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Featured Is Politics the New Religion?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Left Coast, May 16, 2021.

  1. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    Hey RF!

    I wanted to share an op-ed from the Christian Science Monitor that I think is pretty even-handed and asks a fascinating question that will interest folks from all across the political and religious landscapes:

    Is politics the new religion?

    I think politics and religion have honestly been intertwined as long as they've been around, so I'm not sure this is entirely "new." However, it does seem like as Americans have become increasingly polarized (and less formally religious) in recent years that we often approach politics with a kind of religious zeal and dogmatism. We view those who don't think like us as evil, we listen to sources that simply reinforce our own beliefs, and we regard our view as "The Truth" and refuse to even consider that we may be wrong.

    I'm generalizing of course, but I hope you see what I mean.

    What are your thoughts? Is politics a kind of religion for people? Is this good, bad, something in between?
     
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  2. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    there are FOUR motivations

    religion
    politics
    military
    economy

    what motivates you?
     
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  3. MatthewA

    MatthewA Active Member

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    Hello Left Coast,

    Maybe for some, but it is hard to really tell.

    My stance is not to get really heavily involved with politics because it doesn't seem like anything that can be done about it anyway. So would rather just focus on the here, and now moments of life, rather than trying to find a solution to an outcome when it comes to government decisions; though am very thankful we do have people out there who are politically inclined, and they get things done behind the scenes.

    As far as people making a religion out of it?

    People can yes, I do believe so, as human beings believe we are all come from different backgrounds growing up *Edit: though we have one thing in common; that is the fact of our life we breath in; and that we all bleed the same color, and all have emotions, and thoughts, and wills.

    Anyone else have any thoughts, and opinions on this topic?
     
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  4. Dan From Smithville

    Dan From Smithville Veteran Member
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    Thanks for the article. I found it interesting and informative on what I have been observing over the years. I tend to agree and the religiosity of some political trends has been a developing conclusion for me.
     
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  5. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    Hey Matthew,

    Do you think your view here would be different if you weren't a Christian? Also, are you an American?
     
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  6. Altfish

    Altfish Veteran Member

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    If you mean is politics another division in society ... then yes.
     
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  7. MatthewA

    MatthewA Active Member

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    If I was not a Christian: Would still not get involved with politics. Do not believe nationality would effect me either: If the hypothetical question is retaining the idea that I have the same soul as the other nationality. Thank you for the question!

    What are your thoughts about the subject?
     
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  8. cataway

    cataway Well-Known Member

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    it was foretold a long time ago of the reverence given and expected
    15 And it was permitted to give breath to the image of the wild beast, so that the image of the wild beast should both speak and cause to be killed all those who refuse to worship the image of the wild beast.
    16 It puts under compulsion all people—the small and the great, the rich and the poor, the free and the slaves—that these should be marked on their right hand or on their forehead, 17 and that nobody can buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name.
     
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  9. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    Even the idea that they can be separate is relatively recent and culturally contingent.

    For psychological well-being, almost all people need to think they are part of something bigger than themselves, and with the decline of religion in many places, identities formed around political positions often fill the void.

    As to why people take increasingly extreme positions (very much amplified via social media as that is pure signalling without any 'real life' to get in the way), something that is relevant:

    The primary function that drove the evolution of coalitions is the amplification of the power of its members in conflicts with non-members. This function explains a number of otherwise puzzling phenomena. For example, ancestrally, if you had no coalition you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, preexisting and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership. This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird. Since coalitional programs evolved to promote the self-interest of the coalition’s membership (in dominance, status, legitimacy, resources, moral force, etc.), even coalitions whose organizing ideology originates (ostensibly) to promote human welfare often slide into the most extreme forms of oppression, in complete contradiction to the putative values of the group...

    Moreover, to earn membership in a group you must send signals that clearly indicate that you differentially support it, compared to rival groups. Hence, optimal weighting of beliefs and communications in the individual mind will make it feel good to think and express content conforming to and flattering to one’s group’s shared beliefs and to attack and misrepresent rival groups. The more biased away from neutral truth, the better the communication functions to affirm coalitional identity, generating polarization in excess of actual policy disagreements. Communications of practical and functional truths are generally useless as differential signals, because any honest person might say them regardless of coalitional loyalty. In contrast, unusual, exaggerated beliefs—such as supernatural beliefs (e.g., god is three persons but also one person), alarmism, conspiracies, or hyperbolic comparisons—are unlikely to be said except as expressive of identity, because there is no external reality to motivate nonmembers to speak absurdities.

    This raises a problem for scientists: Coalition-mindedness makes everyone, including scientists, far stupider in coalitional collectivities than as individuals. Paradoxically, a political party united by supernatural beliefs can revise its beliefs about economics or climate without revisers being bad coalition members. But people whose coalitional membership is constituted by their shared adherence to “rational,” scientific propositions have a problem when—as is generally the case—new information arises which requires belief revision. To question or disagree with coalitional precepts, even for rational reasons, makes one a bad and immoral coalition member—at risk of losing job offers, one's friends, and one's cherished group identity. This freezes belief revision.


    Forming coalitions around scientific or factual questions is disastrous, because it pits our urge for scientific truth-seeking against the nearly insuperable human appetite to be a good coalition member. Once scientific propositions are moralized, the scientific process is wounded, often fatally. No one is behaving either ethically or scientifically who does not make the best case possible for rival theories with which one disagrees.

    What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known? - Coalitional Instincts
    John Tooby



    It is absolutely terrible and unsustainable in the long run.

