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Old 09-08-2017, 02:35 PM   #1
We have to go back, Kate!
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Yorkshire
Posts: 25,400
Religion in politics

This article about a politician's comments 'igniting a fresh row over abortion' (very much overstating the situation, I think) offers an interesting look at the different ways that religious beliefs in politics are viewed in the UK and US:

I thought this was an interesting point:

In the US, being against abortion is a standard position for Republican politicians and a reliable dividing line with the Democrats, although the issue of exemptions for rape and incest is a highly sensitive one.

It still causes controversy when someone running for office voices their opposition to such exemptions, as Republican hopeful Marco Rubio did last year.

But American politicians are expected to be upfront about their religious beliefs and take a position on moral issues that in the UK tend to be seen as personal matters.
What I find intriguing about that is the expectations each body politic has of its elected officials and candidates. I tend just to see US politicians as either, so deeply religious that they found their politics on religion or pandering to a religious base. What I haven't really taken account of is the cultural expectation of them to engage in moral and spiritual leadership as part of their role.

It's kind of counterintuitive - the US system has a much sharper separation between church and state, yet religion is much more deeply entwined with politics. The UK has a church as a fundamental part of the state (represented in the House of Lords and the Queen's position as head of the church ) - but religion has a much less overt presence in politics.

Maybe by separating church and state, a need is created for the state to offer its moral and spiritual leadership through its political leaders, whereas having the church as a part of the mixed constitution means political leaders can leave that side of things primarily to the Queen and the Lords Spiritual.

This is not to say politicians and parliament don't engage in some 'moral leadership' but the overtly religious element tends to be less pronounced.
There's only so much punishment a man can take in pursuit of punani. - Sundae
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