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Featured To what extent should religion promote democracy?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by adrian009, Feb 14, 2020.

?
  1. Completely

    20.0%
  2. Not at all

    46.7%
  3. Somewhat

    6.7%
  4. This poll doesn’t reflect my thoughts

    26.7%
  1. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    The last two hundred years have seen a profound change in the governance of human affairs with the ascendancy of democracy, human rights and freedom. These are important ideals that can easily be taken for granted. In many parts of the world the majority of people don’t have a voice or the opportunity to elect those who would represent them. It can be dangerous to speak out against injustice.

    In this thread I wish to examine the extent to which each of our faiths promotes the ideals of democracy within our communities. In other words are democratic ideals important enough to model in our faith communities? Are there aspects of our faith communities where democratic institutions may exemplify more noble principles compared to secular institutions?

    Democracy is of fundamental importance in my religion, the Baha’i Faith. Every year we attend gatherings to elect Local and National Assemblys. These institutions are invested with the authority to govern our communities alongside the responsibility to consult with our communities and consider the thoughts of individual members.

    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the early twentieth century taught:
    Do not yield to the overwhelming power of tyranny and despotism. Serve the cause of democracy and freedom. Continue your journey to the end. The bright day is coming. The nucleus of the new race is forming. The harbinger of the new ideals of international justice is appearing.

    How about your faith? How important is democracy and why?
     
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  2. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    I'm a big fan of democracy, justice and personal freedom and I give kudos to every religion that has those ideas implemented. But I wouldn't demand it. If any group wants to have a strict hierarchy or authoritarianism, that's on them - just let those who don't want to participate (any more) out without retribution.
    And when it comes to promoting religious ideas, even the good ones, I'm against it. It would be hypocritical to allow the religions with the "good" ideas influence into secular society while demonising the ones with "bad" ideas. We either have a separation of church and state or we don't.
     
  3. dfnj

    dfnj Well-Known Member

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    Any system of government that promotes egalitarianism is good in my book. People need to be protected from bullies, thugs, and corporations. Government is the only thing we can turn to strong enough for protection. A 1936 speech by FDR at the Democrat National Convention are MORE true today than when he spoke them:

    "An old English judge once said: 'Necessitous men are not free men.' Liberty requires opportunity to make a living - a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.

    For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor - other people's lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.

    Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of government."

    The problem is the Bible seems to promote slavery or at least imply slavery is morally okay:

    “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” (1 Peter 2:18)

    I cannot accept the idea slavery of any kind is morally okay. It's more than a question of faith. If you have a priceless piece of art in your home. And you pick it up and carry it across the room you do so with the greatest amount of reverence and respect for the piece. I think this is the way we should treat each other. This goes well beyond the golden rule. We should treat each other as the most sacred object we will ever encounter in our lives. We should treat each person in our lives no matter how cruel and evil they may be as a sacred piece of priceless art to be handled with the greatest amount of reverence and respect we are capable of giving.

    Democracy is a way for people to be treated better by government and society. So democracy is very important. Unless of course, you believe people need to be ruled:



    "Is this not your natural state?" I don't think so. I think our natural state is we are all equal in the eyes of God with no conditions no matter what. The one true God is a God of unconditional love and acceptance. There are no chosen people. Everyone is of equal worth in the eyes of God.
     
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  4. dfnj

    dfnj Well-Known Member

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    I'm not a big fan of Bill Cooper but his ideas on separation of church and state are spot on in my opinion:



    According to Bill, there is only one thing that unites us as Americans. And that is "freedom".
     
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  5. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    We’re all influenced by the world we inhabit, whether we choose to or not. Everywhere a materialistic ideology along with consumerism has a grip. None of us live in a vacuum. So we inevitably make choices about what influences us or we take a default position where we’re influenced by the prevailing culture. That could have be a good or bad thing depending on how good or bad our culture is.

    Being in a faith community that promotes democratic ideals as its modus operandi is very different from a religion superseding the government of the state. That is called a theocracy and it is inconceivable that any religion in the Western world would take that role, the Baha’i Faith included.
     
  6. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    There has been a great deal of progress in the past two centuries. Prior to WWI most of the world was part of one of the European colonies. After world II that had broken down but the power vacuum left many countries vulnerable. However democratic has taken firm root in the majority of countries. There does appear to be greater freedom and opportunity as barriers of race, gender and class are lessened. So across the globe we’re seeing prosperity increasing along with life expectancy and educational levels. A huge part of that has come about through greater access to education and health systems.