    What is needed is to create an inclusive identity that people can agree they all belong to, which is why the end of the Cold War helped unleash some of these forced, without a common 'that's what we are not', then 'that's what we are not' becomes each other.

    While it gets a bad rep (justifiably), nationalism is a unifying factor, as is a common religion.

    Personally, I'm very much in favour of highly decentralised localism, and imo a local identity can be both highly inclusive and a bulwark against the petty, abstract quarrels that dominate national and international politics as everyone has a clear common good that is reflected in their day-to-day reality.
     
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  10. beenherebeforeagain

    beenherebeforeagain Rogue Animist
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    I think there are many more motivations, but among the major ones are:

    -a need for affiliation, belonging to a social group
    -a need for achievement
    -a need for power over others
    -a need for autonomy from others

    These motivations occur in every society and indeed every individual, and in relation to every societal institution, e.g. religion, politics, military, etc.
     
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  11. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise
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    Imo, US politics has become more and more divided. But I’m saying that as an outsider, so I guess take that with a grain of salt.

    Here politics seems more like a sport at times. You do get “one eyed supporters” but you also get people who just like to argue for the fun of it. That said, when major issues arise for voting I am often caught off guard. With vitriol coming from unexpected places. So maybe we are more divided than we like to admit. Then again when the votes were cast the vitriol ceased. So maybe we’re used to just moving on with life, idk
    Case in point when we voted on SSM. Most people I knew were sort of “meh” about it. As in they just sort of supported it because why not. But the amount of severe homophobic rants that came from otherwise placid and seemingly chill people shocked me. Though it did seem to strengthen the conviction of others around me. So I guess it inadvertently did some good
     
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  12. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue The gentle embrace of twilight has become my guide

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    I think so. Both religion and politics deal with power and influence.
     
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  13. JustGeorge

    JustGeorge Well-Known Member
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    Yes...

    I spent a few years in a UU church. I'm a political independent, though the UUs are quite far left. I learned quickly to keep my mouth shut(something I seldom do), and often left services feeling like a 'sinner'.

    I don't care much for it. Rather than holding different ideologies, people see others as holding 'incorrect' ideologies, and only their political party has 'the truth'. Another thing is, a religious person puts their faith in some kind of divine presence(for lack of a better term). A political person puts their faith in a human being. While the nature of God can be debated, its easy to see that many politicians on all sides of the spectrum can be corrupt.

    There is the nature of the arguments, as well. Honestly, it does not matter if human beings evolved or if we were poofed here by God. I cannot express how little this matters in how we live our lives. However, the debates we currently have over politics are no longer 'is this or that legally right', they're laced with conspiracies on whether things did or didn't happen. My husband briefly got into conspiracies as a younger man(thankfully before the Trump era), and while he was doing it, he saw symbols from 'the enemy' everywhere, and every person was a potential threat, working for some nefarious figure. What an awful way to live life...
     
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  14. KerimF

    KerimF Active Member

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    Yes, and it has the greatest number of believers on Earth; thanks to the billions of audio-visual monitors which are seen by the great majority in the world as a very trusted source of truth!

    After all, Politics is supposed to be the 'Art of Deceiving' the multitudes to let them serve the powerful rich dreamers without complains.
     
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  15. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    I attended a UU congregation in my area for several months a while back as well. I was struck first of all by how many of the members were white Boomers (not unlike a mainline Christian church), and also I remember thinking that I had never seen so many Bernie stickers in one parking lot! :tearsofjoy:
     
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  16. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    Politicians have co-opted the biases of religion and used them to control religious voters to their own advantage for many years. So that by now, the religious community has internalized these politically co-opted biases as their own biases. As being one and the same. So much so that to be a "religious Christian" is not only to be religiously biased, but to be politically biased, too. That bias has become a unified singular meme.
     
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  17. JustGeorge

    JustGeorge Well-Known Member
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    Sounds just like the congregation here! Though the Bernie stickers changed to Hilary stickers, and that was the time we left. Not because of the stickers directly. We had made a year commitment to teaching the youth 'religious service' class, which for some unknown reason no one else would teach(the teens were intelligent, insightful and fun, unlike much of the rest of the place), and the lesson ended early one day(around the Trump/Clinton election time). We went downstairs to hear the tail end of the service.... to hear the Reverand begging people to vote for Clinton from the pulpit. Please understand, I am far from being a Trump supporter, but this was highly inappropriate(and illegal), and my husband wanted to quit right then and there, but I made him stick it out for the rest of the year for the kids...

    We felt a religious community should have been a place of refuge from the political nonsense that was going on at that time(and continues), not another place where people 'take sides'.
     
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  18. ideogenous_mover

    ideogenous_mover Well-Known Member

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    I think we have to identify what is going on first.. Is it religion that is informing politics, or are political views becoming a religion?
     
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  19. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    I have felt something similar in attending the very progressive Methodist church that my partner is part of. Although I applaud their welcoming and affirming stance on LGBTQ+ folks, and their advocacy for poor and marginalized groups in society, it started to annoy me a while ago that sermons were constantly centered around politics and the news of the day. Not that those issues are unimportant, but I have wished that they would focus on more perennial topics like...how to be a better person? How to be more patient, kind, loving to the people in my life? How to forgive people who have done wrong? How to be less anxious or depressed and more mindful? I can get political commentary and advocacy so many other places.
     
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  20. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    I think historically it's been the former, and in more recent times it's become the latter.
     
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