Religion and Politics: Perception & Belief


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By looking at the relation between beliefs and politics we can begin to see how religious beliefs often take on a political nature – sometimes violent and sometimes peaceful. We can also begin to see how often these beliefs develop because of a vacuum in the secular world.

As a way of illustrating this Dr Alexandre Christoyannopoulos explored with us “Christian Anarchism” because it highlights many of these points.

Talk of religion and politics tends to conjure up images and memories of religious intolerance and political violence, especially if the word 'radical' is added in. Yet many religious radicals are non-violent.
Gandhi, for instance, was a strictly non-violent religious and political radical. What few people know is that his inspiration for this strict non-violence was Christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy.

These slides are associated with a webinar where we discussede nonviolent religious radicalism using Tolstoy and others Christian anarchists as a starting point in order to reflect more broadly on the interaction of religion and politics, on where that leaves the intentions of secularism, and on why nonviolent activism tends to be eclipsed by violent alternatives.

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Religion and Politics: Perception & Belief

  1. 1. Religion and PoliticsRadical Non-violent Responses (25 Feb 12)
  2. 2. Religion & politics• Religion often politically conservative, but has also inspired rebellion• Disruptive because relativises human institutions• Every religion has long traditions of reformers and ‘protestants’ (16 Feb 12)
  3. 3. Christian ‘anarchism’? • In a nutshell: political arrangement implied in ‘Christianity’ = ‘anarchism’ • Main figures: Tolstoy, Ellul, Day & Catholic Workers,, etc;; (25 Feb 12); (10/4/12)
  4. 4. Sermon on the Mount• Clear moral teaching• Addressed to would-be followers• Don’t resist evil, turn other cheek, go extra mile• Don’t judge but forgive (adulteress)• Don’t swear oaths (be truthful)• Don’t hate but love enemies (good Samaritan) (10/4/12);
  5. 5. Political subversion• Jesus calls to: – challenge political, economic, religious institutions – exemplify alternative political relations• Arrested & crucified• Hence: public, political, subversive but not violent (10/4/12)
  6. 6. ‘Secularisation’ & ‘resurgence’ of religion in politics• Enlightenment expectation of ‘secularisation’ (separation of religion & politics)• But: ‘resurgence’ of religion on politics since 1970s• Why? – Religion source of basic values & ethics – Linked with ethnicity & culture – Apparent failure of secular ideologies (26 Apr 12)
  7. 7. Non-violence and violence• Many past & present non- violent religious struggles (Tolstoy, Gandhi, Ploughshares)• Violent equivalents more visible: spectacular hence higher audiences (19 Dec 10)
  8. 8. Concluding quote...“What a fine place this worldwould be if FundamentalistProtestants tried toexemplifythe Sermon on the Mount.” – Peter Maurin, Easy Essays (26 Apr 12)
  9. 9. Dr Alexandre Christoyannopoulos Loughborough University to many openly accessible publications)