Should Religion Play a Role In Politics

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Should Religion Play a Role in Politics? My view is that, in theory, religion should have no place at all in politics. Roughly, the idea is that religion concerns the private sphere: what pertains to me as an individual. Political life, by contrast, concerns the public sphere: what pertains to me as a member of a wider community (a city, state or nation) of individuals with diverse views on issues such as religion. This distinction seems necessary once we realize the hatred and violence historically associated with religious disagreements. Unless we simply agree to disagree about matters of such intense division, there is little hope of sustaining a civil society. However, in practice, I can see that religion does play a role in politics. One example is that, even in a secular state, a government official may be influenced by his/her religious belief when making decisions on issues such as abortion and assisted dying. Another example is that voters in elections may decide which candidate to vote for according to his/her religion. This type of role of religion in politics appears to be legitimate and, I believe, would never go away. In addition, religion is often seen to enter our public political debate primarily as a voice on certain moral issues. I think this type of role of religion in politics should be welcomed because different groups of citizens could accept the same conclusions from quite different arguments. So religion should be a private affair having nothing to do with the public affairs. However, there is no objection in principle to religious arguments in political debates. If religion stands for moral qualities like love of truth, love for human beings, it would moralise

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