the two religions also have very differing viewpoints on other aspects on the issue.

One area of Bioethics in which Roman Catholicism and Buddhism do not meet on is the idea of Organ Donation. Organ donation is the act of giving up one’s organs to help others in need of such organs to live. Roman Catholicism encourages organ donation, and it is seen as an act of charity, fraternal love and self-sacrifice. Roman Catholics believe that it is a Christian duty to help others, and so organ donation is praised as it is giving other a chance of life that they may have otherwise not of been given.

Pope John Paul 11 spoke of organ donation and stated that there is an everyday heroism, made up of gestures of sharing… A particularly praiseworthy example of such gestures is the donation of organs… offering a chance of health and even of life itself to the sick that sometimes have no other hope. The Current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, is a registered organ and tissue donor. The Buddhist faith teaches that organ donation is neither right nor wrong, and it is more of a personal decision rather than a Church teaching whether to donate organs or not.

In some instances, organ donation is seen as an act of charity. Many Buddhists, Tibetan Buddhists in particular, have concerns about organ donation due to their beliefs of when consciousness leaves the body. Because donation from a deceased body has to occur immediately after the person dies. Tibetan Buddhists worry that the human body will be tampered with before the consciousness leaves the body. This is a worry to them because they believe that if the body is touched before consciousness leaves, it could potentially cause harm to the deceased’s future lives.

As it can be seen from the above two examples, the Roman Catholic and Buddhists religions have differing views on organ donation, as Roman Catholicism is all for the issue and certain fields of Buddhism have a few more concerns about the matter. Cloning is an area of bioethics in which Roman Catholicism and Buddhist views differ greatly. A clone is a segment of DNA that has been isolated and replicated by laboratory manipulation. Cloning has achieved great scientific feat in previous years, with the successful cloning of dolly the sheep in 1996.

There are no teachings in Roman Catholicism that directly state negative views on cloning as it has only been a matter in the past few decades, but there are principles in scripture that reveal opinions on such matters. In an excerpt from Genesis 1:26-27, it is revealed that God said, ‘and now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us’… So God created human beings, making them to be like himself” It is taught that all human beings are created in the image of God and are therefore unique, hence cloning contradicts this theory as it is indeed, creating an exact duplicate of another human being.

Also, Roman Catholicism teaches their followers that life is sacred and it should not be treated as an inanimate and worthless object, due to the fact that cloning causes scientists to experiment with human cells and embryos as if they have to spiritual value. Pope John Paul II stated in a speech to Vatican-based diplomats that one’s right to life is the most fundamental of human rights. Abortion, euthanasia, [and] human cloning . . . risk reducing the human person to a mere object. Buddhist belief with the matter is significantly on the other end of the scale.

Buddhists do not have such a concept of individuality between each other, so Buddhist scholars don’t necessarily feel that there is any relevance in the way a child is born, rather than Roman Catholicism. The religion of Buddhism teaches that the earth is a place of suffering in which sickness, old age and death are unavoidable. Buddhism also teaches that to be healed from such a place is to reach a state of enlightenment. Some Buddhists believe that reproductive cloning can even help people reach such a state due to the fact that one can possible select certain attributes, such as selectively breeding people with advanced moral qualities.

Professor Yong Moon from Seoul National University stated that Cloning is a different way of thinking about the recycling of life. It’s a Buddhist way of thinking. As the above examples show, Roman Catholicism and Buddhism have greatly differing views on the concept of cloning. Since it was first used in 1978, In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, has caused significant amounts of controversy between many of the world’s religions and cultures. IVF is a technique enabling some women who are unable to conceive to bear children, in which egg cells removed from a woman’s ovary are fertilized by sperm in vitro.

Some of these eggs are then incubated until the blastocyst stage, which are then implanted into the woman’s uterus. The Roman Catholic church condemns IVF births as children are meant to be conceived though natural means, that is, sexual intercourse between man and wife. It is also due to the fact that children are meant to be created through man, woman and God, rather than man, woman and doctor. Another reason why Roman Catholicism disagrees with IVF is because of the way that the sperm from the male is produced – masturbation. Such acts are looked on dishonourably by the Roman Catholic faith.

An excerpt from CCC2352 states that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action. The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose. Roman Catholics also believe that a life is created the moment a child is conceived, and that every blastocyst deserves the right to life. IVF contradicts this as for most IVF procedures, the woman will produce many eggs, and only a select few will be implanted into her uterus, leaving many to be either washed down a sink or kept for medical research.

The Roman Catholic Church does not agree with stem cell research on embryos for the reason that these embryos will inevitably die. There is little information on Buddhist belief and IVF, but it is known that Buddhism presents greatly opposing beliefs on IVF. They believe that every human has been closely connected with another and one time or another, due to the belief of previous lives. Also, Buddhists believe that any person involved in the creation of a child has a karmic connection. A karmic connection is a sense that one feels instantly comfortable and familiar with another, as in the relationship between mother and child.

In a “regular” pregnancy, this connection is felt between the mother, father and child. However, in a pregnancy which was a result of IVF, the connection is evident between the mother, father, child and doctor, as they all played a role in the creation of the life. To sum up, Roman Catholicism and Buddhism have greatly differing views on whether or not IVF should or should not be used when trying to conceive a child. In conclusion, Roman Catholicism and Buddhism share common grounds on many Bioethical issues, yet their views and beliefs can also differ greatly.

Buddhism tends to accept bioethical issues that do not affect the life and death process of the human person, such as contraception, cloning and IVF. The Roman Catholic Church disagrees with forms of Bioethics that prevent, end or create life in an unnatural manner, such as euthanasia, abortion and cloning. The Roman Catholic Church has more set in rules and restrictions, rather than Buddhism in which many bioethical issues are left to the individual person to decide whether they are right choice to make or not.

References

http://www.jfinternational.com/psy/karmic-connections.html

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2352.htm

http://www.gotquestions.org/birth-control.html

http://www.gotquestions.org/cloning-Christian.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/buddhistethics/organdonation.shtml

http://www.bioethics.org.au/Resources/Resource%20Topics/Cloning.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/buddhistethics/contraception.shtml

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/christianethics/contraception_1.shtml

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/buddhistethics/euthanasiasuicide.shtml

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/christianethics/euthanasia_1.shtml

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Sociological Approach to the Study of Religion

Outline and assess one of the main approaches to the study of religions. Religion and ‘The Study of Religions’ has many approaches which try to investigate the core of what religion is and what it means to the people who practice it. Sociology is one such approach that this essay will be looking at through its founding fathers Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Karl Marx. Sociology in general looks at people’s dynamics and explains a group’s influence. It demonstrates how religious belief and practices have become so important over time and emphasises their role and significance throughout.

Each of these three sociologists has a link to these ideas which will be the main thesis in this essay. Emile Durkheim looks at religion from a functionalist perspective in the sense that he assumes that religion has a positive role in society, as it acts as an important socialisation process for all members. The theory is largely based on the Arunta tribe in Australia, where he discovered objects worshipped which he calls ‘totems. ’ These totems according to him were an important factor in the society; seeing that the objects became a symbol of the group’s identity and unity.

These objects he claims are “collective representation” (Fish, Jonathan S. 2005: 30) as they have reinforced the importance of integration into the community via the worshipped objects. The worshipped object have an emotional significance to them as the “totems serve as evocative device for reminding individuals of their initial feelings long after the assemblies” (Fish, Jonathan S. 2005:51) therefore evidently it becomes more about the idea and symbolism of the object rather than the object itself that unites all.

Thus making the idea of rituals of greater significance as it generally binds people together which for Durkheim is always a positive thing. On the other hand, Durkheim does not offer a real explanation on why some deviate from such society’s e. g. Islamic fundamentalists such as the Taliban. Perhaps his theory generally works on a tribal base rather than bigger societies, where conflicts and divides are more common; in a smaller community less people are likely to go against the status quo. Moreover, to say that religion only plays a positive role is absurd.

How can one explain the atrocities that occur on the name of religion for instance? For this reason I find Durkheim’s theory limiting as it does not look at all aspects of religion or religious life but merely draws a quick conclusion to it. Also according to this perspective religion instils the same norms and values for everyone, making it a regulatory function in society. Religion for Marx then becomes a form of social control which provides guidelines through religious texts e. g. 10 commandments. These norms which are shared gives people the opportunity to unite to what may be seen as morally incorrect or sinful.

This can be vital in a society as it can allow social stability. Durkheim argument is plausible as there has been a significant rise in New Religious Movements. This evidently shows that people still require religion in their life. Moreover, the recent increase on religious fundamentalists can be a point that strengthens Durkheim argument as it can be evidence for people being threatened by a weakening society. Karl Marx similar to Durkheim starts with the assumption that religion is in fact a product of society.

Importantly, however, he disagrees with Durkheim as he does not see religion as beneficial for the whole of society but argues it benefits only the ruling class or what he calls the ‘bourgeoisie’. Religion, according to Marx only transmits bourgeoisie ideologies to convince the working class or ‘proletariats’ that inequality is natural and fair phenomena in the world. Making religion as a whole a “collective smoke-screen” (Connolly, P. 1999:100) as it distorts reality which gives explanation for inequality as being of religious significance i. e. sin.

For Marx this is the core idea behind religion making it a tool for oppression and a form of social control. Religion is claimed to be the “opium of the people” (Hamilton, Malcolm B 2001:81), making it a drug which is used by people as an illusion to hide or cover up the real causes of suffering, which for Marx is primarily capitalism. Capitalism covers up religion and manages to help the bourgeoisie greatly, as it becomes a “comforting illusion” (Hamilton, Malcolm B 2001:80) as the proletariats do not question the status quo due to their belief in getting a greater reward in the afterlife.

Religion itself is used to justify hierarchy in the world, a verse in a hymn such as the following are used, “the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, god made them. Highly or lowly, and ordered their state”. This stresses Marx’s point that as it’s believed to be sanctioned by God it is unlikely to be challenged by anyone. The Marxists perspective generally makes many valid arguments which society can relate to even today. The idea of caste system is still relevant in many Hindu traditions (although generally frowned upon).

Buddhism has the idea of karma meaning if you are a poor person in this life then it’s to do with your own bad karma in the previous life. Therefore Marxism is correct in this aspect, that religion is used in order to justify inequality. Another key piece of evidence for the Marxists perspective is the fact that the Catholic Church is arguably allowing the spread of aids due to its stance against contraception. As a result of this, there is a continuation of social deprivation especially in Africa which further illustrates that religion is generally used to keep social inequality.

Marxism disagrees that religion can bring about social change, this, however can be disputed. This is mainly due to the fact religious leaders have challenged the status quo in order to bring about change in their societies. Two main examples being Father Camillo Torres Restrepo and Martin Luther King whose works brought about a vast amount of change to Colombia and America respectively. Evidently this contrasts to the Marxists view as it shows that religion can in fact bring about social change and consequently allow for equality.

Personally, I feel that the Marxists view limits human nature as it assumes they will simply follow rather than stand up to injustice. More importantly sociology in general claims to work in an objective and scientific way but I cannot see how it is possible with Marxists ideas such as on the religion being a drug and comforting as these ideas are impossible to measure. Max Weber is regarded as a social action theorist due to his claim that religion can shape and define society.

He argues that religion can indeed bring about social change; he bases his argument on a Christian group named the Calvinists whom according to him brought about a form of western capitalism. This form of “ascetic Protestantism” (Johnstone, Ronald L. 2004:196) allows for the growth of capitalism because of their belief on disciplined hard work which to them emphasised the Glory of God. This “spirit of capitalism” (Furseth, Inger and Pal Repstad 2006:36) did not allow for the accumulation of wealth but actually encouraged reinvestment back into the society according to Weber.

