Why these faith leaders want religion to play a bigger role in global politics

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  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Dec. 6, 2018 3:27 p.m.

    Whenever I feel I have exhausted my well if antipathy and apathy for organized religion, I see articles like this.

    The well is not as dry as I believed.

    I am glad our forefathers created a secular nation, the most secular and successful the world has ever known.

  • Rubydo Provo, UT
    Dec. 6, 2018 1:16 p.m.

    There are faith leaders from the other side of the globe that want us here in the US accountable to their religious blasphemy laws under their penelanties which should cause serious concern. Giving religions more political power especially on the world stage is a threat to basic freedoms and cultures.

  • imsmarterthanyou Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 6, 2018 12:40 p.m.

    The only possible reason faith leaders could have for wanting to be more involved in politics is to force their backward, outdated ideal on everyone else. They are not content to manage their own lives, they think they are the only ones capable of running yours.

  • Ralph Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 30, 2018 12:07 p.m.

    New to Utah - Provo, UT "No question that the election of Barack Obama the most progressive and liberal president in my lifetime influenced the younger generation. His academic and media supporters absolutely influenced my children to question Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints views on abortion, same sex marriage, gays and lesbians. Donald Trumps harsh critics are plentiful in academic leadership positions and certainly are influential on millennials."

    Since you bring both politicians up, which of the two has the personal life that you would rather your children emulate?

  • Red Corvette St George, UT
    Oct. 6, 2018 12:37 p.m.

    More power and more money. Too much is not enough.

  • buddy10mm South Jordan, UT
    Oct. 1, 2018 12:23 p.m.

    Interesting to read all the frankly silly, because they are off-topic (and usually factually inaccurate), comments about "religion as the cause of war."
    Whether you like religion or not, are religious or not, you can't ignore the significant International Relations literature on Non-State Actors and transnational groups who can influence political action.
    Religious actors can tone down the political vitriol and bring about peaceable change. Religious actors can also ramp up the vitriol and increase violence.
    I can't see a down side to religious actors trying to make the world a more peaceful place.

  • Thomas Jefferson Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 1, 2018 8:48 a.m.

    The answer to the 'question' posed in the headline is simple. Religious leaders want power, just like they always have. That is why they became religious leaders in the first place.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Sept. 29, 2018 7:52 p.m.

    >>Exactly my point! Rather than finding common ground and shared humanity, people revert to tribalism so powerful that it is sanctioned by their god. And we want to inject MORE of this into the world?! [That was rhetorical said with extreme irony.]

    Given how our political systems are manifestly failing to provide comfort and security for the world, failing to help anyone find common ground and shared humanity, I'm curious where else people look for those things if not to their churches and other such groups when they're threatened.

    And no, religion is not the reason that political systems are failing to bring humanity together.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    Sept. 28, 2018 3:09 p.m.

    "Anglicans are Protestants."

    No, Anglicans are not "Protestants".

    Henry VIII declared himself the Head of the Roman Catholic Church in his kingdom (England) when the Pope refused to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Henry aimed merely to supplant the Pope as the head of the English Catholic Church, not to remodel it along the lines approved by Protestant reformers.

    And Anglicans in the Colonies were predominately loyalists. Citing a few examples of non-loyalists does not make the rule.

    It is nonsense to attribute violence and death to anyone merely because they are of one religion or none. Hence, it is nonsense to attribute deaths to "atheists" because a non-believer carried it out.

    Here is a simple rule: if it is done "in the name of" religion, then it can be attributed to that religion.

    The deaths you disingenuous believers are trying to attribute to "atheism" were not carried out "in the name of" atheism. Please prove otherwise.

    But the deaths attributable to Christianity, and its lingering legacy of colonization, are done "in the name of" Christianity! (and likewise Islam). The Churches officially endorse, support, and carry out war, violence and death.

  • jeclar2006 Oceanside, CA
    Sept. 27, 2018 6:36 p.m.

