The Influence of Religion on Politics International Alliance
Throughout the better part of the second millennium, people from the Western world were convinced that the importance of religion would decrease and perhaps ultimately cease to existwith more and more technological advances. The 20th century has shown a much different picture. “Religiously inspired events, like the Iranian revolution in the late 1970s, made people aware of the importance of religion in most national political systems, although many remained unconvinced of the significance attached to it with respect to international politics” (Westermann, 2007, p.113). It was only after September 11th that people began taking notice of the interrelation between religion and the international political system. If nine out of eleven proved anything, it was the enormously influential role that religion plays in contemporary affairs”(Westermann, 2007, p.124). For ages, religion has had a significant influential impact on politics and political alliances both regionally and internationally.
Religion is a prime factor in determining of internationalpolitics and regional alliances .It is perhaps one of the major silent regulators. Bellin argues that, for a long time, religion has been peripheral to the concerns of most political scientists. It is perceived as limited in theoretical reach and methodological sophistication. Studies of religion in politics have typically been shunted to the margins of the profession (Bellin, 2008, p.315). She argues that of late, religion has begun to force its way into the mainstream of the discipline, a trend that is fostered by two important developments. First, the increasing methodological sophistication of specialists in this subfield has linked the study of religion to broader theoretical questions in political science and secondly, real-world events have put religion front and center in current affairs, posing puzzles that demand explanations (Bellin, 2008, p.315).
In comparative politics, the subfield’s turn from purely descriptive work to structured comparison. It has yielded important insights suggesting the rationality of religious behavior, the role of contingency and choice in shaping politico-religious outcomes.The weight of path dependence and institutional endowment in shaping values such as religious tolerance is also part of the course. According to Bellin, the subfield has still failed to reckon with the power of religion as an independent variable, the non-instrumental aspect of religious behavior, and the malleability of religious ideas, as well as their differential appeal, persuasiveness, and political salience over time (Bellin, 2008, p.316).
Religion and international relations
In international relations, recognition of the importance of religious identities and values in international politics constitutes an advance over realist caricatures of this arena and promises to unlock important empirical puzzles posed by current events. However, few of the new studies go much beyond exhortation for a paradigm shift in international relations. Far too many succumb to epistemological debates about the logic and validity of causal inquiry in human affairs. Most miss the opportunity to get on with the project of puzzle-driven research that might shed light on questions of when and how religion matters in international affairs and politics.
The long-standing neglect of religion in comparative religion and international relations derives from conditions specific to each subfield. Bellin argues that, among comparative analysts, (Norris & Inglehart, 2002, p.3), the tendency to ignore religioncan be traced to the subfield’s theoretical inspiration drawn from the work of Weber, Durkheim, and Marx. According to Bellin, the three theorists believed that “religion was a pre-modern relic, destined to fade with the advance of industrialization, urbanization, bureaucratization, and rationalization.” This conviction, later named “secularization theory,” became one of the most uncontested schools of thought in academia (Bellin, 2008, p.318). Under its influence religion was perceived as anachronistic, if not epiphenomenal. Most comparative analysts steered clear of its study.
By the late 1970s, however, empirical reality began to challenge the axiom that modernization would inevitably spell the decline and political insignificance of religion. The rise of the Islamic revolution in Iran, the persistence and political salience of religious devotion in the USA, growing importance of liberation theology in Latin America-all suggested thatreligion remained a consequential force in contemporary politics, even in relatively developed countries (Bellin, 2008, p.318). This reality sparked a surge of studies on everything from the politics of evangelical Christianity in the Americas and the dynamics of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East to the role of the Catholic Church in Poland’s break from communism.
For the most part, however, “the studies had limited impact on the discipline as a whole. For while they were often brilliantly analytical, they were also, by and large, descriptive case studies-not aimed at generating or testing hypotheses, not linked to larger theoretical debates in political science, and not cumulative in any theoretical sense. Bellin argues that studies that were explicitly multi-country in conception, while terrifically informative, were rarely organized around structured comparison and often ended up as exercises in comparative statistics rather than theory building” (Bellin, 2008, p.320).