The so called Protestant ethics approach leads him to believe that this led to social change as society turned to mass producing mechanised industries. Another way the Calvinist were able to bring about social change, was thorough the apprehension people had. Calvinists believed in predestination which led to the belief that having a good business or being successful could have indicated that you were one of God’s chosen people. This gives the perception that people were competing over heaven and failure was not an option for people.

However, Weber does not limit the growth of capitalism to the Calvinist alone as he is aware of other factors. Weber’s argument must be treated with a degree of caution. Evidence suggests that Protestant nations were not always capitalistic and vice versa. Also many believe that Catholic countries were already flourishing before the breakaway from Catholicism occurred. The study of Religions deal with many wide and opposing issues some of which have been covered in this essay through the works of Durkheim, Marx and Weber.

Although, each sociologist does give a good account of explaining the dynamics within a religious group but with each case a very simplistic and generalised view was given by the sociologist about religion. It is plausible to argue that religion brings people together through rituals but is it not a natural thing for people to unite whilst doing something together? In this view then perhaps anything can be said to have religious significance as long as it brings people together.

Additionally, the idea of a greater reward in the afterlife is not the only justification given about inequality. In the greater sense inequality within religion can be about anything from the roles of men and women to dress code. Therefore once again this idea has been limited to it being about capitalism. Religion is said to be able to bring about social change which arguably is a factor but for it to be the only thing is for me far fetched. It is an inherent thing for people to fight when they are being wronged. It is about something within rather than it being about religion.

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Secularization

Historically, “secularization” first referred to the process of transferring property from religious jurisdiction to that of the state or other no religious authority. In this organizational sense, “secularization” still means the decline of formal religious authority for example; in education, prisons, and hotel room bedside tables. Institutional secularization has been fueled by the breakdown of a unified Christendom since the Reformation, on the one hand, and by the increasing validation of society and culture from the Enlightenment to modern scientific society, on the other.

Some political analysts prefer the term “laicization” to describe this institutional secularization of society, that is, the replacement of official religious control by no religious authority. [1][2] It is clear that these two forces represent opposite tendencies of thought. To insist upon the principles of traditional Christianity is to rob modern views of its very life; it opposes pessimism to the optimism of modern thought. And yet reconciliation between the two is not absolutely impossible. It can take place, however, only as the result of a modification of the current view of Christianity.

A new conception of religion must make itself felt, and this change can be readily effected. It must center on the person of Jesus and must abandon its dogmatic system. In the person and in the preaching of Christ, as an historical phenomenon, we have the basis for an understanding between Christianity and the culture of our day. Jesus himself never accepted the total corruption of man as the basis of his preaching. Rather it was an ideal of moral perfection that he held up to his believers–of life in God and activity according to his will. 2]

Secularism has also influenced Western art since the Classical period, while most art of the last 200 years has been produced without suggestion to religion and often with no particular ideology at all. On the other hand, Western art has often been influenced by politics of one kind or another, of the state, of the benefactor and of the artist. While institutional and ideological secularization have been preceded at the same time over the past few centuries, the relationship between the two is not exact or necessary.

Even in a medieval, Constantinian setting, formally religious in character, men and women were not untouched from having their life, thought, and work shaped by secular influences. In an institutionally secular (laicized) society it is possible for individuals and groups to live, think, and work in ways that are motivated and guided by God and religion. [1] With a great deal of emphasis on contemporary discussions of Christianity and secularism the confrontational Letters and Papers from Prison penned by writer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, because the work is incomplete leaves much to the imagination and not enough fact.

Bonhoeffer’s notions start heavy debates on the meaning and implications starting with titles like: “Christian worldliness,” “man-come-of-age,” the world’s arrival at “adulthood,” and the need for a “non-religious interpretation of Biblical terminology. ” Other writers Friedrich Gogarten (The Reality of Faith, 1959), Paul van Buren (The Secular Meaning of the Gospel, 1963), Harvey Cox (The Secular City, 1965), Ronald Gregor Smith (Secular Christianity, 1966), and the “death-of-God”: all leave little to the imagination just as Bonhoeffer’s does.

These are examples of those who have shadowed one possible course. Kenneth Hamilton (Life in One’s Stride, 1968) denies that this is the best way to interpret Bonhoeffer and argues that these writers hesitated in his indispensable, orthodox attitude. [2] Of course, the differences between the sacred and the secular is an undeniable gap; In the same way that God speaks and acts Christians must speak and act inventively and full of redemption for there actions.

In all cases, Christian life in the secular world is to be carried out under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and in compliance to the will of God rather than the will of the world. Christians may work to ensure that the Word of God is heard and is given room among the many other voices which will constitute the diverse whole. To insist that the Word of God be imposed on all without exception is to fall once again into an unbiblical oppression. To fail to articulate the Word of God in the saeculum, however, is to give in in a secularism which, by excluding the Creator, can lead only to death.

Deliverance from sin and forgiveness of sin were indeed emphasized in his preaching; but his dominant thought was that of struggle toward an ideal moral life. This is the idea that must take possession of modern Christianity, if it is to be reconciled with modern views and civilization and to win for itself the educated classes. Not as a dogmatic system, but as a moral power, based on the powerful personality of Jesus, must Christianity be proclaimed to the thinking people of our times?

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Feast of Christ the King

November 21, 2010, is the last day for ordinary times and we will start again to our new liturgical calendar, the beginning of the advent season. We commemorate the feast of Christ our king in Villa del Sol in City of San Fernando Pampanga to be one or be united to praise and glorify Him. The main theme of the celebration is about the Reproductive Health Bill that the Church is not in favor. A prayer rally was held so that the people may be aware of the consequences when this bill will be passed.

A lot of different organization joined the rally to witness the solemnity of our Lord and be one to against the said bill. And when the homily started the priest really focus about the Reproductive Health Bill and associate it with the feast of Christ the King. The Church said that it will weaken and loosen the moral fiber of the nation and it will introduce a new culture, the culture of death. Also it will have an irreversible consequence in our life.

By listening and understanding the homily, the Reproductive Health Bill is not appropriate to each one of us because of the consequences like it is anti-poor and anti-life. As a Catholic, life is so important to us. We treasure it because life is not our possession, God only give it to us and He is the only one who can tell when will we going to die and what is our future. We only do what good for everyone and God will give us what we really deserve.

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Does Religion Cause Wars?

There is a conventional belief among many individuals that religion is the main cause of the present and past wars inflicting torment within the world. However, many humans fail to see past that belief; they are unable to understand that religion is just a small factor amongst the many contributing to the cause of wars. In fact, religion is merely a tool and an excuse used to hide the need for power and sins of the human nature. Among these factors, it may be the misinterpretation of religious teachings and the differing ideals of many individuals.

Unfortunately, these factors are often overlooked as most people view this issue with a simplistic mindset. The idea of religion is often able to bring peace and harmony within the world. In saying this though, religion may be twisted and exploited by individuals for either economic or political reasons, mostly with the blind ambition for power and control. Such people have used religion as a tool and an excuse in order to achieve their own personal desires. This is apparent with the previous Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi president had aimed to persuade the Jihadists to start a holy war against the United States and British forces, who were seeking to dismiss him for his position. Saddam Hussein had publicly voiced his call toward the Jihadists in an Iraqi state television, where he encouraged them through his statement, “jihad is a duty in confronting them… Those who are martyred will be rewarded in heaven. Seize the opportunity, my brothers” (Saddam Hussein). It is evident; however, that Saddam Hussein did not really view the war he intended to begin as a religious war.

Instead he planned to use religion as an excuse for his own political gains, which was to maintain his position as president of Iraq. In conclusion, religion is not the sole reason of the previous and present wars within the world, it is also the people themselves who exploit and twist religion itself. Many individuals often find it difficult to give religion a precise definition. It is within their ability to understand the concept of religion yet are unable to provide an accurate definition of the word. Therefore, many may have their own interpretations of what religion truly is.

This notion is similar to how individuals may have varying views in regards to the religious teachings of their religion. Sadly, in some cases, people may actually misinterpret the teachings of their religion, which can often lead to disastrous outcomes. Such consequences are evident with the infamous belief of ‘Jihad’. The concept of Jihad means “holy war” or “the holy struggle”. It also teaches that there shall be no use of violence “except in the case of defensive wars, wars which are waged to punish a tyrant, or those which are meant to uphold freedom” (Concept of Jihad, pg 2).

Unfortunately, there are others who misunderstand the concept of Jihad and instead believe it to be complete submission to Allah, which further means they are “prepared to die (martyrdom) in the course of this submission”. Such cases usually result in terrorism and suicide bombings, where individuals believe that by forcing others into their religion, by death, will please Allah. The most known example of these occurrences is the September 11 suicide bombings where approximately two planes crashed into the twin towers in New York, USA.

This event was not necessarily a war but was instead an attack part of the already ongoing war between the United States and the Islamic, terrorist group, Al-Qaeda. From this event it is evident that the members of Al-Qaeda had misinterpreted the concept of Jihad and instead violated the religion by using violence for unnecessary reasons. It can be concluded that even though religion may play a role in the cause of wars, it is not necessarily the only factor to blame but also the misinterpretation of the religious teachings of religions.

It is not solely religion itself that spur the gruesome wars that have occurred throughout history, but also the varying ideals of the religious worshipers. Unfortunately, in some cases there is a chance that the ideals of certain individuals may have a larger influence on them than their own religious beliefs. Such terms are often confused with each other; however, there is a prominent difference between the two. Beliefs are set in stone already, statements or truths that humans have decided to place their confidence in.

On the other hand, ideals are personal concepts of perfection; they have no boundaries unlike beliefs. When the ideals of humans have a larger power over them, the results often have a high chance of becoming cataclysmic. Such results are evident within Nazi Germany during the Second World War, after the 1930s. Germany had been under the dictatorship of a tyrant known as Adolf Hitler. Hitler was infamously known for his cruelty and mass murder towards the Jews in Germany at that time.

His reason for his actions was that by protecting himself against the Jews, he was “defending the handiwork of God” (Mein Kampf, pg 60). Despite his religious reason, he had a deeper hatred towards the Jews and desired an ideal world, where there was only a majority of pure descendants of the “Aryan” race. The Aryan race involved humans with certain features such as blonde hair and blue eyes. Hitler believed that the Jews were contaminating his ideal race as they offered the “most striking contrast to the Aryan” (Mein Kampf, pg 259), thus leading to his revulsion towards the Jews.

It is unmistakable that the beliefs of Hitler were not the only cause of his actions but also his extreme ideals, which had lead to the carnage he had incited. Therefore, it is not only religion itself that cause wars but also the differing ideals of humans. Religion is often unfairly blamed as the direct cause of wars throughout the world. It is often used as a scapegoat as many people cannot look past that simplistic view. Many individuals have never considered the possibilities of other factors contributing to such wars.

