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Should religion and politics be separate?

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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by Ivan on Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:10 am

First topic message reminder :

I see that Cameron is working his way through the ‘Thatcher Handbook On How To Be An Evil Prime Minister’. He’s already read the pages about making anti-immigrant noises before an election, smear all trade unionists, demonise public sector workers and pretend to be standing up for Britain in Europe (in his case, by walking away from discussions having achieved nothing). The next page in the book is about religion.

The old witch played her part by making a speech in a church in which she claimed that “the important thing about the Good Samaritan wasn’t that he was good, it was that he had money”. Now it’s Cameron turn. Religion is a wonderful thing for a politician who dares to use it, since it’s the best form of social control ever invented. It conditions its adherents to be docile and conformist to authority, and to accept as “God’s will” whatever shyte politicians such as Cameron throw at them. For Cameron to claim to be a Christian, when his vile government is pursuing policies which do anything but “love thy neighbour”, is simply gross hypocrisy.

Cameron provoked this reaction from Terry Sanderson, the President of the National Secular Society: “His promotion of faith for other people when his own is so wishy-washy is typical of a politician who thinks religion is a useful means of social control. But you cannot force people to believe what they have reasoned to be untrue. Nor will they be convinced that religion is the only route to morality. The daily headlines from around the world have shown that religion can be a thousand times more destructive than any rioter in Tottenham. The British Social Attitudes Survey published last week showed that 65% of young people in Britain don't have a religion - and they aren't going to be forced to have one. The report ended with a warning to politicians that trying to use religion as a political tool would likely damage them at the ballot box. It seems the Prime Minister is going to learn that lesson the hard way."

Cameron has been promoted way above his abilities because he's rich and because of his royal connections. So it’s only to be expected that his inherent stupidity will surface quite frequently. In this instance, as Richard Dawkins has pointed out: “Cameron has fallen into a trap, as on the one hand he’s saying we’re a Christian country, but on the other he’s saying we’re in a terrible moral state. It seems like a paradox”.

Andrew Copson of the British Humanist Association commented: "As a simple factual statement, what Cameron said is incorrect - only a minority of people in Britain are practising Christians and over half of the population sees itself as non-religious, according to the latest British Social Attitudes survey. All the evidence is that religion makes no difference in terms of a person's social and moral behaviour.” As our new member Hermes remarked on another forum: “If you need a book to tell you right from wrong then you have problems."

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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by Ivan on Thu Jul 17, 2014 5:01 pm

boatlady. Wow, you’ve touched a few hot potatoes in your post! A lot of people on Twitter get very animated – with good reason – about this conflict, but I keep out of it because it needs a lot more than 140-character soundbites if it’s to be discussed sensibly.

territory formerly belonging to the Palestinians
The Jews also had a claim to Palestine, as they lived there until dispersed by first the Babylonians and later the Romans.

I think the current conflict is more about politics than religion; Benjamin Netanyahu is an extreme right-winger, as was Ariel Sharon. There must be politicians who want peace and a two-state solution, but at present it's the ‘hawks’ who are in power on both sides of the divide.

If we’re going to discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict, maybe we need a relevant thread on the world issues board? I’ll see if I can prepare a balanced post on the subject in the next few days.  
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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by stuart torr on Thu Jul 17, 2014 5:45 pm

Sounds a very good idea Ivan, as this subject may stir up some otherwise unknown beliefs.
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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by boatlady on Thu Jul 17, 2014 6:15 pm

I sort of knew it was going to be contentious - but some of the reports - not only on Twitter - seem to indicate something pretty rotten is going on
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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by boatlady on Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:11 pm

http://t.co/ayShN7LFHn  - link to Independent opinion piece

Mowing the lawn.” That’s the obscene phrase used in Israeli military circles to describe how, every couple of years or so, Gaza is subjected to an awesome display of firepower to trim back Hamas’s military capabilities and ambitions.

The author alleges that the current violence is fomented by Israel, despite Hamas' desire for a more conciliatory approach to the differences between the two communities.

I know in any dispute there are usually faults on both sides, but it seems to me that the stronger party has a bit of an obligation to pull their punches a bit - and it can't be denied Israel has some heavy backers
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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:29 pm

QUOTE: ".... it can't be denied Israel has some heavy backers."

Which raises the question of backing for the Palestinians. Gaza apparently has resources far beyond its own logical capacity.
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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by boatlady on Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:35 pm

It's just so upsetting - maybe Gaza does have heavy backers, but if you look at the maps, maybe they need them.

It just seems wrong that children are apparently being targeted in a violent conflict
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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by boatlady on Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:23 pm

The Jews also had a claim to Palestine, as they lived there until dispersed by first the Babylonians and later the Romans.

That reminds me a bit of Rock on Brother's assertion that Black Americans should be compensated because they came to USA against their will in slave ships - I think the general consensus on that claim was 'Get over it'. The Jewish diaspora is of long duration and for many very well accepted and beneficial. I remember my (Jewish) boyfriend's father writing to him to say that, although living together and sharing expenses during University was all well and good, 'one doesn't marry such girls' -marriage to a working class non-Jew would be just a step too far - social standing would be forfeited. And that was the end of my four year committed relationship.

There is still anti-Semistism here and there, as there is still anti-feminism, various forms of racism and disability hatred; however, that's the way of the world, and we challenge such problems as and when we encounter them, in a proportional and targeted way - not by bombing our opponent back to the Stone Age and killing his children.