In the subfield of International Relations, various factors outlined the disregard for religion in politics. The establishment of the modern international order, hisotricaly, was associated with the formal exclusion of religion in international matters. The principles of state sovereignty and non-inference in the state’s domestic affairs, being among the constitutive principles of international order, were systematically arranged for the first time in the Treaty of Westphalia (Bellin, 2008, p.324). This compact aimed to end the wars of religion in Europe by enshrining the principle of non -interference in the religious preferences of other states. The historical experience of Westphalia indelibly associated the removal of religion with the establishment of international order and planted an enduring suspicion of injecting religion into international affairs.
Bellin ascertains that beyond those quasi-normative impetus that religion ought to be exercised from international affairs if one valued international peace, the disregard of religion by International Relations scholars was also spurred by the intellectual conviction, predominant during much of the cold war era, that a realist model best captured the dynamics of international politics(Bellin, 2008, p.327). This model assumed that states were the primary building blocks of the international system and that state pursuit of interests defined as “the quest for power and wealth” constituted the main driver of international affairs.
Ideas were largely secondary forces in this process-instrumental in the states’ quest for power and wealth. Religion as a subject of ideas was similarly relegated to the sidelines. Liberal scholars eventually challenged a section of the assumptions from the realist model, especially its state centrism. They made space for ideas in international politics in the form of laws, institutions, and regimes that limited anarchy and fostered cooperation in the international system (Bellin, 2008, p.327). But like the realists, they largely ignored the significance of religion in international affairs, and also did the subfield’s “constructivist turn” in the 1990s do much to resurrect the subject of religion. Constructivist scholars problematized the notion of state interest and injected identity and ideas into the political construction of state objectives. But rarely was the study of religious identity or religious ideas central to their intellectual agenda.
All this has changed of late. In comparative politics, the stimulus for bringing religioninto the mainstream of the discipline has been the increasing methodological sophistication of students of religion (Bellin, 2008, p.330). More and more we see the emergence of scholars interested not solely in analytic description and comparative statics but also in a theoretically ambitious hypothesis generation. These scholars embrace puzzle-driven research. Their work is explicitly comparative in design. They bring to the enterprise a host of sophisticated tools, both quantitative and qualitative, and are well versed in the competing comparative approaches, from rational choice to historical institutionalism.
Most importantly, many of these scholars explicitly link their findings to larger questions in the field, focusing on the relationship between agency and structure, ideas and institutions, contingency and path dependence. Consequently, even comparative analysts with little interest in the particulars of the evangelical movement in Latin America or the institutional structure of Shiism in Iran have good reason to take notice of this work.
In International Relations, the spur to bringing religion into the mainstream has been less methodological than empirical. Real-world events have forced reconsideration of the subject. The end of the cold war unleashed a surge of identity politics in the international arena, with some of its cast in religious terms. But what really swelled the American audience for inquiry into the impact of religion on international relations were the events of September 11 and the rise of what was perceived as a religiously driven, transnational terrorist movement. “La Revanche de Dieu” had reached American shores in violent and threatening fashion and International Relations Specialists felt pressed to explain its implications for international order and security (Bellin, 2008, p.343).
Significance of religion in politics
Campbell, D.E. and Putnam, R.D argue that“religion has contributed significantly in Americans political life ever since the day that the pilgrims set off the May flower. They ascertain that those who were faithful werekey participants, in most of the major social movements in United States history, conservativelyas well asprogressively. Also, the close relationship between religion and politics over the last forty years has been unusual, more so, the degree to which religion itself has been politicized. It’s evident that the influence of religion in the politics of the United States politics has hit a high-water mark, more so on the right” (Campbell & Putnam, 2012, p.34). The role of religion in Americans’ personal lives is also ebbing. Majority of the Americans, more so the young, have pulled off from religion due to the strong connection between religion and politics.
The two further argue that there would be no surprise due to the degree of connection between religion and politics in a nation that is highly religious and democratic. United States political parties (in the 19th century) had divisions based on sectarian lines: “high church versus the low church, liturgical versus pietistic, Catholic versus Protestant, among others. (Campbell & Putnam, 2012, p.35).
