The influence of a dominant religion on democracy

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The influence of a dominant religion on democracy

This paper aims at providing answers to the question on the effect of religion on democracy. Using the outline of results presented by numerous authors in their quest to study the influence of religion on democracy, we shall design an exceptional study in conclusion of the effects of religion on democracy. This paper tries to argue out that while the beliefs of a dominant religion would undermine democracy by designing conservative values for all its citizens,religious social behavior could enhance the support for democracy through developing great trust in political institutions.

Do religious beliefspromote or hinder democracy and the attitudes of a country’s citizens towards democracy? To begin with, looking at Adorno et al (1950) approach to this question, he designs the theory of authoritarian personality. In his study, he suggests a psychoanalytical relationship undemocratic attitudes and religiosity. Together with many other scholars, Adorno argues that religiosity has the power to challenge democratic socialization and values. A larger percentage of his research is developed in contrast to the belief that democracy and religion are in a causal positive relationship and have developed its focus on religious extremism challenges and loyalties faced by democratic institutions. His study reveals that religion is the result of the rise of non-democratic norms and political intolerance and this belief is supported by (Driessen 56). Smith (35) in an attempt to point out the effects of a dominant religion in democracy concludes that religion as well as religious institutions consider itself of a higher superior power to other societal groups and thus its beliefs would hinder the global implementation of civil rights.

In addition, Ben-Nun Bloom&Arikan(380) study reveals a positive relationship between religiosity and democratic values and norms. In another different study by Ben-Nun Bloom &Arikan(250), the evidence in their research revealed that religious institutions held a greater potential in fighting for a country’s democracy with a deliberate intention of ensuring all citizens have their rights. It is through religious activities that countries enjoy the development of civil norms and skills and the provision of religious basis for social movements.In another different debate by Ben-Nun Bloom &Arikan(1), church attendance was found to have an effect of increased electoral turnout, protest activism, party membership and support of democracy(DeLauro 14).

Most theoretical scholars in the same manner have noted the political inconsistency of religion (Wolfe 45; Green 80; Jamal 100; Evans 140). With this they mean that a dominant religion in a country could be either a contributor to the success and development of democratic skills or the reason for undemocratic values. This contraction can be found in the reconciliation of religion as a multifaceted aspect. The literatures in these developments look at religion from three different angles of behavior, belonging and belief. The behavior aspect is developed from the component of religion as a social practice, attendance in places of worship and involvement and participation in religious communities. Belonging on the other hand looks at the denominational affiliation of an individual which identifies with a specific denomination where one in and private religious practices like sacred texting and prayer. The belief aspect acts as an umbrella to the aspect ofunderstanding the relationship between man and divinity.Looking fully at the American societies, these researches argues that certain religion believes such as the existence of God, belief in life after death, belief in heaven and God as well as social gathering at places of worship among other religious activities have a conflicting consequences on democratic norms and attitudes.

As an individual performing my own research, first I think that religion beliefs and thewhole concept of religion would hinder the ability of a country to be democratized. Why? This is because religious beliefs have a positive association with conservative traditional values and for this connection religious beliefs would then have a negative relationship with openness to democratic values. On the other side, democracy has a positive relationship with openness to change, universalism, equality, independent thoughts and natural rights but would have a negative relationship to security, conformity and tradition. This understanding brings about ainherent conflict and systematic value in democratic value systems and religion. Additionally, social gatherings in places of worship would lead to development of norms and civil skills and political efficiency which would later have a positive outcome on party membership, electoral turnout and participation in civic movements which holds a greater potential for deliberating on democracy (Layman 252). Social religious institutions are created for active minority groups which would benefit from a democratized framework and the support of a democratic government.

Bruce (10) study on the influence of religion on democracy identified how Protestantism affected politics in Western Europe. He says that religion created an arena for individualism, notions of civil liberty and tolerance. Compared to other religions, Protestantism permitted an increased degree of non-conformity and individualism which allowed more freedom in political structures and religion in itself. The religious institutions in Western Europe atthat time became a reflection of a society with an equal voice which led to an ultimate spread of fundamental beliefs needed to drive democracy(Gibson 160).

