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Essay, Paragraph or Speech on “Can Religion and Politics Co-Exist?” Complete Essay, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Can Religion and Politics Co-Exist?

On the outer margins of the debate over the place of religion in politics, there are two extreme positions, each fuelling the fundamentalism of the other. Now, religions do not advocate suicide bombing, though there is no doubt that many abuses are carried out in the name of religion. And religions do not need to be theocratic: They can easily co-exist with secular forms of government without attracting divine retribution.

Despite the separation of church and state in India, religion and politics in this country have long influenced one another in ways direct and indirect.

Contemporary analysts too frequently assume that the mutually fructifying influence between religion and politics either no longer exists or is deeply problematic. Their mistake is a result of focusing too narrowly on the recent constitutional trend toward strengthening the separation of church and state, rather than looking more broadly at the worlds of religion and politics as they actually intersect, and mutually flourish today. That church and state in India are in fact separate means that ours is a secular government but it does not mean that ours is a secular society. It isn’t now. It has never been.

In fact, the terrain on which religion and politics have most often met in Indian history is the realm of non-state institutions we call civil society, In every aspect of human endeavour, faith matters to people and to particular communities, and, when as citizens these people and communities participate in politics, to the nation at large.

These facts suggest a logic for religious engagement in the civic realm that clashes with a dominant strand of argument in academic philosophy that, although prominent in scholarly debates, has very little to do with how people actually talk and act. The academic philosophers insist that the convictions of the religious need to be translated into a purely secular idiom if the faithful are to join in political deliberation. If the religiously minded are not comfortable translating their convictions into such a secular idiom, they had best remain silent.

Some versions of this argument for example, that associated with the late John Rawls–are subtle and complex. Others are much simpler. They assume that there is a single vocabulary for political discussion; if your speech lies out side the purview of a secular language of ‘public deliberation,’ it isn’t legitimately public speech at all.

The draconian requirement that a purely secular mode of speech supplant all other ways of making public argument cuts against the grain of American political history and civic culture. In the real world of religion and politics as they actually coexist in America, citizens resort to ‘god talk’ at least as much as they use ‘rights talk.’ Faith informs the way America speaks and has always spoken. The U.S. Constitution never required that people re up the communal dimensions of their faith as the price for civic admission.

Catholics, Lutherans, Jews–all built networks of schools and charitable institutions. Jews, in particular, distinguished themselves publicly through visible markers of their identity in dress and in dietary regulations. Even a cursory glance at our history shows the manner in which confessional pluralism and social pluralism have been linked in the American polity as religious differences were marked publicly through a variety of modes of communal identification. One reason that America’s religious institutions are such an indispensable part of American civil society is that religion in America has never been compelled to privatize itself along the lines suggested by Rawls.

For the first 150 years of the American republic, primary responsibility for religious rights and liberties was lodged in the states. No federal law governing religious institutions in their relation to the government was ever passed. The federal government got into the act where religion is concerned–at least in a big way–only during the last half century. In recent years, a constitutional position has emerged that might be called strong separationism. This position seeks to do on the level of law what a strict version of Rawlsian philosophy aims to do in the realm of discourse-namely, to strip public life of religious markers, emblems, and ceremony.

This position can be called as liberal monism, for its origins lie in certain strands of classical liberal political philosophy. This position holds that all institutions within a democratic society must conform to a single authority principle; a single standard of what counts as reason and deliberation; a single vocabulary of political discussion. Within this position, religion is routinely discounted-as the secularization hypothesis would have it–as irrationalism, or as a search for epistemological privilege.

The Real Questions Raised

Rather than asking how much religion can, or should, the polity tolerate, we might pose a different question instead: What sort of political arrangements “enable religion to play the constructive public role that religious commitments themselves demand?”

 One enters political life as a citizen. But if one also has religious convictions, these convictions naturally will inform one’s judgements as a citizen. My religious views help to determine who I am, how I think, and what I care about. This is as it should be. In India it makes no sense to ask people to bracket what they care about most deeply when they debate issues that are properly political.

Religion has served as a valuable anchor in the lives of millions of people since the founding of our republic. It is said that India is the most religious of the major industrializing states. We have religions that believe in the use of hallucinogens ; religions that believe that your money should be theirs ; many religions that believe that they are the chosen people and the rest of us are toast; religions that are proud of the objectification of women; religions that worship animals and others that worship plants. We have Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Jews, Buddhists, Christian Scientists and many more. If you want to divine the future by reading the entrails of a liberal, knock yourself out. We have so many different religions in this country that if you can’t find one that you like then you ain’t trying! And if you don’t find one, make up your own. In itself that idea neither paralyzes me with fear nor rejoices me. If religion is what it takes to help you get through your life, then more power to you, brother.

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