A few of these factors are the exploitation of religion for the personal gains of individuals, the misinterpretation of religious teachings and the differing ideals of many humans. From these factors, it is evident that it is not just religion itself that causes the wars, but the people themselves also who actually wage these atrocities. Adolf Hitler (1998). Mein Kampf. United States: Houghton Mifflin Company PDF file viewed at – http://www. greatwar. nl/books/meinkampf/meinkampf. pdf Last accessed 26/2/12 A. Ezzati. 1986). The Concept Of Martyrdom In Islam . Available: http://www. al-islam. org/al-serat/concept-ezzati. htm. Last accessed 26/2/12. Coel Hellier. (2011). Nazi racial ideology was religious, creationist and opposed to Darwinism. Available: http://coelsblog. wordpress. com/2011/11/08/nazi-racial-ideology-was-religious-creationist-and-opposed-to-darwinism/#sec5. Last accessed 26/2/12. Dr. John Kelsay. (1999). THE RETURN OF THE RELIGIOUS WAR . Available: http://rinr. fsu. edu/fallwinter99/features/religiouswar. tml. Last accessed 26/2/12. Hadrat Mirza Gulam Ahmad. (1995). Jihad. The true Islamic concept. Available: http://www. alislam. org/library/articles/Jihad-Brochure. pdf. Last accessed 26/2/12 Jim Lehrer. (2003). Saddam Hussein Calls for Jihad. Available: http://www. pbs. org/newshour/extra/features/jan-june03/saddam_4-1. html. Last accessed 26/2/12 M. Amir Ali. (Unknown). Islam, Jihad, and Terrorism. Available: http://www. aboutjihad. com/terrorism/islam_jihad_terrorism. php. Last accessed 26/2/12.

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Church History

God is the Divine Author of a set of books, songs, narratives and letters that were written as a way for man to draw nearer to Him through His loving Son Jesus the Christ. God’s Word is an expression of who God is and who His Son is. J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays wrote a book called Grasping God’s Word. Within this book, the authors inspire their readers by giving a detailed reason why we study the Bible. They say, “The reason we study the Bible is that we want to hear God’s Word to us.

They go on to say, “The Bible was written by numerous human authors, but the divine aspect of it is inseparably and mysteriously interwoven into every verse. The term we use to describe this relationship between the divine role and the human role is inspiration. Inspiration can be defined as the process in which God directed individuals, incorporating their abilities and styles, to produce His message to humankind. ”[1] Our Bible is an inspired canon of the 39 received books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament.

The combined 66 books of the Old and New Testament form the orthodox belief which was founded upon the inspired moving of God among man and creation. What were the events and movements that were influential in the recognition of the canonical books? Furthermore, what methodology was used by the applicable individuals and councils that deemed these 66 books the inspired Word of God? In her work titled, “The Establishment of Christian Orthodoxy of the Holy Bible”, Kathy McFarland gives us a very in depth understanding of the foundation of orthodoxy and the establishment of canon.

I will begin by reviewing her thought about the foundation of orthodoxy. McFarland states, “Both Christians and pagans were shocked by the heretical ideas that were developing by the late second-century. Irenaeus, a Christian author who represented the ‘mainstream’, non-gnostic Christianity, wrote a book attacking Gnosticism because it denigrated the material world, removing the ability for God’s active interest from being expressed, and separated the God of the Old Testament from the God of the New. Tertullian agreed with Irenaeus that the Christian faith originated with Jesus and established a standard which belief could be tested.

As Tertullian put it in his Prescription against the heretics, “It is clear that all doctrine which agrees with the apostolic churches – those moulds and original sources of the faith – must be considered true, as undoubtedly containing what those churches received from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, Christ from God. And all doctrine must be considered false which contradicts the truth of the churches and apostles of Christ and God. “This apostolic principle became extremely important in later centuries as the orthodox standards of faith were established. Now we have an understanding of the foundation of orthodoxy, I will now delve into McFarland thoughts on the establishment of the canon.

“Christians possessed the writings by the apostles and their disciples that they believed expressed the rule of faith in written form by the time of Irenaeus and Tertullian, Most of the local churches within the Roman world agreed to which writings should be included in the NT canon by the second century; however, this agreement was not formalized until the third council of Carthage in 397. Most scholars believe that the New Testament canon was completed by A. D. 100, if not earlier. They would read these writings in the practice of their faith as they met, and thought of these writings as equal to the writings the Jewish Scripture.

The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), was in the Canon as the New Testament began to be added over a period of 400 years. The basis for including a book in Scripture was apparent within the process of declaring the Christian Canon, and required that each addition be prophetic, authoritative, authentic, life-transforming, widely recognized as the Word of God and reliable.

Those declared inspired were of two basic categories of both eyewitness accounts of the Messiah (the Gospels), and letters from key witnesses written to various groups of believers (the Epistles). Concentrated effort was made to establish the authoritative collection of inspired books of the Bible into the Canon during the fourth century; however, there had been earlier attempts to list the acceptable books. The Muratorian Canon had listed all the books of the Bible except for 1 John, 1 and 2 Peter, Hebrews and James around A. D. 180, and the Syriac Version of the Canon lists all of the books except Revelation in the third century.

The apocryphal writings were seen as less than inspired by the fourth century, and many of the books previously held in high regard were beginning to disappear, as the formal establishment of Canon began. Both the East and the West Churches established their Canons in the fourth century on the criterion of maintaining a connection to the apostles or their immediate disciples in the collection of writings.

Athanasius of Alexandria listed the complete 27 books of the New Testament for the Eastern Church, while Jerome listed just 39 Old Testament books with our present-day 27 New Testament ones for the West Church. The resulting Vulgate Bible, translated by Jerome to Latin, was used throughout the Christian world. The Synods of Carthage confirmed the 27 books of the New Testament of our present day Bibles in 397 and 418. [2] We have taken a look into the thoughts of Kathy McFarland. Now let’s take a journey into the mind of Sam A. Smith, the author of “Important Truths About the Bible, Part 2: How and Where Did We Get Our Bible? Smith makes the following observations about the canonicity of the books of the Bible: Canonicity refers to a book’s status, as to whether or not it should be regarded as divinely authoritative (inspired) and thus worthy to be included within the canon (the group of writings recognized as the Word of God).

Perhaps you have wondered how the early church knew which books should be regarded as part of the Bible, and which ones should be excluded (like Tobit, Judith, Baruch, the Gospel of Thomas)? Many people mistakenly think that some group of church officials at the council of Nicia in A. D. 325 sat down and voted on which books they thought should be included and that’s how we got our Bible. But that simply isn’t the way it happened. Actually, so far as we can determine, each target group to which a portion of Scripture was addressed immediately recognized it as Scripture on a par with all other Scripture. This is true of both Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures. Note the following examples of how Scripture was immediately recognized as the Word of God by the target audience. Moses’ writings were placed beside the Ark of the Covenant (Deut. 31:24-29).

Daniel, a contemporary of Jeremiah, regarded Jeremiah’s prophetic writings as Scripture (Dan. 9:1-2 cf. Jer. 25:11). Peter recognized Paul’s writing as being on a par with the Old Testament Scriptures (2 Pet. 3:14-16). Church councils only stated the churches official recognition on the books that had long since been received, and denied equal status to more recent, spurious documents. In order to understand how we came to have the specific sixty-six books that are in our Bible we need to look at the formation of the Old Testament and New Testament canons individually. The word “canon” means “authority,” or “standard” by which other things are judged. The word “canon” when used of Scripture refers to the books deemed to be authoritative, i. e. , God’s Word. The Protestant canon contains sixty-six books. The Roman Catholic canon is longer, having added several books in the sixteenth century which were not regarded as canonical by the early church—to which effect Jerome included a notation in his Latin translation. ] Let’s look at the status of the Old Testament and New Testament canons.

The question of which books should be included in the Old Testament is fairly simple and was settled before Christ was born. Note the following. 1) Except for the Sadducees, who only accepted the books of Moses, the Jewish people regarded as Scripture the same thirty-nine books as the Protestant church today (though they had them arranged so that some books now split were combined, e. g. , 1 & 2 Samuel). 2) The Old Testament that Jesus used was essentially the same as the one used today. ) The Old Testament apocryphal books accepted by the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century were never accepted as Scripture by Jesus or the Jewish people; nor did the early Church accept them. 4) Early quotations of the apocryphal books by some church fathers (Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and Cyprian)–none of whom were Old Testament or Hebrew scholars–occurred at a time when the extent of the Old Testament canon was not well understood (especially by non-Jewish religious leaders), and some may have mistakenly thought that these books had been an accepted part of the Hebrew canon, when in fact they were not.

Concerning the New Testament canon, since the gospels and the letters that were written to the early churches were scattered over the Roman Empire, it took a bit of time for the churches to assess what they had and to weed out common letters from those received as the inspired Word of God. There was very little pressure to do this until suspicious documents began to show up in key doctrinal disputes. Then it became necessary to determine the scope of the New Testament canon.

It is extremely important to understand that the early church did not determine which books would become Scripture; they merely endeavored to recognize which books the churches had already received as Scripture, and to exclude spurious documents. Such tests weren’t arbitrary; they were derived from what the church leaders already knew about the character of Scripture from those books of undisputed authenticity. The following are some of the questions the early church used to assess the status of a document in question.

1) Does the writing claim to be inspired, and is its message consistent with other books of undisputed authenticity? 2) Is the author a recognized servant of God (an apostle, prophet, or early church leader)? 3) Are there good reasons to believe the document was written at the time and by the author from whom it purports to have originated? (In other words: Is it authentic? ) 4) Is the document factually correct? 5) Does the document claim to be authoritative (i. e. , the word of the Lord)? 6) Is the document in doctrinal agreement with other accepted books? ) Is there any evidence of fulfilled prophecy in the document? 7) Does the book have a universal character (i. e. , a message that transcends the local culture and milieu)? 8) Is the message of the document sublime (that is, based on what we know about God from other received books, can we conceive of God saying the things contained in the document)? Don’t get the idea that this exact list of questions was checked off for each and every book or document, but generally if a document was challenged; it was challenged on the grounds of one or more of the issues raised by these questions.

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Moses Mendelsohn and the Religious Enlightenment

“His life our standard, his teaching our light” Isaac Euchel wrote about Moses Mendelssohn. Moses was a model for Jews in Germany during the late 1770’s, and a dominant figure in the emergence of the Haskalah. The Haskalah borrowed many forms and categories from the already existing European Enlightenment, but its contents were largely derived from medieval Jewish philosophy and biblical exegesis.

Within the novel, Moses Mendelssohn and the Religious Enlightenment, David Sorkin conveys how Moses made the German Enlightenment compatible with Judaism, and shows Moses to be a more consistent thinker than previously believed; his views on Judaism, natural laws, and natural rights developed early and remained consistent throughout his lifetime. Sorkin accounts Moses’ contributions to Jewish thought in three successive phases: philosophical, exegetical, and political. First, in the philosophical phase, Sorkin reveals the foundations of Moses’ thought.

At an early age, Moses read the bible, memorized passages, studied Hebrew grammar, and wrote biblical poetry. All of these activates later were key in the Haskalah. In 1743, at fourteen, Moses moved to Berlin, which was at the center of the German Enlightenment, and theorist Christian Wolff was a dominating influence. Wolff’s focus was to natural theology, where he accounted that God’s existence and attributes were the basis for theology and ethics. Influenced by Wolff, Moses sought to apply these Wolffian concepts to Judaism.

Moses used his own version of Wolffian philosophy as a means to articulate his full belief in revealed religion. For example, he alluded that God was the source of all perfection and thus the source of metaphysics and natural theology. He thought that Enlightenment philosophy and Judaism complemented each other, and that philosophy served Judaism as an instrument of self-articulation. As a result, he began to write philosophical works in German, and Jewish works in Hebrew. Most important during the start of his career, he introduced a distinction between practical and theoretical in philosophy, which was also influenced by Wolff.