    Not-in-Utah-anymore - , CA
    ---
    Unthinking people claim just because a person or leader was religious ... that it was all about religion.
    ---

    And likewise for the religious apologistsclaim religion was not a dominant factor in a number of wars.

    You make mention of atheists... which is a religious term, and presumed to be pitted against 'believers' in a theistic religion.

    The whole issue of putting 'God' on US currency, and injecting 'god' in the Pledge of Allegiance, was very specifically to appeal to the religious aspects of the 'fight against godless Communism'.

    Looking at Roman wars before the rise of Christianity, and one can few to no examples of using 'religious' rhetoric to incite war. Roman wars were for expansion of Rome's power, and the religion of the conquered people often was left as it was. Even the Jews were given certain concessions, until they attempted 3 revolts.

    Post Augustine's pronouncement of a 'just war', all wars became justified in terms of religious rhetoric in the West, until the modern age, and as noted, the Cold War pitted the god fearing against the godless.

  • Tyler D Prescott, AZ
    Sept. 27, 2018 3:26 p.m.

    @mhenshaw – “they turn to groups with whom they have strong personal connections”

    Exactly my point!

    Rather than finding common ground and shared humanity, people revert to tribalism so powerful that it is sanctioned by their god.

    And we want to inject MORE of this into the world?! [That was rhetorical said with extreme irony.]

    @Not-in-Utah-anymore – “Does anyone really think present-day Islamic extremists are fighting about religion?”

    Yes… and to believe otherwise is to traffic in pure delusion.

  • Not-in-Utah-anymore , CA
    Sept. 27, 2018 2:04 p.m.

    mhenshaw - Leesburg, VA Sept. 27, 2018 6:18 a.m.
    "I keep seeing atheists and skeptics make that claim and I would like to see some citations of scholarly research that back it up."

    The claim is false. A good scholarly book is Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong that looks at the actual causes of the wars and the people who did the fighting. Even things like the Crusades were less about religion and more about nationalism and territory. Even the so-called 'Religious Wars' had Protestants and Catholics on one side and Protestants and Catholics on the other. Unthinking people claim just because a person or leader was religious (and might have used some religious rhetoric) - like the above claim someone made about the American Revolution - that it was all about religion. Does anyone really think present-day Islamic extremists are fighting about religion? They're using religious rhetoric to incite people for a nationalistic cause. The deaths by atheistic (communist) countries in the last 100 years would probably dwarf any actually attributable to real religious disagreements.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Sept. 27, 2018 1:32 p.m.

    @Mhenshaw;
    " Religions have always created very strong social ties among their adherents, so it's natural for people in war zones to come together with their fellow believers for mutual assistance. "

    Another inaccuracy. Religious people love you, if you belong to their religion. Most religions believe that THEIR religion is correct and perfect and all others are false. The wars, that they "come together" over, are caused by religious people that try to force their beliefs on others. Please, read some history.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Sept. 27, 2018 1:13 p.m.

    jeclar2006,
    "The reason religion is no longer a significant element in European wars, is due to the horrific wars of religion that took place before."
    ____________________
    That argument has merit although the Balkans seem to still be clinging to that region's turbulent past.

    Were the Crusades all about Christianity vs. Islam? Was it a clash of expanding empires over territorial dominance? I would argue it is some of both. Since the eighth century, Islam was encroaching deeper into Christian lands. By the end of the first millennium, Christian states were pushing back and penetrating into Muslim lands. There was no definitive winner in those struggles that gave way to deeply ingrained tensions between the two great Western religions that continue to this very day.

    Religion has undeniably been a factor in wars. But that can also be overstated. When there is armed conflict between nations of different religions, it may not matter to the average man whether religion was the mitigating factor. But it will invariably accentuate the conflict in popular understanding that is then passed down from generation to generation.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Sept. 27, 2018 12:17 p.m.

    >>400 years? Perhaps you missed European History from Jan Huss on, until The Peace of Westphalia in 1648, most wars in Europe had a significant religious component.