Now, I'm more than sympathetic to the Jews, who have had a raw deal throughout history, and I can see where not having a homeland was a real hardship and also why having invested large in Palestine Jewish settlers might feel a sense of entitlement. I also get that the indigenous Palestinians and various others in the Middle East have behaved very badly and should be censured - HOWEVER, I would ask, can a modern enlightened civilised nation or individual ever justify the bombing of hospitals, the pursuit of those trying to evacuate said hospitals, the violent killing of families including their children, the deployment of white phosphorus missiles and all the other blatant breaches of civilised behaviour we have seen recently?

To me, it just seems wrong, and more, it seems to be echoing the very Fascist ideas that the Jews were the victims of in Germany.
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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by oftenwrong on Mon Jul 21, 2014 10:27 pm

Analysis of Civil Wars throughout history all over the World draws obvious comparisons with the current situation in Palestine. .... and Syria. .... and Iraq. .... and Ukraine .... and, and, and ....
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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by Ivan on Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:10 pm

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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by boatlady on Wed Jul 23, 2014 5:04 pm

Yes, I think so
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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Jul 23, 2014 5:24 pm

"Money talks" .... and also plays a tune to which the majority of people seem quite ready to dance. Why do we do that?

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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by boatlady on Thu Jul 24, 2014 6:04 pm

http://t.co/wPi86tNYE4  
Putting this here partly so I can reread it at my leisure, but it also is germane to the issue I am trying to explore on this thread.

An account, by an Indian citizen who recently took part in a peaceful demonstration against the recent events in Gaza, of the response of his 'democratic' government to the protest, and some observations about the role of the Western societies' imperial ambitions in setting the stage for this and other conflict worldwide.

The piece at present that is sticking in my mind is the following quote from Gandhi

My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became life-long companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age-long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close. Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them. Apart from the friendships, therefore, there is the more common universal reason for my sympathy for the Jews.

But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice

Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war [World War I]. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.
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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Jul 24, 2014 10:35 pm

That quote of Ghandi originates from the 1920s, since when the history of the Jews took a violently different course. Nazi attempted genocide created a postwar mountain of goodwill towards the Jews, whose attempts to establish a homeland in Palestine, although initially thwarted by the British "Palestine Police" succeeded in the establishment of a Jewish State under Ben Gurion in 1948.

That goodwill has now passed from credit into debit.

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Re: Should religion and politics be separate?

Post by boatlady on Tue Aug 12, 2014 9:25 pm

I've been on a bit of a personal journey since first posting on this topic.
As I think I've said before, politics doesn't interest me, but I am interested in ethics and in discussions of how we should behave towards our fellow humans.

The debates around the Gaza situation are interesting mainly because of the use of religion.

It seems when the Israeli government or army are being criticised, this is anti-Semitism (hatred of Jews) -so, although maybe this is a political struggle, the Israeli government colonise the moral high ground by virtue of an identification with a persecuted religious group - the jews - and by reminding us all of the sufferings of the jews under Nazism. This is used to justify the bombing of hundreds of civilians in a very crowded area where there is little opportunity for them to seek safety, while those carrying out the bombings remain comparatively unscathed.

On the other hand, if anyone is drawing attention to the undoubted recent sufferings of the Gazans, again a religious theme is brought into play - the many crimes and wickednesses of the Muslim world, who as we all know (?) are anti-democracy, anti-woman and anti-gay, and responsible for all the terrorist acts in the world today - the people of Gaza are identified with the Islam bogeyman, and the people of Israel are identified as the poor oppressed jews, once again at risk of annihilation at the hands of the evil forces, not this time of Nazism but of Islam. Again, here is justification for the intense bombing of a largely civilian population, including women, children, the disabled and the elderly - all evil Muslims - all deserving of death.

I have had contact with people on  social media over the past weeks where I have been informed that the people of Gaza, being evil Muslims, have slaughtered their own children in order to engage my sympathy. There's definitely evidence that some of the images coming out of Gaza may have been staged to maximise the sympathetic response, but there is also no hiding the numbers of casualties, and the fact that most, if not all, are the victims of Israeli bombing.

I've also looked at a bit of material about the history of Israel and explanations that have been offered about how things got to the state they are today. Many accounts seem to point to the post-war settlements as the beginning of the current troubles, when wave after wave of new Jewish settlers arrived, traumatised from the Holocaust, without consulting the Palestinians already living in the area, and proceeded to take by force the land they wanted to establish the Israeli state. I have read about Palestinian families being made homeless, not once but maybe three times since 1948, due to the advance of the Zionist state. It's easy enough, if you don't bring religion into it, to understand how those people might become attracted to the idea of violently retaking the ancestral lands - the surprising thing is that there has not been more conflict.
I've also looked at accounts by Israeli soldiers, and film evidence - film of Israeli soldiers laughing and cheering as they blow up Gazan homes (which may still have living people in them), film of Palestinian children and women being abused and insulted by young Israel men, accounts of homes ransacked and savings stolen by the highly moral Israel army.

On the whole, I find myself on the side of the Gazans at this time, despite the evidence of 'spin' being used and the histrionic tone of a lot of the Gazan reporting - actually, if my community was under this kind of attack I might be a bit histrionic myself.

I don't know the solution to this problem in the Middle East (although I think not supplying Israel with shitloads of arms might be part of it), but I do begin to think I know what the questions are.

Thank you all for listening - I'm aware people might not want to get into any discussion, but of course, if you do, I will try to post some links to help with the conversation
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