Moses stressed a Jew’s primary obligation is “torah and good deeds”, not philosophical contemplation. To Moses, revelation set distinct limitation on theoretical knowledge, so he concentrated no practical knowledge, which was usually later seen in the form of commentary, since commentary was seen as the legitimate form through which truth is approached. Moses’ early Hebrew works were commentaries in which he attempted to renew the tradition of philosophy in Hebrew, again using ideas from Wolffian philosophy. His first work, The Kohelet Musar, was the first modern journal in Hebrew.

Another subject he addresses is the concept of an ideal personality, which was in terms of ones individuals’ relationship to God and his fellowman. To Moses, the ideal is the “man of faith” who combines religious study, honest occupation, family, and trust in god. Also, in Moses’ early works, he argued the importance of the study of the Hebrew language and the bible. In a commentary on Maimonides’ Logical Terms, he insisted without Torah and tradition, we are “like a blind man in the dark”, and the true path to knowledge is the combination of torah and logic.

Continuing the Wolffian beliefs, Moses asserted that although things might look accidental to man, to God they are all necessary. His early works such as The Kohelet Musar and Logical Terms were both commentaries that embodied Wolfian principles. However, The Book of the Soul, was different in the regard that it was a freestanding philosophical work that Moses withheld from publication. In Moses’ early works, Sorkin notes that the lack of any original content is significant. According to Sorkin, the conclusion of Moses’ philosophical career was with the Lavater affair in 1769-1770.

By the end of the 1760’s, Moses’ philosophical position was established and would remain until the end of his life. He created a public dualism by publishing philosophical works in only German, and commentaries on Jewish subject in Hebrew. The Lavater affair contested Moses to support all of his fundamental ideas. Johann Caspar Lavater, a Swiss Protestant pastor infamously challenged Moses to refute the arguments of the theologian, Charles Bonnet, or convert to Christianity, which Lavater referred as a “Golden Bridge” to Christianity. However, this posed a public challenge to Moses as a philosopher and as a Jew.

In response, Moses publically defended toleration on religious and philosophical grounds, but in private, he wrote counterattacks and criticized Christianity. This task was not simple, and he again used Wolffian principles help justify that Judaism was in perfect harmony with natural religion and reason. Sorkin interprets that Moses drove Lavater to end the affair, and made him isolate from the public, and Sorkin named this “the triumph of toleration”. Although Moses overcame Lavater, the affair also had grave consequences on Moses personally; the affair aggravated his physical and psychological condition.

He was a hunchback, and developed a nervous debility, which was linked to his deformity, prevented abstract thinking and grew much worse during this Lavater affair. The next period of Moses’ career, Sorkin names Exegesis, where he focused on making the bible vital to the Haskalah. First, Moses created a commentary on Ecclesiastes that is part of “wisdom literature,” and thus was able to reiterate his preference of practical knowledge. He constructed a defense of Jewish exegesis on the basis of language, and strived to show how there are multiple meanings, which are reasonable.

He said, “there are four methods of interpreting our holy torah-the literal, homiletical, allegorical, and esteric”, proving that words can bear multiple intentions. Also, in his commentary, Moses introduced divisions that did not follow the traditional chapters and verses in the bible, because he argued that traditional divisions were intended for the “convenience of the reader”. Another interesting aspect Moses brought up in Ecclesiastes, was that the idea that truth was universal and neutral, whatever its origins, meaning he deemed it permissible to use non-Jewish exegesis.

Lastly, in this commentary, language was of importance because Moses used German translations in Hebrew characters, giving equivalents with entire sentence. Sorkin believes he did this to him, Hebrew was the ideal medium for the spread of the practical knowledge, in which laid the essence of Judaism. This Ecclesiastes commentary placed him at the head of the Haskalah’s efforts to revive biblical exegesis. Next, Moses worked for thirteen years on his translation on the Psalms, with the goal of producing an exegesis document of natural religion, translated in German, and would be source of practical knowledge for Jews and Christians.

Sorkin brings attention to how Moses uses the term “edification” in reference to the Psalms, which emphasizes his desire for an exegesis that would encourage universal religiosity. In the Psalms, Moses asserts that the sublime is a form of art, and the highest form of beauty. Moses thus disagrees with the idea that God is “the most sublime being” because he believed that the sublime was not natural, but artistic, existing as a human creation. Furthermore, he affirms that the sublime’s aesthetic impact is admiration, and its spiritual impact is edification.

Unfortunately, the translation of the Psalms was only a success among the Jews, and others stated that, “nothing could be further from the truth. ” Sorkin viewed this as a confirmation that Moses’ best medium is commentary, not translation. During the same thirteen years that Moses translated the Psalms, he also translated, commented, and wrote an extensive introduction to the Pentateuch, titled Book of the Paths to Peace. This translation aimed to convey a literal meaning of the text through a fluent German translation. While Moses remained the key contributor, he had four Maskilim participate, and this made a shift in the Haskalah.

This book is divided into three themes: practical knowledge, literal meaning, and the use of history. In the first part of the Book of Paths to Peace, Moses viewed the Pentateuch as the primary source of practical knowledge for the Jews. Sorkin noticed he repeatedly argues “virtue must be made into a “second nature” by the continual exercise of moral judgment. Moses asserted that compared to the rest of humanity Israel had a special role, because those who reside in there all “believe” and the bible is a handbook of practical knowledge.

Also, in the Pentateuch, Moses wrote “man is by nature and social and will not achieve success without help from others of his kind”. Interesting, Moses stressed that God created everything, and he that he is beyond nature, and thus “science” had no place in a commentary on Creation, which further showed his resistance to theoretical knowledge. Sorkin again demonstrated how Moses kept consistent in his views, since practical knowledge already played in other works. The next portion emphasized the literal meaning as the focus of exegesis.

Due to the bible being the primary source of practical knowledge, the need to make its literal meaning known was vital for Moses. His basic premise was that the Bible had a unique oral quality that made it the most effective means of transmitting practical knowledge. He stressed the importance of grammar, and believed only with knowledge of grammar, does Gods’ word both literal and homiletical make sense, because grammar is essential to the tradition of Jewish scriptural transmission.

It is this tradition that prevents the Jews from being “like a blind man in the dark,” and Sorkin points out that Moses used the same metaphor here as he did with Logical Terms. Moses believed that due to the structure of biblical poetry, that it was the most successful method for teaching practical knowledge. The last portion of the Book of the Paths to Peace, Moses established and defended his belief in Judaism through history. History helped establish Moses’ faith. Sorkin alluded that Moses was historical without being historicist, because he recognized history in the Pentateuch rather than the Pentateuch as a product of history.

Sorkin notes that viewing history in this fashion was integral to the Haskalah and typical of the religious enlightenment. The Book of the Paths to Peace eventually had wide acceptance, even though some attacked the book. The book was meant to instruct Jewish youth, but since Moses used complex German, it forced students to concentrate on that language instead of the contents. Lastly, The final phase Sorkin accounts for in Moses’ life is his political activism. Moses was politically involved almost his entire career as a thinker and writer.

Now, he focused on the state and individual rights from the viewpoint of a Jew living in hardships. Continuing the Wolffian philosophy, he emphasized a politics based on ideas of natural rights to promote legal equality. Initially, Moses arrived in the political arena by being an intercessor. Sorkin found this unsurprising since Moses was a philosopher and writer. Communities sought Moses in times of conflict, and usually Moses’ intercession was successful. For example, the Duke in the community of Mecklenburg prohibited the Jewish practice of early burial.

Moses was asked to help, so he served as an intercessor, and the duke granted the Jews the privilege of religious liberty. However, Moses took this matter further, by trying to renew the ritual practice, just as he tried to renew the traditions of philosophy and exegesis. In 1777, Moses transitioned from the politics of intercession to the politics of emancipation, when he responded to the community of Dresden’s problem of Jew’s facing high taxation or expulsion. Moses’ letter asserted that Jews were being excluded from society because of their religion.

His work, The Ritual Laws of the Jews was seen as an integral part of his Jewish thought, and referred to as a handbook on practical knowledge. Later, Moses took on dealing with Jewish rights. Sorkin implies that Moses’ advocacy of rights was fundamentally new, yet there was also substantial continuity with his earlier thought. Moses demonstrated that history plays an even more important role in his political thinking than in his biblical exegesis since human liberties were the issue rather than divine work. In order to understand Jews’ situation in terms of rights, Moses translated Rousseau’s Discourse.

Moses maintained a balance between individual rights and absolutist state, and asked Christian Wilhelm Dohm to write a tract advocating emancipation of the Jews, and it was widely influential. Moses wrote an elaborate preface to the translation of Rousseau’s Discourse, which was divided into three parts, and titled Vindiciae Judaeorum. In the preface, it was the first time he publicly advocated “civic acceptance” or equal rights. An occurring theme in the preface was Moses expressing what he did not agree with Dohm’s memorandum, specifically with Dohm’s ban of excommunication.

Moses deemed that religious excommunication invaded on civil rights because it involved the political authorities. Since he denied religion’s right to excommunicate, he was set apart from the mainstream of that scholarship. A month after he published Vindiciae Judaeorum, he also published his translation of the Psalms. The Psalms received little attention, while Vindiciae had a huge impact. A pamphlet appeared criticizing Moses’ work, but it was published as a famous Austrian statesman in order to be taken seriously, but truly, a minor writer August Cranz wrote it.

Cranz posed more of a challenge to Moses’ faith than the Lavater’s affair; Moses had to realize that Christianity was the true religion and prepare to convert or admit Judaism was imperfect and in need of fundamental reform. Moses reacted to Cranz’s pamphlet by creating Jerusalem, or On Religious Power and Judaism, which Sorkin views as Moses’ fullest elaboration of his views on rights and the nature of Judaism. Jerusalem is divided into two parts; part one addresses Cranz’ contention that in “repudiating the ban of excommunication, he had repudiated Judaism.

Moses argues mainly on the basis of natural rights. Moses’ theory of church and state is rooted in his idea of benevolence. He thought the best state was one whose members were able to govern themselves through education, and the institution capable of providing such education was religion. Moses also went back to Wolffian principle of metaphysics by asserting that liberty of conscience was crucial for the achievement of man’s eternal vocation. In part two, Moses addressed Cranz’s view that Moses left Judaism, and abandoned religion altogether.

Moses answered using philosophical views, and switched between his exposition of Judaism and a digression of a specific subject to advance his argument, and to continue his method of writing German philosophy in German, and Judaism in Hebrew. He argued on the basis of revealed legislation. He stated that Judaism is a religion of revealed legislation, not of revealed beliefs. He asserted that only through a second revelation, comparable to the one at Sinai, could God establish the authority necessary to introduce changes into the practice of the law.

The two parts of Jerusalem, fit closely together, since many of the themes developed in part one are discussed in part two. To conclude Sorkin’s argument, Moses was a traditional Jewish figure who sought to renew traditional philosophy and Biblical exegesis in Hebrew. Sorkin successfully displayed how Moses made the German Enlightenment compatible with the Haskalah, and stayed constant with his philosophy throughout his life. It is only normal that after reading Sorkin’s Moses Mendelssohn and the Religious Enlightenment that certain parts were more striking than others.

Not only are certain aspects of the book especially intriguing, but also, I do not agree with certain theories that Moses posed. Also, I cannot help but compare the Haskalah to the European Enlightenment that preceded it. First, it is miraculous how one person can make a difference in others lives. Moses lived during a time where Jewish communities were suffering from not having equal rights in society. Jews were denied education, certain occupations, citizen status, and were the first ones to be held responsible for problems or crimes.