    I'm not restricting my inquiry to European nations. Asia, Africa, the Americas -- they all had wars during that time frame too. And, BTW, saying that some wars had a "religious component" is not the same as saying that religion was the cause.

    >>Far more disturbing than religion causing wars is the fact that whatever the causes are, in areas where religion is ubiquitous people seem to quickly divide along religious affiliation regardless of how they view the political differences.

    Of course they do. In situations where people feel their security is being threatened, they turn to groups with whom they have strong personal connections for help. Religions have always created very strong social ties among their adherents, so it's natural for people in war zones to come together with their fellow believers for mutual assistance. And I don't think most people see political organizations as reliable sources of charity and protection.

  • jeclar2006 Oceanside, CA
    Sept. 27, 2018 11:13 a.m.

    mhenshaw - Leesburg, VA
    ---
    I've previously done some cursory research into wars fought over the last 400 years and virtually none of them stemmed from clashing religious beliefs. Religion may have been a dominant cause for limited periods (ex. the Crusades); but I don't think that's held true for all, of even most, periods in history. (It certainly wasn't true for the 20th century).
    ---

    400 years? Perhaps you missed European History from Jan Huss on, until The Peace of Westphalia in 1648, most wars in Europe had a significant religious component.

    The 30 Years War, 1618-1648, was begun when the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II imposed restrictions on non-Catholic religions . The Protestant states which were then part of the Holy Roman Empire, and had obtained freedom to practice their religion under the Peace of Augsburg, ending an earlier war of religion.

    The resulting war lasting 30 years, decimated the German States, and changed the power relationships of Europe forever, accelerated the movement to eliminate religion from the state.

    The reason religion is no longer a significant element in European wars, is due to the horrific wars of religion that took place before.

  • Tyler D Prescott, AZ
    Sept. 27, 2018 11:11 a.m.

    @mhenshaw – “provide a citation to scholarly research that supports that claim.”

    I have no idea what the percentages are and, like you, would welcome some research on the subject. That said, I don’t find it the most disturbing problem.

    Far more disturbing than religion causing wars is the fact that whatever the causes are, in areas where religion is ubiquitous people seem to quickly divide along religious affiliation regardless of how they view the political differences (i.e., people sharing political ideology will still fight because of religious identification) .

    We’ve seen this time and time again in Europe of old, in current day Middle East, Ireland, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Philippines, various Asian countries, etc.

    The fact that religion can trump all other differences suggests that it is perhaps the most powerful (and divisive) motivation human beings have ever known. Certainly it’s the most enduring – i.e., most political ideologies are short lived by historical standards.

  • EightOhOne St. George, UT
    Sept. 27, 2018 11:05 a.m.

    Bigger role=more power

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 27, 2018 11:05 a.m.

    Craig Clark,
    Thank you for providing accurate history for the atheist.

    I feel that better religion defends itself/freedom to worship against aggression, while worse religion seeks to compel others to believe.

    This is of course why missionaries seek to find, teach, and persuade, with boldness but no compulsion. It is also why groups such as ISIS try to use violence/compulsion. There is a huge difference in the quality/core of the respective religions. Some atheists seek to conflate all religion as one belief system, which it is not.

    I wonder how many atheists are even aware that the very neighborhoods they live in are improved because of religious neighbors. Less gangs and violence; more honesty, goodness, decency, respect.

    But sometimes it just doesn't sink in.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Sept. 27, 2018 10:21 a.m.

    The Atheist,
    "As Christian colonialism recedes, it leaves conflict and disputes that have been smoldering for generations. The US War of Independence was one such conflict, and was effectively Protestants against Anglicans."
    ____________________
    Anglicans are Protestants. General Washington was himself an Anglican leading an Army that included Protestants, Catholics, and non-believers. Jews also took sides and like Christians, some colonial Jews supported independence while others remained loyal to the British crown.

    The causes of the American Revolution were political and economic but primarily the former. Religious strife was not a significant root cause.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Sept. 27, 2018 10:14 a.m.

    >>Really? Strange research that omitted the war...