Meyer (1) on the other hand looked at the influence of Pentecostalism in the political structure in Ghana and provided us with an interplay connection between politics and religion with reference to the issues of morality. In Ghana, the citizens applied religion in a manner to explain what actually occurs in politics and to maintain religion numbers in influencing and claiming the power to cure political sorcery. When the citizens saw political results taking a religious turn, this made political results more understandable to day to day citizens.In Ghana’s scenario, religion has a positive influence in democracy by creating a specific amount of political power which was needed in democracy.

Very many authors who have tried to gain an understanding of the influence of religion on democracy, different authors arrivedifferent conclusions on the same basing on the different values they place on religion as well as politics. Together, all these studies confirm that the many dimensions in religion have a different cause and effect on democratic attitudes among other psychological mechanisms in the society. While religion and its beliefs have been pointed out to undermine democracy because of its basis in conservative valuesit is evident that religious social behavior have in the past fostered engagement in politics thus creating an environment that is needed for democracy.This research has pointed out that it is not the religion nor the behaviors and beliefs in religion that affect democracy  but the values of believes that are taught to individuals that hinder democracy.

Works Cited;

Adorno, Theordor, Frenkel-Brunswik, Else., Levinson, Daniel. and Sanford, Nevitte. The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper & Row, 1950.

Ben-Nun Bloom, Pazit and Arikan, Gizem Priming Religious Belief and Religious Social Behavior Affects Support for Democracy. International Journal of Public Opinion Research. 2015.

Ben-Nun Bloom, Pazit and Arikan, Gizem. The Differential Effect of Religious Belief and Religious Social Behavior on Opinion and Ambivalence in Democratic Attitudes. Political Behavior, 2012;34(2):249-276.

Ben-Nun Bloom, Pazit and Arikan, Gizem. Religion and Democratic Attitudes: A Cross-National Test of the Mediating Mechanisms.British Journal of Political Science.2013; 43(2):375-397.

Bruce, Steve. Did Protestantism Create Democracy, in Anderson, J. (Ed.) Religion, Democracy andDemocratization, New York, NY: Routledge, 2006.

Driessen, Michael. Religion, State, and Democracy: Analyzing Two Dimensions of Church-StateArrangements.Politics and Religion, vol. 3, no. 1 (April 2010): 55-80.

Evans, Bette Novit. The constitutions of religious pluralism in the United States.Religion and Democracy in the United States: Danger or Opportunity?, edited by Alan Wolfe and Ira Katznelson, Princeton University Press, 2010, pp. 114–144.

Gibson, James L. The political consequences of religiosity: Does Religion Always Cause Political Intolerance?Religion and Democracy in the United States: Danger or Opportunity?, edited by Alan Wolfe and Ira Katznelson, Princeton University Press, 2010, pp. 147–175.

Green, John C. Religious diversity and American democracy: A View from the Polls.Religion and Democracy in the United States: Danger or Opportunity?, edited by Alan Wolfe and Ira Katznelson, Princeton University Press, 2010, pp. 46–88.

Hirschl, Thomas, Booth, James & Glenna, Leland. The Link Between Voter Choice and Religious Identity in Contemporary Society: Bringing Classical Theory Back In. Social Science Quarterly, 2009; 90(4), 941.

Jamal, Amaney. Muslim Americans: Enriching or Depleting American Democracy?Religion and Democracy in the United States: Danger or Opportunity?, edited by Alan Wolfe and Ira Katznelson, Princeton University Press, 2010, pp. 89–113.

Layman, Geoffrey C. Religion and party activists: A ‘Perfect Storm’ of Polarization or a Recipe for Pragmatism?Religion and Democracy in the United States: Danger or Opportunity?, edited by Alan Wolfe and Ira Katznelson, Princeton University Press, 2010, pp. 212–252,

Meyer, Brigit. The Power of Money.Witchcraft and Socery(2012). 29

Sherkat, Darren. Religion and Survey Non-Response Bias: Toward Explaining the Moral Voter Gap between Surveys and Voting. Sociology Of Religion, 2007; 68(1), 83-95.p. 94

Wolfe, Alan, et al., editors. Political science, democracy, and religion.Religion and Democracy in the United States: Danger or Opportunity?, Princeton University Press, 2010, pp. 19–45.




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