The fact that Moses, with his short stature and hunchback, still had the confidence and ability to make reforms in society is unbelievable. Sorkin only mentioned Moses’ deformity once, and it is of graver importance than that. People who are blessed without any deformities take for granted how easy their life is, and I believe that more acknowledgements should be given to Moses for enduring such a struggle. Also, in Sorkin’s reference to Moses’ deformity, he also mentioned a nervous debility that was linked to his abnormality, which prevented conceptual thinking, and grew worse after the Lavater affair.

The fact that this was only mentioned once, and in one quick sentence gives the impression that this was not a serious issue. However, if such a physiological condition occurred in Moses, one would think that since all of his works entailed abstract thinking, since he was a philosopher, that this would have severe consequences on his career. Yet, Moses was able to produce numerous works after the Lavater affair and many of them were highly praised. It makes one speculate, if Sorkin’s information about Moses’ nervous disability is completely accurate.

Another part of the book that caught my attention was the aftermath of Christian Wilhelm Dohm’s publication of On the Civic Amelioration of the Jews, even though he was doing Moses a favor by writing it, and it provoked a major debate that made the rights of Jews a public issue, which is what Moses wanted. However, Sorkin displayed many aspects that Moses did not agree with what Christian wrote. For instance, Moses took issue with the notion that artisanry and farming are the sole sources of wealth, and with the ban of excommunication. Moses affirmed that no one could legitimately claim to exercise authority over another’s belief.

Sorkin’s writing gave the impression that Moses was angry with Christian for putting certain beliefs in writing. This caught me by surprise because I was under the impression that Christian and Moses were good friends. The fact that Christian agreed to write this document, even though Moses was asked to write it, implied that they were in agreement with what was to be written. The way that Sorkin addressed this conflict in the book further suggests that Christian went against what Moses asked of him, and used this as an opportunity to voice his own opinions on the issue of Jewish emancipation.

Furthermore, in a way, one can view Christian as being a catalyst for Cranz’s challenge. The connection is that Christian published work that Moses felt the need to counter in Vindiciae Judaeorum, and thus gave rise to Cranz challenging Moses. Additionally, I discovered that certain areas in the book negated Moses’ entire goal of the Haskalah. First, it is important to recall that prior to the rise of the Haskalah, most Christian thinkers thought Judaism was an irrational dark religion that did not allow for the age of Enlightenment. Hence gave rise to the premise that Jews were incapable of reaching such intellectual levels.

Interestingly, Sorkin and Moses both acted in ways that confirm this idea. First, Moses published philosophy in German and commentaries in Hebrew. This action can be seen as if he was making it harder for Jews to reach an enlightened state. By publishing philosophy in German, which most Jews could not read, he further separated them from society. Also, not only were his philosophical works in German, but also they were in such a high level of German, that was very rare for a Jew to be able to write at this level. This also made it harder for Jews to understand his German works.

Another instance is seen when the translation of the Psalms was only a victory among the Jews, and while non-Jews stated, “nothing could be further from the truth. ” Sorkin viewed this as a confirmation that Mendelssohn’s best medium is commentary, not translation. Two things are happening in this situation. First, the reaction from society demonstrates that indeed the Jews are not as intelligent as the non-Jews because they thought Moses’ commentary was brilliant, when the majority of the population thought it was not legitimate to be a valid translation.

Second, Sorkin’s account that Moses’ best means is commentary, shows that Sorkin is agreeing with the statement that his translation did not contain enough truth, thus putting Moses in the category of not being able to obtain enlightened thought. Next, in comparison to the European Enlightenment, the Haskalah is very different, even though it emerged because of the Enlightenment. The European Enlightenment held faith in the power of human reason to illuminate the world, rather than divine revelation. It encouraged an attitude of critical reflection, rather than an acceptance of received wisdom.

Also, the Enlightenment was in sync with the Scientific Revolution in the early 1770’s and created the concept that science is a form of knowledge (Western Civilizations). In contrast, Moses affirmed that the best state was one whose members were able to govern themselves through education, and it was through religious institutions that are most capable of providing such education. This thinking is completely opposite of the Enlightenment, because their goal was to forget about religious teachings, and only learn from science, and other forms of confirmed reason.

Another example that is contrasted to the Enlightenment is when Moses pleaded that a general disquisition on “science” had no place in a commentary on Creation. Members of the Enlightenment used the theory of evolution to explain the creation of the universe, which is all based on science. Also, using Wolffian beliefs, Mendelssohn asserted that although things might look accidental to man, to God they are all necessary, implying that everything on Earth happens for a reason.

Again, this is not in accord with the Enlightenment philosophy because they do not refer to a God creating the future of the world, instead they sought evidence and valid truths to prove their beliefs that all is created through science and man labor. Interestingly, there are similarities between Moses Mendelssohn and Immanuel Kant, who was a key figure of the European Enlightenment. Moses became a member of Wednesday Society, which was devoted to political subjects.

He often gave lectures; his most common lecture was “What is enlightenment? Similarly, Immanuel Kant became known by answering the question: What is Enlightenment? ” written as a response to the Reverend Zollner. Kant also proposed to eliminate certain church and state restrictions, just as Moses did in Jerusalem. Although a huge difference is Kant believed religion infringed on one’s ability to full reason, while Moses saw religion, specifically Judaism as an integral part of the Haskalah, it is important to notice the comparisons between the two, especially since they are regarded as holding such different ideologies (Perspectives on the Past).

Overall, Moses Mendelssohn was a principal figure in the creation of the Haskalah. He was a model Jew, and made many contributions to Jewish life during the end of the eighteenth century. After reading the novel, Moses Mendelssohn and the Religious Enlightenment, I now have a better understanding and respect for Moses Mendelssohn and the Haskalah. David Sorkin succeeded in providing information that accurately describes Moses’ philosophical works and showed how Moses made the German Enlightenment compatible with Judaism.

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Free Essays

Early Syncretism in India and China

There are two common traits reasons syncretism had not occurred in very early on in the Eastern Cultures of Indian and China. These have to do with the adaptability of religion and focus on discipline and work culture.

Not all world religions are equally open to economic changes. The adaptability of a religious tradition may be measured by whether its sacred texts are open to translation and interpretation. This was not the case with Buddhism, Confucianism or Hinduism. There are various books and interpretations of Hinduism and Budhism. In India, Hinduism does not have any element of a structured religion; in fact it is loosely structured and that is why it has been resilient and tenacious enough to survive and expand. (Das, n.d) In China, it was established that Confucian tradition would continue to be the sources of value system, and modernization would continue for material gains. As there were various interpretations for one religious belief, no counter opposing philosophy existed.

Buddhism and Hinduism focus on work culture as part of the religious paradigm. The concept Karma which literally means a person’s actions, includes the notion, good work deserves good reward. In a free society it is the toughest to cultivate discipline in its people. Discipline is required one personal level to complete education as a student, or a jobs as a professional. With karma’s discipline embedded at a grass-root level, far eastern cultures’ workers possessed the skills and focus needed by workers to progress the economy. (Norbu, 1996).

Thus implying that had syncretism integrated itself in the early encounters in the history of India and China, these two societies would have smaller communities that were deeply religious,resistant to work, averse to modernization and trade. Aversion to modernization and trade would’ve resulted in the colonization and dissolution of these societies. As a result India and China would not have existed as the emerging power houses of the world economy as we know it today.

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Religion

The argument that I have chosen for this assignment and feel more comfortable using when trying to convince an open-minded non-believer in the existence of God, is number 19 “The Common Consent Argument. ” In my own words this argument argues that it is common that all individuals worship, respect, and admire God, many individuals has had their wrong opinion and been wrong their beliefs, and that everyone should believe in God and that God really do exist.

It argues that there is some kind of God is intrinsic or innate and has existed deliberately in almost the whole humankind in history and if God didn’t exist, then God wouldn’t be as popular as he is. The strengths of the argument are that individuals all over the world people in God and a common part of the lives of individuals and their daily lives. Two of the arguments weaknesses are that it does not show the differences in the actual existence of some form of God and the desire that individuals have for God.

The belief well-known in God can reflect the existence of God or the desire of the community for a protective force to have an answer for the hard questions, such as what happens after death and the reasons why it thunders. Another weakness is that the argument fit into place in a reasonable misleading notion misleading notion that is known as the bandwagon misleading notion.

The attributes of God supported by the argument are: “For believing in God is like having a relationship with a person”, “God really is there, given such widespread belief in him”, “God is the result of childhood fears, that God is a projection of our human fathers: someone up there can protect us from natural forces we consider hostile”, and “God must be a cosmic projection of our human fathers. I think that the argument might affect the non-believer intellectually and emotionally, because there are so many individuals who have their own view and their own opinions on God, many who believe that God really do exist and many who believe that there is no God. Regardless of the fact there will still be both believers and non-believers of God and all that he can do, as well as things that many like to know, that they will never know about God.

References Economic Expert (2012). Argument from common consent. Retrieved from http://www. economicexpert. com/a/Argument:from:common:consent. html Kreeft, P. (1994). Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God. The Common Consent Argument. Retrieved from http://www. peterkreeft. com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence. htm

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2 Unit Religion – Aboriginal Spirituality.

What does Terra Nullius mean? From at least 60,000 B. C. , Australia was inhabited entirely by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with traditional, social and land rights. To the Aborigines the land was everything to them and is closely linked to their Dreaming stories. Dreaming is the belief system which explains how the ancestral beings moved across the land and created life and significant geographic features. In consideration, the Indigenous Australians are a people with a close relationship with the land, and through the land they maintain the spiritual links to the ancestral beings.

The land is sacred, and for many thousand years, Aboriginal people lived in harmony on their land. After the arrival of the British colonies in 1788, Australia was declared “Terra Nullius”, which is a Latin term meaning land belongs to no one. As a result of this, Captain Cook, the British captain of the first fleet of ships to arrive at Australia’s shore, claimed that all of the east coast of Australia belonged to Britain. The underlying argument was that Aboriginal people were so low on scale of human development that their needs were discounted.

Because Aboriginal people did not farm the land, build permanent houses on it or use it in other familiar ways, the British decreed that they did not have rights over the land nor did they have any proof of land ownership. Another reason was that there was no identifiable hierarchy or political order which the British government could recognise or negotiate with. Once European settlement began, Aboriginal rights to traditional lands was disregarded and the Aboriginal people of the Sydney region were almost obliterated by introduced diseases and, to a lesser extent, armed force.

First contacts were relatively peaceful but Aboriginal people and their culture was strange to the Europeans as well as their plants and animals. Consequently, Terra Nullius continued on for over 200 years. Figure 1: Eddie Mabo Figure 1: Eddie Mabo Who was Eddie Mabo? Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo (seen in figure 1) was born on 29 June 1936, in the community of Las on Mer, known as Murray Island in the Torres Strait. His birth name was Eddie Koiki Sambo; however he was raised by his Uncle Benny Mabo through a customary ‘Island adoption’. During this time, the concept of “terra nullius” was legislation.

When Eddie was growing up, life for the people of the Torres Strait Islands was strictly regulated with laws made by the Queensland Government. However, the Meriam people strived to maintain continuity with the past and continued to live a traditional lifestyle based on fishing, gardening and customary laws of inheritance. At the age of 16, Eddie was exiled from Murray Island for breaking customary Island law, and he set off for the mainland where a new life was waiting for him. Through university, Eddie read a speech in front of people about his people’s belief about the land ownership.