In fact, over the last 20 years, church attendance has become the main dividing line between Republican and Democratic voters. “African Americans are a sharp, but singular, exception; although most Democratic voters are now secular, African Americans, the most loyal Democrats, are also the most religious group in the United States” (Campbell & Putnam, 2012, p.35). A team of consultants specialized in teaching Democratic candidates, even before the 2008 presidential election, how to “do God,”in order for them to eat into the Republicans’ support among religious Americans. In 2008, the God gap remained as wide as ever with data collected among whites depicting, 67 percent of those who went to church on a weekly basis voted for Senator John McCain, compared against the 26 percent who never went to church on a regular basis (Campbell & Putnam, 2012, p.36).
The bond between religion and political conservation has been deeply embedded in contemporary United States culture that it is startling to recall just how new the alignment is. In the 1960s, churchgoers were actually more likely than non-churchgoers to be Democrats. Into the 1980s, there were still plenty of progressives in the pews on Sunday morning and plenty of conservatives who stayed home. The rather sudden shift since then has, and will have, both short-term and long-term implications for both politics and religion. For now, Republicans must seek to appease their fervently religious base without alienating a general electorate that increasingly finds the mixture of religion and politics distasteful. The trend of thehistoric role of religion could be undermined in the long run in the U.S., due to rejection of organized religion by the young population (Campbell & Putnam, 2012, p.37).
Negative Influence of Religion
With the rise of the religious right came the much-discussed God gap between Republicans and Democrats. Each year, fewer and fewer Americans identify as secular Republicans or religious Democrats. Surprisingly, religion has mostly determined religious practice. Formerly religious Democrats, except among African Americans, have drifted away from church, and formerly unobservant Republicans have found religion (Campbell & Putnam, 2012, p.42).
According to Winston, theinteraction between religionand politicsis thelatest two-step in a long-standing dance. When New England’s earliest colonists began cataloguing and circulating news of important events, they framed their stories with a religious perspective: divine providence played a decisive role in covering and interpreting everyday occurrences. Media historian David Paul Nord, probing the place where “printing, printed news and the newspaper first flowered in America,” found that “the characteristics of American news-its subject matter and its method of reporting-are deeply rooted in the religious culture of seventeenth century New England” (Winston, 2007, p.969).
Religious studies scholar Tracy Fessenden pushesthe nexus of writing andreligion further, surveying three centuries of American literature to show how a specific Protestant identity (Fessenden draws on Catherine Albanese’s notion of “public Protestantism”) became thedefault mode for religion in U.S. public life.3 Fessenden writes, “New England Protestantism elicited assent to its own claims to historical and national primacy by framing theprogress of both history and the nation in Protestant terms.”4 As a result, the subsequent construction of “secularism,” “pluralism,” and “church/state separation” implicitly manifested thebinding and buttressing of a North Atlantic Protestant perspective on U.S. democracy, religion, power, and privilege (Winston, 2007, p.973).
This perspective, which Fessenden calls a “strand of post-Calvinist Protestantism whose popularization renders it so pervasive as to become invisible to many observers,” became thedominant (if invisible) frame for twentieth century knowledge workers, including the media. “It’sparticularly a blend of politics and religion, which is, secular American democracy, grew so distant from its Christian origins that a political movement of conservative religious leaders coalesced to challenge it” [sic](Winston, 2007, p.973).
The mainstream that initially dismissed Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority as redneck religion, but public response to Richard John Neuhaus’s. The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America, published in 1984, demonstrated a pent-up appetite forthe inclusion of faith-based ideas and values in public life. Neuhaus’s call itself was somewhat disingenuous because religion and religious values were part of public life. Moreover, they had been part of the news mix for 150 tears, ever since James Gordon Bennett, a penny press pioneer and publisher of the New York Herald, realized religion made good copy (Winston, 2007, p.981).
According to Winston, the real issue was not whether to cover religion but whose religion was covered, how it was described, and where the story was played in the newspaper. According to Sarah Forbes Orwig, the amount of religion coverage remained constant between 1893 and 1998, but the type of coverage shifted. “Substantive” coverage-reporting on the substance of faith and initially done through daily devotionals, sermon reviews, and explications of why and what people believe-evolved into conflict stories about theology and politics. “Functional” coverage, entwining religion with politics to illustrate faith’s role in society, gradually changed from hard news stories to human-interest pieces on social activism (Winston, 2007, p.982).
