comparison and contrast essay

Democracy and Religion |Free essay example

Democracy and Religion

The term democracy literally mean that the people rule. Every human being is to certain extent political being. The meaning of personality is not exhausted by the importance of every day civil life. I think that religion is more important than democracy.

This does not necessarily indicate that that democracy is not important, but it does say that if democracy is not compatible with the religion then the democracy itself should be ceased not religion. Democracy is not something self-explanatory, and it is validity has to be argued and confirmed by rational grounds. Our dealings with God are definitely more significant than our relations in every day life. The civil society cannot be an alternative to God.

Therefore it means that if our relationship with God is not proper and valid, our relations with our friends and relatives will not be proper either. Statecraft and soul craft are closely related, just as Plato said in his Republic. If democracy is a kind of test for how valid the religion is, this criteria can only mean that democracy claims to be religion itself. Therefore we came to a conclusion that democracy in this situation is not just correct ordering of the civil society by it is more a religion that delivers ultimate meanings. Democracy can be a set of guidelines that claims to be the criteria of what the religion should be, so it is itself idolatry. Before one can accept democracy he should think about what is the purpose of human will. A multiplicity of empty wills does not constitute a democracy rightly founded.

Neither Roman, nor American founders used the word democracy to describe their regime. They preferred the word republic, though often the two words are used as if they were interchangeable. The word republic clearly distinguished between the public thing, republic, and the private things. Family and philosophical things were private things, not in the sense that their reality was something different from what was done in public. Without the family or without the things devoted to God, the state could not be itself. When the state tried to be a substitute for God or the family, it became itself incompetent and disordered.

Cicero also spoke civil religion. This phrase, at first sight unacceptable to us, made a specific point. Civil religion was what the city did for its gods. Liturgy meant the public worship of the gods of the city. Every city recognized that it needed a common agreement about the gods it would worship. The Roman Pantheon was a place that collected al the gods of the many peoples conquered by Rome so that all could live under the same gods. The idea was, in fact, a noble one as far as it went. It sought to mitigate conflict and foster common good.

Essentially, civil region meant that, so long as the cites conquered by the Romans live peacefully under Roman rule, each city could retain its gods and their peculiar liturgy. Effectively, it meant, not that the gods were higher than the city, but that they were subject to the city. What later needed to be formulated, something the American republican founders attempted to do, would be a regime in which the importance and primacy of the gods were not subject to the laws of the state. What was needed was a religion that did not think its primary task was of this world but whose effect was to teach human beings about right living and about God, no matter the regime.

But civil religion also was given the task of supplying a general explanation about the order of the world and man’s place in it that most people could not understand by themselves. Religion supplied a mythological, unscientific understanding-the descriptions of its poets or prophets-of what was to be done that would be functional for most people, who did not have the time or the intelligence to be philosophers. In a sense, both philosophy and polity would understand the need to do and hold certain things, but the manner of understanding these things would differ in profundity and clarity. In this sense, the classical notion of civil religion was a political device to prevent wars of religion, while at the same time it provided a place of privacy and seriousness for the ultimate questions to be confronted and resolved. The American founders in their dealings with religion tried to develop a constitutional arrangement that would protect both religion and polity in their proper spheres, without denying the mutual influence each had (and ought to have) on the other.

Far from religion and democracy living in articulate harmony, as the classic medieval and American thinkers had proposed, we live in a world in which the truth of religion, or even reason, is decided in practice by agreement among the three branches o government. This leaves us not with religion or reason but history to teach us the consequences. We are back to the question of the decline of states in the record of their actions, even those democratically conceived and carried out. We are back with the problem that the legal execution of Socrates by democratic processes bequeaths to us-namely, a corruption of soul on the part of citizens and leaders. This moral obtuseness impedes any recognition of what is right and worthy. The civil disorder is ultimately a personal disorder.

One needs to reflect on this abidingly embarrassing fact that institutional disorder is itself ultimately caused by and borne by personal disorder. We democratically choose to accept as legal the abortion of already-begun human lives. We decide not to argue about it anyone in our polity. We call this “wisdom” because we have chosen it. Scientifically what are aborted, of course, are and can be nothing else but actual human lives begun as every human life begins. The issue is not and never has been “religious.” In fact, this issue is now the primary place where science and religion are in agreement with each other, against the polity. It thereby reverses the status of the religion versus science controversy of the early modern era.

This issue, then, is the most current and poignant illustration of the problem wit democracy. In the Rousseauist tradition, it is possible for a whole people (and not just the American people-the British in many ways enlightened our paths in this unhappy practice) by proper democratic methods, using all three branches of government, to choose what is not right and cannot be made right by the method that justifies the claim to rightness. Again, “democracy works” means that it is not working. There is some intrinsic fault in the system, a fault that is probably related to Johnson’s point about revelation and to Plato’s point that the order of the personal soul is ultimately what enables us, even in a democracy, to understand and do what is right.

In her essay Transitional Paradigm, Carothers talks about so called gray zone countries and their attitudes towards democracy. Carothers offers an eloquent statement of the frustration that many feel as they look at countries, which once were firmly authoritarian or even totalitarian and are such no more-yet which have not become fully democratic. This trend toward what Carothers calls the “gray zone” of ambiguity has replaced the optimism of the “third wave” era, when

Democracy seemed to be going from strength to strength in region after region around the globe. Clearly there is a need to rethink the basic assumptions that we have been making about democratization for the last decade or so, and efforts toward this end have been attracting comment and arousing discussion. I clearly disagree with her point since, she does not leave any room for relationship with God and I do not think that the democracy is the way out for those gray zone countries.

To make a conclusion, the 20th century has shown many dubious political and philosophical principles and lots of worst regimes through the world’s history. These regimes were the products of the political experimenting with their ideas on the world and imposing them with the help of propaganda and force.

The present question is posed by religion and it is asking whether democracy is more subtle and more intimidating. Will the regimes of free democracies, contrary to all the ideology of democracy nowadays, continue to impose principles that are destroying human dignity and life and keep calling them noble and good?

We desperately need a spiritual reversal of values just to be able to see the dignity of our own kind in all its forms. Cicero kept that religious institution, vital for the republic. Citizen had received much support from those institutions at their best, citizens also had to be just, long-suffering, and moderate in their own personal lives.

Democracy does not work any more because it is working, this paradox is both the opportunity and the judgment of nations. The civil reasons for both natural and supernatural religion are to evaluate any living democracy when that regime has in practice no definition of freedom but freedom itself, a definition that was recognized from the beginning of political philosophy to be essentially void of content. This freedom has left democracy with nothing but its own processes, to be essentially at the mercy of those forces in human nature that bring it to its lowest levels and cause perceptive historians, philosophers, and theologians to wonder about the future of nations, about the meaning of providence in the light of what democracy actually does with its “choices.”

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