    I did not say that religion was *never* the cause of war; I said that it wasn't and isn't the cause of "the majority of the wars in the world" as asserted by @Fullypresent. No one questions that there have been wars over religion. But I'm pretty certain that saying religion is the cause of the majority of *all* wars throughout history is an overblown claim. When you consider the total number of wars fought over just the last four hundred years--hundreds upon hundreds--the number grounded in religion (vs political differences) appears to be a small fraction, your off-the-cuff list notwithstanding.

    So, again, I invite those who believe that "the majority of the wars in the world have been over differences in religious and spiritual beliefs" provide a citation to scholarly research that supports that claim. Always happy to be proven wrong.

  • dordrecht Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 27, 2018 9:51 a.m.

    Moderation in all things includes religion.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    Sept. 27, 2018 9:16 a.m.

    Ever heard the term "post-colonial world"?

    The (largely Christian) colonizing nations have ceased their imperialistic colonizing. Their world-wide colonial empires are retracting.

    When Christian colonizers established their presence in countless native cultures throughout the world, they "evangelized" by efforts to "convert" the local natives to "civilized Christianity."

    As Christian colonialism recedes, it leaves conflict and disputes that have been smoldering for generations. The US War of Independence was one such conflict, and was effectively Protestants against Anglicans. Elsewhere, it is Christians against Muslims.

    In classic religious fashion, they drew ideological lines that corresponded to geo-political and economic lines: either you convert (often through threat of force, violence or boycott), or you relocated on the non-Christian side of the boundary.

    Conflicts around the world today are largely in places where colonialism usurped power and is now receding. Native peoples are taking back their birthright, and colonizing remnants are fighting to hold historically illegitimate power.

    More religion in geo-political affairs is NOT the answer!

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 27, 2018 9:00 a.m.

    What a fine and commendable event; one hopes that political leaders will pay attention and make use of the ideas presented. Good religion has so much to offer--really the solutions to all problems. But they can't implement those solutions by force.

    As fine an idea as this is, it is swimming upstream against an increasingly secular and atheist current. But I'll be grateful for whatever good it can do.

  • dmcvey Los Angeles, CA
    Sept. 27, 2018 8:59 a.m.

    “In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

    Mark Twain

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Sept. 27, 2018 8:58 a.m.

    @mhenshaw;
    "I've previously done some cursory research into wars fought over the last 400 years and virtually none of them stemmed from clashing religious beliefs."

    Really? Strange research that omitted the wars between the Shiites/Sunnis/Shia etc. that only stop when they all fight against America's infidels. Ireland/ England? Hitler v Jews? Syria civil war. Lebanese civil war, both over religion. Israel/Palestine. India/Pakistan. Hindu v Muslim.
    That's just a few that come to mind. I'm sure Google could provide plenty more that I missed. Your statement in not accurate.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Sept. 27, 2018 8:49 a.m.

    Religion is entitled to a voice in politics. But it is just one voice among many with no voice having disproportionate influence. Of course, it seldom works out that way. Some voices bring money or other muscle to the table and some voices simply shout louder than others. But equity is the ideal a free people strive for. We are all in this together.

  • Tyler D Prescott, AZ
    Sept. 27, 2018 8:37 a.m.

    Question – which group of countries would you rather live in?

    Norway, Canada, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Belgium, Japan.

    Or…

    Pakistan, Honduras, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Yemen, Egypt, Myanmar, Columbia, Iran, Somalia

    These countries are spread all over the world and thus are diverse in almost every way. But each group has one important thing in common – level of religiosity.

  • Jeremiah Flanksteak Sandy, UT
    Sept. 27, 2018 7:35 a.m.

    Separate religion from politics! Nowhere is it more pervasive than this state.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Sept. 27, 2018 6:36 a.m.

    Religion is one of the driving forces for the divisiveness in today's society.

  • MaxPower Eagle Mountain, UT
    Sept. 27, 2018 6:36 a.m.

    History has shown that when those who think they control my eternal salvation are also in control of my temporal life, the power always corrupts them. One need only look at Europe during the medieval ages, or caliphates of the Middle East as a quick example.

