The Weaponisation of Religion against Social Justice.
It’s a controversial one, religion in politics. And much like politics, everyone seems to have a different opinion – be it theism or atheism, agnosticism, or spirituality, it tends to be one of the deep-rooted conversations that always kicks up the dust, or in this case, a sandstorm. Look no further than the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade in America – a decision made that has sent shockwaves across the world, one which has now brought this question into the limelight – how involved should religion be?
I myself was raised in a Christian household. Regardless of my own spiritual beliefs, I hold the opinion that religion and politics should be kept very separate things. However, approaching the issue at hand with the background I have had, there is a lot more to be said for this topic matter that feels all too easily dismissed - one that is pushed away with an eye roll and tossed to the side. Funnily enough, there’s a lot more happening underneath what is just seen on the surface. So, let's dig a little deeper, shall we?
Faith vs Religion – what’s the difference?
The best place to start is to state the following: religion and Faith (aka spiritual belief) are two different things. Of course, the two are intertwined – collaborators, if you will. But like collaborators, they are still independent of one another.
Faith is the fundamental aspect - the cornerstone - of spiritual belief. It is dependent on the individual and is completely unique to each person, regarding their direct relationship with whatever their Faith is based in, be it a God or other spiritual entity. Faith is very much an internal practice that concerns the matter of the heart, mind, and soul. It is one side of the coin that focuses on emotions rather than formalities.
Flip to the other side, and religion appears distinctively different, concerning the rituals of Faith and the various institutions and churches. Religion provides instructions and practices of a Faith – it is the structure surrounding it. Religion itself is not inherently a bad thing, but is much more influential and mouldable, for better or for worse. This is what we see from the outside perspective; it is an external variable. And somehow, it has found itself in the involvement of social justice.
Playing the Devil’s Advocate
Let’s cut to the chase. Like it or not, religion holds influence. It is the umbrella that covers up to 85% of the world’s current population, so there’s no denying the impact it has when it comes to shaping a society.
But let’s really crack open this can of worms.
History tends to have a habit of repeating itself. There’s no point turning a blind eye to the way religion has been manipulated before (and for someone else’s benefit): Henry VIII, The English Civil War… The list goes on. But I digress.
Religion has been weaponised in the past by multiple world leaders, to benefit their own personal agendas. It’s an issue that has created multiple hurdles in the pursuit of social justice, and unfortunately, it seems to be happening again.
“There are approximately three thousand verses in the Bible that are concerned with social justice and the common good, with taking care of the poor and the immigrant, with the indiscriminate extension of kindness and compassion. If evangelicals were really ‘pro-life’ and not just obsessed with the unborn, they would be similarly filled with righteous indignation over the massive social injustices that bedevil our nation and our world”
The overturning of Roe v. Wade feels like a disturbingly familiar scenario – another human right, stripped away like a weed because someone else simply disagrees with it. Guarded with the proud reason of ‘religion’, pro-life supporters continue to miss the point entirely. These decisions shouldn’t be about someone’s personal belief, but to provide the option of choice for society. Obvious, right? What’s not so obvious however is that really, these choices aren’t rooted in maintaining a ‘sanctity of life’ or any other benefit – it’s to maintain power and control.
Political leaders rely on the influence of religion to corner their society into obedience. And under the mask of religion, they are free to dictate their own prejudices onto other people. And time and time again, it works. Because who would question the word of God?
The Modern Revelation
Truthfully, these things shouldn’t concern religion at all – spiritual belief is such a personal thing to each individual and should certainly not be used as a method of dictatorship. And it most certainly shouldn’t be used to force people into situations they don’t want to be in.
The use of religion in these extremely harmful political decisions completely neglects everything that a Faith stands for. And when all is said and done, the politicising of religion and the growing hostility it encapsulates is only going to fuel the fire more. People naturally are entitled to their own opinions and convictions. But those personal beliefs should never deprive the choice of someone else.
So, after unearthing this tangled mess of religious conspiracy and one-sided political agendas, what is there left to say? I can only advise education, information, and awareness of this issue. Ignorance is one of the biggest contributors to discrimination, so let’s shine a little light on the situation. The repetition of this vicious cycle will only stop if enough people are aware of the danger it entails, so let’s give it the uprooting it deserves.
Maybe it’s time to start planting roots of our own.