A lawyer heard him and asked if he would like to argue with the Australian government about the right for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to have land rights. After this, Eddie Mabo was successful in addressing the concept of native title to the Australian government on behalf of Murray Island people. He is known for his role in campaigning for indigenous land rights and for his role in a landmark decision of the high court of Australia which neglected the legal doctrine of “terra nullius” land belong to nobody, which characterized Australian law with regards to land and title.

Eddie died in 21 January 1992 and was unable to see the native title given to them. What were the Mabo case and the high court decisions? In the 1970’s, the Queensland Government took over Aboriginal land and was unsympathetic to the concept of land rights or any idea of native title to the land. On the 20th of May 1982, Eddie Koiki Mabo and four other Torres Strait Islanders challenged “terra Nullius” and began their legal claim for ownership to the Supreme Court of Queensland of heir lands on the island of Mer in the Torres Strait since their people had lived on the islands long before the arrival of the white settlement. Eventually, the supreme court of Queensland dismissed the case. Later, another challenge to the concept of “terra Nullius” was witnessed when Mabo and the four other islanders took the case to the High court of Australia. They requested that the court declare that their traditional land ownership and rights to the land and seas of the Mer Islands had not been extinguished. Furthermore, they claimed that the Crown’s authority over the islands was subject to the land rights of the Murray Islanders.

It was not until 3 June 1992 that Mabo case No. 2 was decided. By then, 10 years after the case opened, Eddie Mabo had died. By a majority, six out of one of the judges agreed that the Meriam people did have traditional ownership of their land. The judges held that British possession had not eliminated their title and that the Meriam people are entitled as to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the lands of the Murray Islands. This decision has wiped the concept of “terra nullius” and awarded the indigenous Australians with the Native Title.

Consequently, the term “Native title” is still in existence and contributed to allow the Indigenous Australians to maintain a continuous spiritual and cultural connection to the land. Therefore, this decision was important because it recognised that Australia was inhabited By the Indigenous Australians long before the White settlement and hold the native title. What is the Native title Act (1993) Commonwealth? Native title is a legal term which recognises the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the use and occupation of lands with which they have maintained a continuing, traditional connections.

Eventually, in the 1970’s the Queensland government began to remove the land rights of people of Murray Island in the Torres Strait. One of the Meriam people, Eddie Mabo, took the Queensland Government to court to prevent this from happening. Sadly, this case failed. Moreover, Mabo and some other people took the case to the high court of Australia. The high court decided in favour of the Meriam people and recognised the principle of Native title. Ultimately, during this historical event, Eddie Mabo was dead. In 1993, The Keating Labor government passed the Native Title Act.

This Act accepted the notion of Native title in law and also recognised the rights of owners of freehold property. Nevertheless, pastoralists and miners were still concerned, and many people leased land from the government. The legislation aimed to codify the Mabo decision and implemented strategies to facilitate the process of granting native title. However, it had not resolved the question of whether the granting of pastoral lease extinguished Native title. In this case, the High court argued that native title could co-exist with the rights of leaseholders.

However, the pastoralists and the mining companies who lease lands were still concerned that the court was too much in favour of native title. In 1997, native title act passed by the Howard government. This act stated that Native title and leasehold rights could co-exist and in any conflict, the rights or the leaseholders would come first. What was the Wik Decision (1996) commonwealth? The Native title Act of 1993 had not resolved the question of whether the granting of a pastoral lease extinguished Native title.

In 1993, the Wik people on Cape York in Queensland made a claim for land on Cape York Peninsula which included two large Pastoral leases. The federal court upheld the Native Title Act 1993 against the Wik people, with an argument that Aboriginal Australians had no control over land that has been leased. This case was further taken to the High court of Australia. In December 1996, the high court ruled that the granting of a pastoral lease had not in fact extinguished native title. With reference to a letter from 1848 in which a British secretary of state for colonies wrote to governor of

NSW which stated that the leaseholders had to negotiate with the traditional owners to allow them access. Pastoralists viewed the Wik decision with great concerns, for they had always believed that they had full and sole rights to manage their leases. After the Wik decision, Pastoralists would have to negotiate with any group who could prove native title right. Unfortunately, the pastoralists and miners increased the pressure on government because they were not happy with the Wik decision and the idea that Indigenous Australians had rights to leased land.

After a debate on this issue, the Howard government passed an amendment to the 1993 Native title Act. This change reduced the rights of indigenous Australians under the act and removed their right to negotiate with pastoralists and miners. This new law, made it difficult for Aboriginal Australians to make land rights claims Outline the importance of the Dreaming for the land rights movement? The Dreaming for Australian Indigenous people (sometimes referred to as the Dreamtime or Dreamtimes) refers to when the Ancestral Beings moved across the land and created life and significant geographic features.

The land rights are of critical importance in relation to Aboriginal spirituality, because the dreaming is inextricably connected with the land. Since the Dreaming is closely connected to the land, the land rights movement is an important movement in helping Aboriginal people re-establish spiritual links with their sacred land which was lost as a result of the European settlement. The dreaming is essential to the land rights movement because of many reasons such as: To the Aborigines, the dreaming is the central role which land occupies in Aboriginal spirituality, as land is the path through which the dreaming is experienced and communicated.

Without the land, the dreaming cannot be communicated because it is from the land that the stories of ancestor spirits in the dreaming flow. It is through their intimate connection to the land that the foundational concept which lies at the heart of Aboriginal spirituality, that is, the dreaming can be accessed. The land therefore, acts as the mother for the Aboriginal people, and that since it is, the identity of every Aboriginal person is closely linked to the land. Therefore, the importance of the land rights movement for Aboriginal spirituality should not be underestimated.

More importantly, the dreaming stories provide the entire ethical and moral basis by which Aboriginal people live on their land and relate to each other. It is known that the access to their land is fundamental to the putting into practice of Aboriginal law. This factor underlies the Aboriginal law is the knowledge and ritual relating to sacred sites. These sites need to be cared for and this is done through ritual ceremony. Each person is linked to the spirit ancestor who created the land, and it is this which creates an Aboriginal person’s identity.

Through the dreaming, Spirit connects each person with particular sacred sites, with the result that each person has a connection with specific places on the land. According to the Aboriginal belief system, individuals have clearly defined responsibilities in relation to the land, in particular the protection of sacred sites. Sacred sites may be desecrated through grazing, mining, or perhaps contact with site by people without knowledge of the necessary ritual. Access to these sites is critical for the performance of rituals and ceremonies so that the law can be taught to new generations.

Another importance of the dreaming is that the dreaming connects each tribe to a totem. A totem is an emblem mainly a plant or an animal that has become a symbol for a group who is believed to be responsible for their existence. The totem unifies the Clan (group) under the leadership of the spirit ancestor and thereby also creates a metaphysical connection with other clans bearing the same totem. Without their access to their totems, the Aboriginal people would lose their identity and prevent the belief system to be passed on to the next generation. Also, being taken away from a totem can alienate the individual from their clan.

The land rights movement can re-establish the access to the totems and belonging to the same clan under the sacred totem. Thus, the dreaming which explains the clan’s existence by their totem is essential to the land rights movement. For the purpose of land rights and spiritual fulfilment of the land, the Australian History has witnessed many land rights movement. Those include the Yolgnu people of Yirrkala in 1963 and the 1966 Gurindji people. In 1963, the Yolgnu people of Yirrkala sent a typed petition in both their own language and English to the federal parliament because the government had granted a mining company the right to mine auxite without consulting the traditional owners. The paper was fixed to a surrounding bark painting which depicted the people’s relationship with the land, and the Yirrkala people were seeking recognition of rights to their traditional lands on the Gove Peninsula. This however, was rejected in the court. To not underestimating this land rights movement, it was the first Aboriginal land rights movement and was an important step in the eventual recognition of indigenous land rights movement.

Another Early land rights movement was in 1966, when the Gurindji people began a strike at the British-owned Wave Hill station in the Northern Territory to protest about intolerable working conditions and low wages. They set up a camp at Wattie Creek and demanded that some of their traditional lands to be restored to them. The protest eventually led to their being granted the rights to Wattie Creek by the Whitlam Government in 1975. The passing by the Fraser Government of the Commonwealth Land Rights Act northern territory, 1976, gave Aboriginal people freehold title to traditional lands in the northern territory.

As shown, the land rights movements were based on the belief of the dreaming. This is because the land is closely linked to the dreaming and by restoring land rights again, the Aboriginal community could re-establish the dreaming which involves the land, sacred sites, totems and ancestral beings. How has dispossession affected Aboriginal spirituality? (seperatio Land, kinship, stolen generation). The Dispossession of the Indigenous Australians has had a major impact on their Spirituality and beliefs, including their connection to the land, kinship and explored a major effect which is the stolen Generation.

When the White Settlement began in Australia in 1788, Australia was called “terra Nullius” meaning that the land belongs to no body. What was unknown to the British settlement is that the land is the home for the Aborigines and those Aborigines have been living in this land for more than 50,000 years. In the nineteenth century and much of the twentieth century the official policy towards Aboriginal Australians was called protectionism. Protectionism is the idea that Aboriginal Australians needed to be separated from the white society and be protected because they were unable to do so.

As a result, they were removed from their traditional lands and placed in missions which at that time were controlled by Christian churches. This was a major factor in separating Aboriginal people from their own culture and religions. Since the Aboriginal religion is based on the dreaming which refers to the time where ancestors created the land, the dreaming is closely connected to the land because it is through the land that the stories of the dreaming emerge. Many of their rituals and ceremonies were inseparably linked to the land and sacred sites.

Consequently, many Aborigines were separated from their spiritualties and beliefs. Another major effect of dispossession from land is when separated people have later tried to gain access to their land but have no knowledge of the law and tradition and also no proof of their connection to the land. Therefore, dispossession from land has impacted on the Aborigines because the land plays a major role in their spiritual beliefs. Similarly, separation from Kinship groups has limited the Aboriginal people’s opportunity to express their religion in traditional songs and dances.

The Kinship is a complex system of belonging, relationships and responsibilities within a tribe that are based on the dreaming. Due to the fact that most of Aboriginal tribes had their own language, separation from kinship made it impossible for Aboriginal people to preserve their own language and dreaming stories of their clan (tribe). It is known that each Aboriginal individual has a responsibility within their clan. Many Aborigines as a result of dispossession lost the opportunity to participate in rituals that would gain them acceptance into the clan.

Eventually, Kinship groups had the responsibility for raising and nurturing children even though they were not their biological children. When children were taken away from their clan by the white colonisation, the community lost the responsibility of taking care and nurturing the children and thus, lost the concept of kinship. Another effect of separation from Kinship groups is that the separation prevented individuals from inheriting the traditional parenting skills such as teaching the young their responsibilities and the dreaming stories.

Separation from Kinship can also mean isolation from the ceremonial life. Ceremonies such as initiations or funerals are of a critical importance because they are a part of the Aboriginal life. Without these ceremonies, a person is disconnected to their kinship and their Aboriginal spirituality. This also limited the spread of their beliefs to the next generations. Hence, Kinship separation has led to the loss of spirituality. The so called “Stolen Generations” have also affected the Aboriginal spirituality.