    Obviously we’re far from perfect. There’s rising disparities between the wealthy and poor and a different type of economic exploitation has taken root.

    Slavery was an inevitable part of the social order in most places up until about two hundred years ago and with the rise of democratic and human rights movements slavery has no place. The fundamental oneness of humanity, the need to build equality and justice between all peoples are actually moral imperatives that need to be at the heart of any religion if its to remain relevant in the twenty first century.

    The virtues such as love, justice and compassion taught in all religions need to be extended much more broadly than they have in the past.

    I agree. Thanks for your post.
     
  7. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    Yes, and a religious group has all the rights to promote their values to their constituency, with no exception within their church and to the same extend as everybody else in public. There are however limits. The government should not interfere in internal affairs of the churches and the churches should not interfere into government. And there has to be some special protection for minority groups where one church has a quasi monopole on public influence or is itself a minority.
     
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  8. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    Christianity should not get involved on politics, and not until they have their own house in order should they even consider democracy!
     
  9. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    Depends on how controlling the religion in question is.
     
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  10. Maximus

    Maximus the Confessor

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    I would rather have the Pope in charge of the world than what we have now. What good is "democracy" doing us now (of course no pure democracy exists, thank God)?
     
  11. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    So for governance of the religion's own internal affairs? Presumably, whatever method should be aligned with the religion's own beliefs.

    I've always kinda liked the Quaker approach to their business: they pray.

    At their "meetings for worship for business," everyone at the meeting prays and tries to open their hearts to God's will.

    If everyone present agrees as to what God's will is, then that's what they do. If they can't achieve consensus - even if only because of a single dissenter - then the item gets deferred to the next meeting, where they try to get consensus again.
     
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  12. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Well-Known Member

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    The problem is that democracy is common and religion individual. We in common shall not in a democracy tell people what they Should individually believe. If we do that, then it is not a democracy.
     
  13. pcarl

    pcarl Well-Known Member

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    The Church itself is neither a democracy nor a debating society. However it does promote social justice throughout the world.
     
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  14. osgart

    osgart Nothing my eye, Something for sure

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    Let each person govern themselves fully according to the laws of their own convictions provided that those convictions do no harm to others. And let free will with consent be the means of relations of any kind.

    Do no harm to others of course means there must be agreed upon laws that govern us all. Secular law is the best available law to keep a democratic republic in the current world.

    And so we come to tolerance of differences and conflicts of interest, and mutual concerns and necessities.

    What religion teaches tolerance, or celebration of differences which is vital to a democracy?

    Religion teaches conformity and exclusion of non conformists.
     
    #14 osgart, Feb 14, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
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  15. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    That doesn’t answer the question though your response is interesting and unexpected. Presuming you are Catholic then I’m interested to know to what extent is democracy part of the Catholic Church. The Pope is elected, is he not. What other parts of the Catholic administration have elections?

    Do you seriously believe democracy does no good and we would be better off with a theocracy? The Catholic Church had centuries of temporal power as the Holy Roman Empire. How did that work out? Is that something anyone would want to see resurrected in the twenty first century as a solution to the world’s problems? What would the Holy Roman Empire bring to the table of governance that is lacking now?
     
  16. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I agree the Catholic Church promotes social justice in the world, but isn’t democracy an essential part of a just society? Are there any elements of democracy within the Catholic Church?
     
  17. Landon Caeli

    Landon Caeli ~◇~

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    Religion, science and politics should remain separate, unrelated ideologies lest one chooses to be like Islam, where everything is mushed together into a whole-life plan, where everything is layed out beforehand, where people are like cattle, just living to serve their predetermined purpose by some older dead people from a previous generation.
     
  18. Landon Caeli

    Landon Caeli ~◇~

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    Personally, I've always been at odds with Catholic Social Teaching.

    ...It's essentially a collection of old statements by previous popes comprised into one modernized ideology, which I see as kind of like a Frankenstein creation, brought back to life.

    ...We have a current Pope. For this time. :cool:
     
  19. Maximus

    Maximus the Confessor

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    Yes the Pope is elected but by the College of Cardinals so I would not call that democracy really.

    I am not saying representative democracy cannot do good. I am saying I think it is overrated. And how does the world look to you right now? How much good did voting do in 2016 in the US? I would gladly submit to the Pope rather than have Donald Trump as President. Have you read what he (the Pope) has written on the evils of Capitalism? The need to protect the poor and all of Creation? I hear nothing like this from "democratically elected" leaders.
     
  20. Landon Caeli

    Landon Caeli ~◇~

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    But, but, but... Broadband in every household..! ;)
     
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