In 1984, religious conservatives gleaned little substantive or functional coverage. Their belief that Christianity should have an explicit bearing on public life and governance was at odds with the notion of secular American democracy. But in the two decades since, Neuhaus and his confederates have gained significant ground in framing public understanding of religion’s role in American life and, as a result, in altering the dominant news narrative. Reporters, whose perspective had obscuredthe resurgence and strengthening the vitality of conservative religion, eventually adopted the new frame as their own, as much due to skillful manipulation as world events (Winston, 2007, p.983). There has been an increased interest in self-conscious religious identity. It has advantaged conservative Christianity while moderate and progressive strands have been marginalized, if not ignored. Thus, despitethe current catch phrase that journalists are “getting” religion, many remain clueless. Why and how this is saying as much about the confluence of religion, politics and media within the U.S. as it does about the state of contemporary news media (Winston, 2007, p.983).
American religious groups have historically been distinctive in their adaptability and self-correcting tendencies. Rather than signaling the certain death of religion, the 2011 nationwide survey found hints that, feeling the heat from too close association with partisan politics, religious leaders were beginning to pull back. Indeed, one of the most significant differences between our 2006 and our 2011 data was the drop-off in political activity within U.S. religious congregations. In 2006, 32 percent of Americans who belonged to a congregation reported hearing sermons with political content “once every month or two” or “several times a month.” By 2011, that figure had fallen to 19 percent. The trend held among those of all religious traditions, in all regions of the country, among conservatives and liberals, young and old, and urban and rural. Presumably, clergy across the country have sensed what we see in the data, namely, Americans’ growing aversion to blurring the lines between God and Caesar. So they have opted to stick to God (Campbell & Putnam, 2012, p.42).
The decrease in politicking from the pulpit will likely not have an immediate effect on the God gap. The chasm has become a fixture of the U.S. party system and is likely to persist in the short term, barring a sweeping political realignment. However, if clergy continue to retreat from politics, candidates of the religious right will have fewer opportunities to tap into church-based social networks for political mobilization. Moreover, if Republicans continue their exclusive alignment with organized religion, they will encounter ever more resistance from moderate voters, especially in the younger generation, who are in their politically formative years now and will be around for a long time (Campbell & Putnam, 2012, p.43).
Future historians may well see the last third of the twentieth century as an anomaly, a period in which religion and public life in the United States became too partisan for the good of either republican politicians facing the loss of the religiously moderate middle class or pastors ;seeing a rapid graying of their dwindling flock are both paying a belated but serious price for the religious right’s dip into politics (Campbell & Putnam, 2012, p.43). Beyond that, all sides-progressive and conservative, religious and secular-should be concerned that placing a partisan label on religion has hurt the ability of religious leaders to summon moral arguments on behalf of causes that transcend left and right. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s prophetic call for racial justice was persuasive in part because his words and deeds drew on powerful religious symbolism that could not be reduced to base partisanship. Indeed, religion has historically inspired change across the U.S. political spectrum. American public discourse-and the country at large-will be impoverished if religion is reduced to a mere force for partisan mobilization.
According to Wapner, “the left waged this struggle not by denying faith or religious sentiment but by arguing that these things simply don’t belong in the public realm. Religion is a private matter-best left to individuals and their chosen religious communities.” They have always protected the right to private religious practice and stands firmly behind religious freedom, including the freedom to be an atheist.” They get concerned, however, when people try to impose a particular form of worship or practice on others. This happens most coercively when the state gets involved (Wapner, 2004, p.78).
Religion and International Politics
The separation between church and state is essential to liberal policies. Something is bound to happen when political problems are not simply matters of economic, social, and governmental engineering, but involves deeper challenges related to our inner lives. We recognize that achieving peace, justice, and environmental well-being requires not only changing public policies, but also our sense of self, and quality relationships, the depth of our generosity, and our capacity to respond to nature and the human condition with awe and wonderment-areas long examined by religious and spiritual traditions. According to Wepner, these latter aspects are integral to political life and that healing and transforming the world involves both external and internal changes.” As Michael Lerner continually tells us, our collective problems are crises of the spirit as much as they are of the polity (Wapner, 2004, p.78).