The term “Stolen Generation” refers to the children who were removed from their homes between 1900 and 1972 by the Government and Church missionaries in an attempt to assimilate these children into European society. Most of the children who were taken away lost contact with other Aboriginal people, their culture, beliefs and land. In addition, they also lost their own languages. As a result, the stolen generation found it difficult to restore the connection with their own people and culture. The children were only exposed to white culture, because they were told that their families had rejected them or they were dead.

The contact between the children and families was rarely allowed. This lead to a lack of role models taught the Aboriginal beliefs. Some of the stolen Generation could not pass on the dreaming stories of the ancestral beings to their children, unlike how they were initially taught with their Aboriginal community. Many of the children were exposed to Christianity in its various forms. The children were taught the Christian religion in Christian missions, which undoubtedly contributed to the destruction of aboriginal culture and spirituality. Thus, the removing of the Aboriginal children had impacted on the Aboriginal spirituality.

Therefore, the dispossession from the land, kinship and the stolen Generation has affected the Aboriginal Spirituality. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. http://www. aboriginalheritage. org/history/history/ [ 2 ]. http://www. parliament. nsw. gov. au/prod/web/common. nsf/key/HistoryBeforeEuropeanSettlement [ 3 ]. Religion and Belief system in Australia post-1945 [ 4 ]. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Eddie_Mabo [ 5 ]. http://www. racismnoway. com. au/teaching-resources/factsheets/19. html [ 6 ]. http://www. racismnoway. com. au/teaching-resources/factsheets/19. tml [ 7 ]. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Eddie_Mabo [ 8 ]. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Eddie_Mabo [ 9 ]. Religion and Belief system in Australia post-1945 [ 10 ]. Religion and Belief system in Australia post-1945 [ 11 ]. http://www. aboriginalheritage. org/history/history/ [ 12 ]. Religion and Belief system in Australia post-1945 [ 13 ]. Religion and Belief system in Australia post-1945 [ 14 ]. www. atns. net. au/agreement. asp? EntityID=775 [ 15 ]. http://www. library. uq. edu. au/fryer/1967_referendum/labour. html [ 16 ]. http://www. library. uq. edu. u/fryer/1967_referendum/labour. html [ 17 ]. http://reconciliaction. org. au/nsw/education-kit/land-rights/ [ 18 ]. http://www. library. uq. edu. au/fryer/1967_referendum/labour. html [ 19 ]. :http://www. abs. gov. au/Ausstats/[email protected] nsf/Previousproducts/1301. 0Feature%20Article21995? opendocument [ 20 ]. http://reconciliaction. org. au/nsw/education-kit/land-rights/ [ 21 ]. http://reconciliaction. org. au/nsw/education-kit/land-rights/ [ 22 ]. http://www. library. uq. edu. au/fryer/1967_referendum/labour. html [ 23 ]. http://www. library. uq. edu. au/fryer/1967_referendum/labour. html

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The Jewish Religion and Its Impact on Western Culture

The long, rich history of Judaism gives the western world its shape today. The laws, traditions, culture, and values are directly attributable to Judaism. Judaism most prominently began with the founder of the Hebrews known as Abraham, who began to worship a figure called “Elohim. ” Historically, the teachings of Judaism were also subscribed by nomadic tribes, which settled in present day Palestine, near Mt. Sinai. The people of these tribes did not label themselves as Hebrews, and referred to G-d as the G-d of Abraham.

The beginning of the story came about as G-d promised Abraham a son, and in the course of the events doubting that his old wife could give him a son, he had Ishmael with his maid, Hagar. Later, G-d’s prophecy would be fulfilled with the birth of Isaac, by his wife Sarah. Due to their belief system, the tribe proliferated the idea that Isaac and his descendants were chosen by G-d to carry forward Abraham’s holy ancestry. Isaac was the forefather of what was to become the 12 tribes of Israel. These twelve original tribes were later enslaved for several generations in Egypt. In Egypt, the Jews were persecuted and sold into slavery.

It was not until Moses, a Hebrew, adopted by the pharaoh, realized his duty to release his people from their oppression. He eventually led the people from Egypt into the desert where they wandered for 40 years. Throughout the history of the world, the Jewish people have been persecuted and oppressed because of their religious beliefs and faith. Many groups of people have made Jews their scapegoat. Jews have suffered from years of intolerance because people have not understood what the religion really means. They do not understand where and why the religion began, nor the customs of its people.

For one to understand the great hardships, triumphs, and history of the Jewish people, one must open-mindedly peruse a greater knowledge of the Jewish people and faith, while acknowledging their impact on society today. All Western law is based in part on Judaic Torah observance. A quick look at the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) is a very good summary of most modern law that is followed today, along with the next three chapters in Exodus. Judaism believes in the equality of all people and if these commandments were not made and observed today, the equality of Western law would be replaced by position, power, or money.

Another modern historical tradition adopted by from the Jews is how we eat. What is customary in Western society is a reflection of most of the Judaic dietary law. With the exception of the pig, Western society does not eat what is not contained in kosher law. Owls, mice, rats, and snakes are repugnant to most Westerners and it is a direct result of Jewish culture. A third example can be directly traced to Jewish culture in the way women are treated. Women’s rights were carefully maintained in this ancient culture, and today’s laws giving women equal rights under the law are a byproduct of Judaism.

Unfortunately in today’s world, education is taken for granted, yet Judaism has long maintained education as the highest goal of man in his pursuit of Godliness. After the Babylonian Captivity, it was decreed that all the people should be educated, and this tradition has been passed to Western culture. Other defining characteristics of Western civilization which are influenced by Judaism are the recognition of the importance of each individual. Every person is believed to have worth and to deserve a life of dignity.

In Jewish literature, this idea is first expressed in the first chapter of the first book of the Hebrew Bible, which says that people are created in the image of G-d. Because of this, every person is valuable. This idea was not common in the ancient world, where an individual’s social status often determined one’s importance and value. Also, the idea that trials must be fair is closely connected to belief in the rule of law. The Hebrew Bible and Talmud include numerous statements that emphasize the importance of fair trials and a wide variety of provisions to help ensure that trials are fair.

Many of these provisions became key legal principles in the Western world. Jewish roots of legal principles have even been referenced by the U. S. Supreme Court. Lastly, giving charity is an important value in Western civilization that was not emphasized in most ancient cultures. In Judaism, on the other hand, supporting the needy is obligatory. Judaism has also played a significant role in the development of Western culture because of its unique relationship with Christianity, the dominant religious force in the West.

Although the Christian church drew from other sources as well, its retention of the sacred Scriptures of the synagogue (the Old Testament) as an integral part of its Bible is crucial. Not only was the development of its ideas and doctrines deeply influenced, but it also received an ethical dynamism that constantly overcame an inclination to withdraw into world-denying isolation. It was, however, not only Judaism’s heritage but its persistence that touched Western civilization. The continuing existence of the Jews, even as pariah people, is both a challenge and a warning. Their liberation from the shackles of discrimination, segregation, and rejection at the beginning of the modern era was understood by many to be the touchstone of all human liberty. The two central events of 20th-century Jewish history were the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel. The former was the great tragedy of the Jewish people, while the later was the light of a rebirth, which promised political, cultural, and economic independence.

The rest of the world has been forced to reconsider and reorient its relationship with Judaism and the Jewish people because of these two events. At the same time, the centers of Jewish life have moved almost exclusively to Israel and North America. Along with these developments, theological considerations and practical realities, such as interfaith marriage, have made Jewish religious culture a point of interest for many non-Jews. In the early 21st century, Jewish religious life continued to fragment along ideological lines, but that very fragmentation animated both moral imagination and ritual life.

While ultra-Orthodox Judaism grew narrower, and some varieties of Liberal Judaism moved ritual practice even farther away from traditional observance, a vital center emerged, running from Reform Judaism to modern Orthodoxy. This center sought to understand Judaism within a broader context of interaction with other cultures while leaving the essentials of belief and practice unaffected. Predicting the future of Judaism is not an easy or desirable task, but there is reason to hope that the world will continue to draw upon the religious and cultural traditions of Judaism, both past and present.

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Was the English Civil War a War of Religion?

Was the English Civil War a war of Religion? The English Civil Wars of 1642 to 1651 had religious connections indefinitely, yet to say that they were wars of religion is slightly blindsided. Economics, national and foreign policy and the rule of King Charles I all played pivotal roles in the wars, in particular, the role of the King and his failings to rule. Such failings lost support for the King on a large scale and led to the argument that this was the beginnings of democracy where the people wanted to look elsewhere from the monarchy for a better governed country.

The wars were not fought intently for religion but instead against the monarchy and the dreadful rule of King Charles I for a better led democracy. Such democracy was largely connected and associated with the Parliamentarians who offered opposition to the failing Royalists and hope for change. With the Royalists and the Parliamentarians fighting for power and for leadership of their country, two parties with no major religious qualms were set to go to war.

For the Roundheads, the ultimate desire was not religious but was to “safeguard parliaments place in the constitution from the creeping threat of royal absolutism’ that had seemed to be prevalent since at the least 1626. ” The parliamentarians offering opposition to the Royalists were in a political sense, seen as the answer in the search of democracy through which they gained mass support. However in answering the question, religious connections must be analysed with a mind on the importance to the civil wars.

Importantly, England was a strictly protestant nation after the Reformations of the 16th century and King Charles struggled with Parliament in connection to religion and caused much tension and ill feeling within England. In keeping with his high Anglican faith, the King appointed his main political advisor, William Laud as the new archbishop in 1633. The Protestant people of England accused Laud of Catholicising the Church of England and in turn Laud imposed fines for not attending Anglican Church services.

He aroused further public anger in 1637 by cutting off the ears of three gentlemen who had written pamphlets attacking Laud’s own views. Such strict and brutal behaviour caused fear in the people and alienate Laud’s church. Further still, the marriage of King Charles to the Roman Catholic French princess Henrietta Maria 1625 had previously caused a general fear of Catholicism to emerge in England but this was only built upon by the measures Laud had instigated. Clearly religion did have an impact yet it is the subsequent effects that matter.

These religious matters crucially caused a lack of support for the monarchy and the realisation that the monarchy needed Parliament to govern effectively. The King was blind to this and this forced the people to look elsewhere for democracy. This was the true nature of the war to fight for control and a new democracy. To continue, King Charles the First showed incompetence throughout his rule losing the support of his people gradually but surely. A series of failings displayed his inability to rule yet first and foremost was the manner of King Charles.

Michael Young describes Charles as ‘a stubborn, combative and high-handed king, who generated conflict” whilst Richard Cust continues that “he was not stupid, but he did suffer from what Russell calls ‘a tunnel vision’, which made it very difficult for him to understand anyone’s perspective other than his own. ” Shy and obnoxious, Charles was unwilling to conform to parliament insisting that he was chosen by God to rule in accordance with the doctrine of the “Divine Right of Kings”.

Many parliamentarians feared that setting up a new kingdom as Charles I intended might destroy the old English traditions that had been integral to the English monarchy and its country and this belief from King Charles I of the divine right of kings only exacerbated this. Importantly at this point, parliament was subject to dissolution by the monarchy at any time and they had to weary of this. In all, King Charles was unsuitable to rule England and his character flaws along with his beliefs and reluctance to compromise left him on a one way path to disaster and crucially, unpopularity.

He needed parliament yet he himself did not know it, instead his own policies and decisions would alienate him from the people and would be his very downfall. More so disastrous for his reign than his “indecisive, inadequate and ineffective” personality were the policies of King Charles I. The King wanted to take part in the Thirty Years’ War of Europe at huge costs and with heavy expenditure. Parliament foresaw these impossible costs of the war and refused to support King Charles yet this did not stop the King in pressing ahead with his European Wars.

