Friday, May 19, 2006

Religion and Politics - US and Europe.

Stanley R. Sloan had an interesting yesterday in the International Herald Tribune on the reasons why most Europeans are so uncomfortable with the role played by religion in American politics. Here are my favourite parts which, I think, give a fair (yet rather short) account of the misunderstanding:
Europeans have always been uncomfortable with the way American presidents have invoked God in support of U.S. policies. Bush didn't start this, but he has practiced it with more conviction than most of his predecessors.
As opposed to America, where religion has historically been on the side of "freedom," Europe's experience suggests that the church is not always a friend of democracy, and that religion can be a source of conflict as much as an instrument for peace. For Europeans the political success of the 18th-century Enlightenment was that it ensured a social contract based on reason, rather than on an absolute truth that made discussion and debate impossible.
A strong believer, with political views on an issue grounded in religious beliefs, is less likely to tolerate varying political views. Uncompromising faith, which can be a strength in one's personal life, can be a recipe for disaster in foreign policy.


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