The Distinction Between the Religious and the Political

Thursday, September 2, 2010

From the article, Religious Freedom and a Mosque by Bill Warner:

There is a practical working definition of religion as compared to politics. Religious practices are done by those who follow that religion and are motivated for achieving paradise and avoiding hell. Outsiders are not involved in those religious acts. If it is about going to heaven and avoiding hell, then it is religious. However, if the religion makes a demand on those outside of its own group, then that demand is political.

There are about as many Buddhists in America today as there are Muslims. When was the last time you remember a Buddhist demand of any kind? Do Buddhists set up councils to shape the textbooks and demand Buddhist finance? Does the government make a big announcement when Buddhists are appointed to high posts? Are there even any Buddhists in any White House appointments? Do Buddhists complain? Never, for these are political actions, and Buddhism has almost no political outreach. Buddhism in America is purely religious, not political at all.

Yet the media and the Internet are consumed by talk and argument about Islam. The discussion is never about how many rounds of prayer to do or whether a certain food is halal (religiously proper). No, the focus is always on something that non-Muslims are to do to accommodate an Islamic religious practice.

Let us be clear: If the religion makes a demand on those outside of its own group, then that demand is political.

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