The Russian-Georgian war of August 2008 was used as a case study by Werkner. The military conflict between Georgia and Russia, which ended with the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Russia, clearly worsened the political situation in Georgia. The unresolved conflicts surrounding the two separatist provinces prove to not only be a significant obstacle to development in Georgia but also resonate beyond the region. The Russian- Georgian war is considered an example where both political sides allowed the conflict to escalate, but at the same time both religious communities advocated peace and an end to the war (Wapner, 2004, p.79).
There is a separation between Church and State in both countries. Traditionally, however, closer relations exist between Church and State in Orthodox Christianity, as expressed in the term Symphonia. Symphonia refers to “harmony” of Church and State; both realities are different manifestations of one and the same truth, but both institutions are independent and equally important. State and Church therefore have their own autonomy and they cooperate with each other in certain cases. Cooperation is also regarded as necessary in some respects (Werkner, 2010, p.237).
This relationship is legally expressed in the accentuated position of the Orthodox Church as opposed to other religious communities, such as through the 1997 Russian Religion Law or the 2001 Concordat between the Georgian State and the Georgian Orthodox Church (Werkner, 2010, p.242) high value is also placed on the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Church in each society. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Orthodox Churches experienced an enormous upturn in support. Many churches were reopened, congregations re-formed and many people publicly professed their Orthodox faith. In the meantime, around 71% of the population in Russia, 32% and around 84% of the population in Georgia 33% refer to themselves as Orthodox. According to the fifth wave of the World Values Survey carried out from 2005 to 2007, as many as 74 per cent of the Russian and 97 percent of the Georgian population see themselves as religious persons. Both churches are held in high public esteem. Sixty-eight percent of the Russian and 94 percent of the Georgian respondents have a lot of confidence in the church. This confidence also includes the religious elites. Thus, the census in Georgia also reveals a high popularity rating for the Georgian Patriarch Ilia II. Ninety-seven percent of respondents assess his social activity as positive.37 Moreover, 47 per cent of the Russian, and 85 percent of the Georgian population agree that it would be better if more people with strong religious beliefs were in public office (Werkner, 2010, p.243). In the light of this situation, the prerequisite of releasing religious peace-making potential, according to Weingard (2007), is definitely present.
In electoral research, the dominant secularization concept is that of a declining relevance with respect to religion in the public picture and its result in voting behavior that is the declining relevance or eventual disappearance of religion as a structuring force in electoral and party politics. Class conflict was seen as the central element in party competition (Minkenberg, 2010, p.115) against this secularist backdrop.
This is certainly true for Great Britain. Since Disraeli’s discovery of the ‘two nations’ in 1845 and especially in the course of industrialization and the growing salience of the social question in the late nineteenth century, the class cleavage tended to marginalize all other cleavages, including the religious one, well into the era of Margaret Thatcher. But even in the ‘motherland of the class struggle’, the class cleavage underwent an erosion since the 1970s on the basis of the Alford-Index, (as cited in Inglehart. 1990, 260; Dalton. 2008: 145-152) and others demonstrated a downward shift in the electoral polarization between members of the working class who vote ‘left’ and members of the middle and upper classes who vote ‘right’ or ‘center/right’ (Minkenberg, 2010, p.115).
This raises the question whether the religious cleavage underwent a similar trajectory. Many researchers provide an unambiguous answer: ‘Like the socioeconomic issue dimension, the religious dimension has generally declined in importance in the post-World War II period’ (Minkenberg, 2010, p.117). At first glance, however, empirical evidence does not support such a view. If there is one cleavage which despite all fluctuations has exhibited a rather stable structuring force in party competition over the entire post World War II-period, it is the religious cleavage. Only a few authors have made the point early on that the religious cleavage, not the class cleavage is the major cleavage in post-war Western societies (Minkenberg, M. 2010). Originally, this cleavage was defined in confessional terms, following Lipset and Rokkan. But Catholic voting in Western democracies generally went into two opposite directions (Minkenberg, 2010, p.117).
