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Chapter 3 - Chapter 3 religion and politics In the 1960s...

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Chapter 3: religion and politics In the 1960s, one of America’s Protestant theologians, Harvey Cox, did not predict the demise of religion, but that its form would change. This included its historical roles in politics and other forms of public life. Social scientists at the time were predicting the same thing. In the Third World, though, religion remained very pervasive at the secularization of society seems inevitable. For example, and Latin America, the Catholic Church lost some of its control over the education system. In India, the government outlawed caste system, but was still cornerstone of Hindu religious practice. In the Middle East countries such as Egypt, Iraq and Syria created more secular political systems. Donald Smith, a leading authority stated that political development includes as one of its basic processes, the secularization of politics and exclusion of religion from the political system. Early modernization theorists saw religion as a barrier to political and economic development. Dependency theorists saw religion is basically unimportant. But since the time of Smith. There has been a resurgence of religion as a political force. Since the 1970s, much of the Third World as well as the developed world have experienced a religious resurgence and the increased role of religion in politics. Interestingly enough, in the Middle East, religious leaders who originally opposed modernization now use it – radio, TV, the Internet. The change is very apparent in the Middle East and parts of Asia, for Islamic fundamentalism has had a great political impact in Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. From the 1979 hostage taking in Iranto the September 11 attacks, Western attention has focused more and more on religion and politics. The meeting of church and state
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Many of the concerns about religion and politics come from serious misunderstandings, both about own government and about political systems elsewhere. In the United States, we except the separation between church and state as normal and natural. But in many democracies, and LDCs that barrier does not exist. There are many examples in the US of religious organizations and beliefs having political influence. Black Baptist churches during the civil rights movement and the Republican Party being influenced by the Christian right are examples. Most Western European nations don’t have walls between religion and politics In Britain for example, the Anglican Church is the official state religion. In Italy, Catholic Church has been closely link to the Christian Democratic Party. And religion is even more firmly entrenched in most third world cultures and there is a greater impact on politics than in the US. Sometimes we even identify cultures by their predominant religion – the Buddhist culture in Thailand, Confucian culture in China and Korea, and Hindu culture in India, as well as Islamic culture in North Africa and the Middle East.
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