posted on 15 March 2017
Written by Frank Li
What’s the relationship between church and state? What should it be? These questions have been haunting most of the world for the past 2,000 years at least. As a worldwide religious war between Christianity and Islam is brewing, there is no better time than now to profoundly answer these questions.
1. Organization of People
The image below highlights my theory of "Organization of People". It is a meshed network, with religions (or churches) and countries (or states) interposed, reflecting the two major ways people are organized:
The first civilization by country is Egypt, which started about six thousand years ago. China boasts of having a civilization of five thousand years. For more, read: Civilizations.
The first well documented [and organized] religion is Judaism, which started about three thousand years ago. However, many Gods (e.g. Sun God, Moon God, and Water God) existed way before that, in order to explain what was, at the time, beyond man’s comprehension.
After the written languages were developed, some "scholarly" people started documenting and theorizing their own beliefs, and even creating their own God(s), resulting in several holy books, such as the Torah (Judaism), the Bible (Christianity), and the Qur'an (Islam).
For more on the origins of Christianity and Islam, read Section 5.
2. Country vs. religion
At the highest level conceptually, country and religion have the same goal: organization (or control) of people. Therefore, they often conflict and even collide. As religion came later than country, it has been used to either subvert (more often) or justify (less often) the government of a country.
Here is the general dynamics between country and religion: as a religion grew, it tried to gain additional power over its subjects, thus interfering with the country (e.g. a monarchy or a democratically elected government). When people lose confidence in the government, they tend to be more religious. On the other hand, when a country is prosperous, religion tends to lose prominence.
A country typically has an army, but a religion usually does not. In the past, there were some notable exceptions, with religions commanding large armies. Two examples:
3. Country and religion
Different countries treat religions differently. Six examples:
Likewise, different religions treat countries differently. Two examples:
Finally, just like there are wars between countries, there are wars between religions. Furthermore, just like there are wars within a country, there are wars within a religion, such as (1) Catholics vs. Protestants within Christianity and (2) Shia vs. Sunni within Islam.
It is difficult to assess if the overall effect of religion has been beneficial for mankind. Certainly more people have been killed in the name of religion than for any other cause.
Throughout the world, different relationships between church and state exist for different reasons. Let's focus on four regions:
Let me highlight each.
4.1 The Far East
There is virtually no issue of "church vs. state" in this region. Two big examples:
There is one major exception: the Philippines, with about 80% of its population (i.e. about 80 million people) being Catholics, as a result of colonialism for hundreds of years. Below is a short video, reflecting the recent situation over there.
4.2 The Mideast
It's a melting pot, with three major religions (e.g. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) claiming Jerusalem to be a holy city.
Its history is full of wars between countries, with Christianity often playing a big role (e.g. Catholics vs. Protestants). As more and more Muslims migrate into Europe, a lot of new problems are surfacing in a clash of cultures and religions. Two examples:
America is exceptional - Can any country be more exceptional than America, which was founded with neither a king nor a pope?
Our Founding Fathers instituted, among many things, two great policies for America:
If we, Americans, are misled and try to amend these two great policies, we may end up being like the rest, ultimately proven to be not exceptional at all.
Throughout human history, most countries have been in a constant power struggle between two authorities: king (or queen) vs. religion. Religious power tends to get stronger with a weak king, while a strong king often diminishes religious power.
The power struggle remains little changed after a monarchy is replaced by a republic: It just becomes a republic government vs. religion.
Unfortunately, most republics with democratically elected governments have proven to be untrustworthy, with ridiculously low approval ratings. As a result, people turn more to religion for support, which is true today not only in America, but also in the Mideast. For more, read:
5. Origins of Christianity and Islam
Two informative readings:
For more discussion on this subject, stay tuned for my future publications.
The subject of “church vs. state” is complex. Fortunately for China and Japan, it has never been an issue. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, it has been a contentious issue since the start of the first religion!
Now, please sit back and enjoy the video below.
>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<
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