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RELIGION AS A POLITICAL FACTOR

Jewish dispersions, A.D. 70-1500. A revolt against Roman rule in A.D. 66 was followed by the
destruction of the Jewish Temple four years later and an imperial decision to Romanize the city of
Jerusalem. Judaism spread from the hearth region carried by its adherents dispersing from their
homeland to Europe, Africa, and eventually in great numbers to the Western Hemisphere.
Diffusion paths of Christianity, A.D. 100-1500. Routes and dates are for Christianity
as a composite faith. No distinction is made between the Western church and the
various subdivisions of the Eastern Orthodox denominations.
The building of Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris begun in 1163 and took more than 100 years to
complete. Perhaps the best known of the French Gothic churches, it was part of a great period of
cathedral construction in Western Europe during the late 12th and the 13th centuries. Between 1170
and 1270, some 80 cathedrals were constructed in France alone.
The world’s largest
Christian church. The
Basilica of Our Lady Of
Peace in Yamoussoukro,
the Ivory Coast, is the
world’s Christian church.
The country’s first
president, Felix
Houphouet-Boigny (1905-
1993), converted to Roman
Catholicism as a teenager
and he built the basilica as
a pilgrimage center for
Africa’s Catholics and a
bulwark against Islam and
native religions in his
country. Ivory Coast is
about 12 percent Christian,
60 percent Muslim and 28
percent animist. The air-
conditioned basilica can
hold 18,000 people.
Spread and extent of Islam. Islam predominates in over 35 countries along a band across northern Africa to Central Asia,Bnorthwestern China, and the
northern part of the Indian subcontinent. Still farther east, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any country. Islam’s greatest development is in
Asia, where it si second only Hinduism, and in Africa, where some observers suggest it may be the leading faith. Current Islamic expansion is particularly
rapid in the Southern Hemisphere.
Worshipers gathered during haji, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The black structure is the Ka’bab, the symbol of God’s oneness and
the unity of God and humans. Many rules concerning daily life are given in the Koran, the holy book of the Muslims. All Muslims are
expected to observe the five pillars of the faith (1) repeated saying of the basic creed; (2) prayers five times daily, facing Mecca; (3) a
month of daytime fasting (Ramadam); (4) almsgiving; (5) if possible a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The early diffusion of Buddhism. Buddhism was localized near its hearth for hundreds of
years, but it spread widely through the support of the third-century Indian emperor Asoka.
It has largely been abandoned in India.
Hinduism is today restricted almost exclusively to India, Nepal, and to places where Indians
have migrated, including Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, and Fiji in the Pacific Ocean. Sikhs
form a majority in the Indian state of Punjab, but smaller Sikh communities can be found
throughout India. The regions Christian converted from animism in the 19th century.
The Taj Mahal. A Muslim ruler built the Taj Mahal, a mausoleum in Agra, India,
for his beloved wife, in 1648. India’s Muslim rulers were so rich and powerful
that their name, Mughals, has come down to us in English as a word for a
business executive: a mogul.
Pilgrims at dawn worship in the Ganges River at Varanasi, India, one of the
seven most sacred Hindu cities and the reputed earthly capital of Siva, Hindu
god of destruction and regeneration. Hindus believe that to die in Varanasi
means release from the cycle of rebirth and permits entrance into heaven.
The Golden Temple in Amritsar.
The Sikhs’ 400-year-old Golden
Temple in Amritsar, India, stands
in the middle of a sacred lake (in
sanskrit amrita saras, “pool of
immortality”. The building was
occupied by armed Sikh
extremists in 1983, and the
following year Indian troops
stormed it and drove out the
occupants in a bloody
encounter. Sikh fanatics
retaliated by assassinating
India’s Prime Minister Indira
Gandhi. The world’s second
largest Sikh temple, seating
3,000 worshippers, opened in
London in 2003.
RELIGION AND POLITICS

• Almost all countries guarantee freedom of religion and most governments


observe a form of secularism.
• Theocracy is a form of government where a church rules directly (Vatican).
• In Israel, recent laws ban the production or sale of pork and prohibit
activities on the Sabbath.
• In Christianity, it is accepted the idea that state and church, religion and
politics must be separated. Despite the wide-spread Secularism, several
countries are explicitly Christian supporting the established churches with
public funds (Argentina, Peru, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Finland).
• In Islam, no distinction can be made between church and state, which
teaches that the only purpose of government is to ensure that each person
can lead a good Muslim life. Many countries with largely Muslim populations
are officially Islamic (Mauritania, Afghanistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen,
Oman, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia).
RELIGION AND ECONOMICS

• Max Weber (1904) – The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism –
Protestantism encourages individualism and the worldwide expansion of
Protestantism might encourage individualistic capitalism.
• Universal Catechism (1992) –Markets do not always meet human needs
and governments should regulate markets according to a just hierarchy of
values.
• Confucianism recommends societal leadership by an intelligent elite with
the moral obligation to guide the people. It enhances the status of jobs in
government bureaucracies. Diligence, obedience, and high savings rates
characterize the peoples of neo-Confucian Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and
Singapore.