His conquests continued past the dissolution of parliament into his ‘personal rule’ until he was forced to withdraw from the war making peace with Spain and France; the monarchy’s finances were shattered and the King had dissolved Parliament ending any hopes of financial support from taxes. Here the King demonstrates his naivety with the country sustaining incredible financial troubles with little reward to show for it but most importantly he lost further support of the people. People began to question his ability to rule and began to look elsewhere towards parliament.

Perhaps the clearest indication though that he was unable to rule without parliament came with his 11 year Personal Rule. For 11 years, King Charles avoided calling a parliament during which time he made several crucial mistakes. Most importantly, without Parliament, Charles was left with little revenue and so he looked to other means of income. Controversially, the King tried to implement Ship taxes, exploiting a naval war-scare and demanding tax from inland counties to pay for the Royal Navy.

The tax was questionable at best, supported by law but regarded as an illegal tax; men refused to pay the ship tax and argued that the tax was illegal in court, but most lost and were fined. Further resentment to the King was growing among the English people and again they blamed the Kings lack of parliament and his inability to rule without it. King Charles I foolishly looked to enforce policies in Scotland also. The King had hoped to unite England with Scotland and Ireland to create a single kingdom with a uniform High Anglican church.

This idea scared Parliament with fears of losing traditional English ways evident. Despite this, summer of 1637 saw Charles I interfere with Scottish religion introducing a new high Anglican English book of prayer to the Scottish despite the Church of Scotland having strict traditions. This was duly followed by resistance and riots in Edinburgh followed by a rebellion. Naturally the King responded by leading an army to the Scottish border and challenging the rebellion.

A second war followed in 1640 where embarrassingly King Charles’ forces were defeated by a Scottish army who continued to capture Newcastle; Charles now had a rebellion on his hand but with insufficient finances he could not defend anything of the like, he was forced to form a new parliament and seek the taxes that they brought. The Scottish were demanding ? 850 a day to keep them from advancing and this was all Charles’ own doing in trying to change religion in Scotland. It can be argued as indeed C. Russel does that, “Religion undoubtedly contributed heavily to the outbreak of the Bishops wars.

It contributed to the English defeat in the wars, by building up a party in England whose sympathies were on the Scottish side. ” However these religious disputes were not a direct cause of the civil war rather that once again King Charles had made a mistake and proven his inability to rule without the credible parliament. The people were becoming all too aware of these failings and his delusions. The dislike for King Charles I continued to climb with his ordered execution of Thomas Wentworth May 1641.

The King had sacrificed one of his chief advisors in the hope of preventing war yet it was all in vain. Here his incapability’s had resulted in an execution and the backlash in Ireland was total chaos with the faithful Catholics fearing a protestant resurgence. Further tension between the monarchy and parliament was seen and the King looked very weak at this point. Finally, the end of King Charles of England rule came in 1642, early in which he had attempted to capture five members of the House of Commons.

The King had gone accompanied by 400 soldiers to arrest the five members on charge of treason yet upon arrival at parliament the Speaker refused to reveal the whereabouts of the suspects. Crucially, Lenthall replied “May it please your majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as this house is pleased to direct me whose servant I am here; and humbly beg your majesty’s pardon that I cannot give any other answer than this is to what your majesty is pleased to demand of me” voicing his determined allegiance not the King but to Parliament.

This portrayed the feeling between Parliament and the King and it was only then that the King saw that he had real opposition. Following his latest failing Charles had fled from London in fear of his own safety but continued to negotiate with Parliament through until the summer to no avail. With the summer passing towns and cities began to voice their allegiance for either the Royalists or the Parliamentarians and the war was beginning to emerge. Quite literally King Charles had got it all wrong and had even sparked off a civil war with his attempts to arrest parliament members.

Importantly it was the King’s attempts to arrest members of parliament that sparked the war as opposed to any religious factors or disputes and the Kings incompetent ruling of the country that continued to fuel the civil wars for years to come. In conclusion, the English civil wars on 1642 to 1651 were not wars of religion. Without doubt religion played a role in the distancing between the King to his people and Parliament and also with the Bishops wars, yet it was not integral to the emergence of the war or indeed throughout the war.

Rather the war was a war of power and control with Parliament attempting to provide democracy to the unsatisfied people in contrast to the diabolical failings with the rule of King Charles I. King Charles was incapable of ruling the country, demonstrating his incompetence with endless examples to make the people want for a new democracy and better leadership for their country; and that they did with support for Parliamentarians seen in huge numbers. The Kings failure to rule and govern the country had directly led to intervention from the Parliamentarians and the start of the English civil wars. Word Count – 1920

Bibliography 1. Coward, B. (1980) The Stuart Age; England 1603 – 1714. Pearson Education Limited 2. Cust, R. (2002) ‘Politics, Religion and Popularity’, Charles I and popularity. (ed. ,Cogswell, T. Cust, R. Lake, P. ) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 235 3. De Groot, J. (2004). Royalist identities. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. 4. Hill, C. (1958). Puritanism and revolution: Studies in interpretation of the English revolution of the 17th century. London: Secker ; Warburg. 5. Kishlansky, M. (1999) ‘Tyranny Denied: Charles I, Attorney General Heath, and the Five Knights’ Case. 42: 53 6. Morrill, J. S. (1993). The nature of the English Revolution: Essays. London: Longman. 7. Parliament. uk; Speaker Lenthall defends Parliament against the King. Accessed 27th March 2012. Available from http://www. parliament. uk/business/publications/parliamentary-archives/archives-highlights/archives-speakerlenthall/ 8. Russell, C. (1990) The Causes of the English civil War. Oxford: Clarendon Press 9. Sproxton, J. (1995). Violence and religion: Attitudes towards militancy in the French civil wars and the English Revolution. London ; New York: Routledge. ——————————————- [ 1 ]. Coward, B. (1980) The Stuart Age; England 1603 – 1714. Pearson Education Limited [ 2 ]. Cust, R. (2002) ‘Politics, Religion and Popularity’, Charles I and popularity. (ed. ,Cogswell, T. Cust, R. Lake, P. ) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 235 [ 3 ]. Cust, R. (2002) ‘Politics, Religion and Popularity’, Charles I and popularity. (ed. ,Cogswell, T. Cust, R. Lake, P. ) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 235 [ 4 ]. Kishlansky, M. (1999) ‘Tyranny Denied: Charles I, Attorney General Heath, and the Five

Categories
Free Essays

New Age Music and Religion

New Age music was first introduced in 1964, when Tony Scott recorded “Music for Zen Meditation.” In the years that followed this impressionistic music became popular in California, but was not sold nationally until the 1980s. Windam Hill is the largest producer of New Age music, grossing some thirty million dollars in 1987, but many competitors have recently come into the market. There is a wide variety in style of New Age music, but very often it is dreamy music associated with nature. Typical would be that of Paul Winter who on his saxophone accompanies the sounds of humpback whales, timber wolves, and eagles – letting them “create” the melody. Other New Age music features the sounds of waterfalls, ocean waves, and crickets (Rhodes: 133).

But despite the increasing support of many people to New Age music, its critics also have their own arguments about it. What is New Age music really about and what are the critics’ arguments about its association to religion? All of these and more are discussed as we go along the context.

Reflection and Assessment

Because it is much a decentralized movement, it is difficult to assess the impact of New Age. There is no doubt that it has already has a powerful influence on Western society, but its future is impossible to predict. Is it a passing fad that will be largely forgotten in decades to come, or is it a movement that has only just begun to gain momentum? In reference, Brooks Alexander writes in Christianity Today: “Is this just another diversion of New Age, or is it something more enduring?” There are many “faddish” characteristics of the movement, but fads have sometimes developed into time-honored traditions (Kemp:135).

Indeed, there are many signs that New Age on the whole is gaining a powerful foothold in society that will not quickly pass away. This position is gaining credibility among secular scholars. According to Carl A. Raschke, a religion professor at the University of Denver and a student of the movement, New Age is “the most powerful social force in the country today” (Tucker: 351).

New Age Critics

By the early 1990s, there was a myriad of Christian critiques of New Age. New Age had replaced ’secular humanism’ as the enemy of traditional Christians. Other Christian anti-New Age works include Douglas Groothuis’ three-part series beginning with Unmasking the New Age (1986) and Walter Martin’s The New Age Cult (1989) (Kemp:135). Innocuous ‘New Age music’ is also condemned for encouraging people to reflect on religion and culture that is not explicitly Christian. John Newport, for example, insists that it is ‘…satanically inspired… [and thus] theologically wrong in its roots and in the effects it hopes to achieve’ (Partridge: 255).

The mainstream churches have tended to be less overtly hostile in their official responses to New Age than some of the smaller the innovative approach to spirituality. However, their knowledge of New Age is often based on works by Evangelical or fundamentalist Christians and is strongly colored by them (Kemp: 135).

New Age Perspective

There is a strong spiritual dimension to the New Age. It is not only interested in contemporary philosophies but in ancient wisdom, drawing in an eclectic way from Eastern and Western spiritual-religious traditions, with a contemporary blend of psychology and ecology and a profound interest in such things as metaphysics and sacred geometry. Some New Age movements foster a mystical approach. It can fit within the category of non religious spiritualities, and for some adherents it is like an alternative to religion. For others, New Age practices harmonize with their religious beliefs (Wilber: 348).

The New Age is particularly concerned with lifestyle and health. It means a range of human needs from immediate wellbeing to a sense of connectedness with others and the world, and to meaning in life. It also has a commercial dimension catering to consumer spirituality; some practices at the market end of the New Age can be regarded as part of the self-help industry (Tucker: 350).

The literature on New Age highlights diversity and spirituality. While beyond our scope here, an appraisal of the spiritual scope of New Age remains an important part of any critical exploration of the contemporary spirituality that affects young people (Kemp: 134).

The New Age is mainly an adult and young adult interest. Nevertheless, adolescents and children will be inquisitive about it when they encounter it in the culture. They may well try some practices as part of their experimentation in identity and spirituality. What is likely to appeal to young people is the fluid and non-institutional appearance of the New Age; it does not prescribe beliefs but is based on individuals piecing together their own spirituality to suit their needs and interests. Also attractive would be its existential and lifestyle focus, and its holistic notion of the integration of mind-body-spirit (Crawford and Rossiter: 223).

Summary and Conclusion

Certain critics may not agree with the music of New Age but it doesn’t deny the fact that a lot of people also patronize the music. Personally, I think New Age music soothes someone’s mood and relaxes a tired mind. Association to religion is optional and should not make other people get bothered about the idea. It’s just a matter of opinion, whether or not to accept New Age music or not.

Works Cited:

Crawford, Marisa, and Graham Rossiter. Reasons for Living: Education and Young People’s Search for Meaning, Identity and Spirituality. A Handbook. Camberwell, Victoria: Aust Council for Ed Research, 2006.

Kemp, Daren. New Age: A Guide : Alternative Spiritualities from Aquarian Conspiracy To. George Square, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.

Partridge, Christopher H. The Re-Enchantment of the West: Alternative Spiritualities, Sacralization, Popular Culture, and Occulture. Vol. 2. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005.

Rhodes, Ron. The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions: The Essential Guide to Their Doctrine, and Our Response. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2001.

Tucker, Ruth. Another Gospel: Alternative Religions and the New Age Movement. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1989.

Wilber, Ken. Up from Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution. Wheaton, Illinois: Quest Books, 1996.