    But maybe it'll be different this time because it's my belief system seeking control.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Sept. 27, 2018 6:18 a.m.

    >>One does have to consider that the majority of the wars in the world have been over differences in religious and spiritual beliefs.

    I keep seeing atheists and skeptics make that claim and I would like to see some citations of scholarly research that back it up.

    I've previously done some cursory research into wars fought over the last 400 years and virtually none of them stemmed from clashing religious beliefs. Religion may have been a dominant cause for limited periods (ex. the Crusades); but I don't think that's held true for all, of even most, periods in history. (It certainly wasn't true for the 20th century).

  • rlynn Brandon, FL
    Sept. 27, 2018 6:00 a.m.

    On the surface sounds great, however how many wars commenced between religions? Or in the name of Jesus or Muhammad? Even in Christian Churches there are verbal wars between the LDS Church and the Baptists, etc. as to the what true religion is. The Anglican church has civil war going on. We have a war between Muslims and Christians in this country not to mention the underling hate toward the children of Judah. So how can forcing one's religious views on a nation be good? Individuals should be active in the political world, not religious organizations, look at history, nothing good ever came from combining religion and government together. Religion is for the salvation of the soul, government should be for the freedom of the individual.

  • dwidenhouse Saratoga Springs, UT
    Sept. 26, 2018 11:37 p.m.

    @Neaderthal
    China? Anyone?

    @Fullypresent
    The majority of wars have been fought over religion? I think that very few religions teach their followers to go to war against other people because of religion. ALL of the wars, however, have been fought over pride; the belief that someone is lesser than another. When an individual believes they are better than another, their treatment of that "lesser" being changes and can eventually morph into physical aggression and war. If you remove faith and religion from politics, then you remove the moral fiber which gives reason to your saying "Love yourself, love your neighbor" (which saying came from Jesus Christ, if you remember). We don't need less religion or faith. We need less pride.

  • HSTucker Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 26, 2018 11:14 p.m.

    How wonderful to be a part of a great church, a mighty force throughout the world, that knows how to serve others while preserving the agency and free will both of the recipients of its charity and the source of its funds -- the members. As the forces of globalization continue to ramp up, with its associated values, the church needs to be prepared to exert even greater influence on the world stage. I fully trust Elder Christofferson to effectively represent our interests and to do so in a way that wins over hearts and minds.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    Sept. 26, 2018 10:31 p.m.

    Our Congress on the Republican side along with the President don’t have religious nor human decency as they push toward isolation in all areas of diplomacy, economy, and human rights.

    The 1920-1930s gave is isolation so extreme that our political leaders allowed Germany, Italy, and Japan to precipitate and continue world conquests in Europe and the Pacific. We needed Communism from Russia’s Government as an ally.

    We were not minding the store.

    Religion is great but government should be securing our safet and welfare. The religious society is an important part of working together.

    The display today in the United Nations today was a failur in our country’s leadership.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 26, 2018 8:52 p.m.

    One does have to consider that the majority of the wars in the world have been over differences in religious and spiritual beliefs. In that sense, faiths/religions should not be more involved with politics. Look at what has happened to our own country with the basic fight between non-religious or atheists leftists and evangelical right.

    How about we just focus on how to be decent human beings and unselfishly share the same planet. Love yourself, love your neighbor, take care of the earth, be a responsible human being with your life and those that depend on you. Just those things would radically improve our own country as well as the world.

  • Neanderthal Springville, UT
    Sept. 26, 2018 7:40 p.m.

    Religion should have no part in politics. The countries that do, lack civil liberties for their citizens.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Sept. 26, 2018 6:55 p.m.

    It's time to anchor global politics in reality instead of religion. Religion has little to offer but division, us and them, discord. It is the source of much strife in the world, of Shia versus Sunni, of reality versus science, India versus Pakistan.

    Religion is personal. Politics is public. You can, and it is pretty much always about this, disparage gay people on your own time. Politics needs to serve us all.