In continental Europe, Catholics largely voted for the parties of the Center or the Right. In Anglo-American democracies, on the other hand, where they constituted for a long time an immigrant community which was often discriminated against by the Protestant majority and which belonged largely to the working class, they voted for the left. This pattern reflects two strands of political Catholicism, an open and a closed Catholicism, the first being characterized by the absence of a Catholic party, a reluctance of the clergy to play a political role, and a non-confessional basis of social organizations such as trade unions, and the latter by the opposite criteria (Minkenberg, 2010, p.120)
The general pattern still holds true at the turn of the twentieth to the twenty-first century, for a few selected democracies in Europe and beyond. However, behind these general patterns, a few significant changes occurred. For the United States, this snapshot shows the endpoint of a long-lasting realignment. Until the 1960s, White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, especially members of the mainline churches, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Lutherans, voted predominantly for the Republican Party and candidates, whereas Catholics were bedrock in the New Deal coalition of the Democrats.
This polarization has eroded by the 1990s (Minkenberg, 2010, p.121). Catholics are almost evenly divided into a Democrat and a Republican camp. In 2000, white Catholics preferred Bush to gore by a wide margin, and this pattern continued when Catholic candidate John Kerry trailed the Protestant incumbent by 5 percentage points among Catholic voters (Minkenberg, 2010, p.121). Jewish voters continue to stick with the Democrats by an overwhelming majority (which in 2004 was helped by a Jewish running mate on the Democratic ticket); another Democratic advantage exists among non-religious voters, Black Protestants, and voters with other than Christian or Jewish faiths. On the other hand, among white Protestants, Republicans still outnumber Democrats significantly, but largely this is the effect of Evangelicals’ loyalty to Republicans whereas among mainline or reformed Protestants, Republicans lost their historical advantage (Minkenberg, 2010, p.121). In contrast to the times before the Christian Right began to mobilize heavily Protestant fundamentalists, the Republican Party today can count on this group as a bulwark in its electoral coalition (Minkenberg, 2010, p.121).
In the 2004 Presidential elections, Republican strategists mobilized an additional 4 million voters, mostly fundamentalists, and almost 80 per cent of them voted for George W. Bush. In Great Britain, the traditionally strong ties of Anglicans to the Conservative party – according to Macauly the Anglican Church was ‘the Tory party at prayer’ – has considerably weakened, though not disappeared, while the massive support of Catholics for Labor continued, as did that of members of the Church of Scotland (Minkenberg, 2010, p.123).
The leaning of Catholics towards the Left can also be observed in other non-European democracies such as Australia and Canada. But in Australia, the Catholics have become less supportive of the labor Party since the 1960s because of a split among Catholics over the ALP’s ‘soft’ politics on Communism. In a 1949 survey, 74 per cent of Catholics in Australia indicated to vote for Labor, this number dropped to 40 per cent in 1966. In the 1983 elections 55 per cent of the Catholics voted labor which was only slightly above the 53 per cent of the general labor vote (Minkenberg, 2010, p.124).
Despite these fluctuations, the difference in voting behavior for the Conservatives (the Liberal-National coalition) among the confessional groups remained rather stable with Catholics being least supportive, members of the Uniting Church most supportive and Anglicans in the middle (Minkenberg, 2010, p.124). Finally, also in Canada, a confessional cleavage tends to persist with marked differences in voting behavior of Protestants, Catholics and Jews. Hence, in Britain, as well as in the other English-speaking democracies, the legacies of the ‘open’ and left-leaning Catholicism still play out at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
In Germany, the traditional alignment patterns among Catholics and Protestants continue to this day with the CDU/CSU enjoying considerable support among Catholics in the past few Bundestag elections while the SPD was the majority party among Protestants and non-confessional voters. But also, here, some trends of weakening ties can be observed, especially among Catholic voters (Minkenberg, M. 2010). France, like Italy, Portugal and Spain an almost mono-Catholic country (with 80 per cent of the French being nominally Catholic) despite its tradition of laïcité diverges from the patterns in Protestant dominated countries in that Catholics seem more balanced politically.
In the 1990s, Socialists and neo-Gaullists received each about 30 per cent of support from Catholics in national elections. However, this was not always the case. In the first 15 years of the V Republic, only 17 per cent of the Catholics voted Socialist, only after 1974 did this figure go up to 33 per cent. But by and large, in times of advanced secularism in France, the Catholic voters still adhere to the political Center and Right. In contrast, among non-Catholic voters, to which belongs a growing number of Muslims, party preferences are not evenly patterned. In 1996 as well as 2002, parties of the Left were supported by more than two-thirds of this group(Minkenberg, M. 2010).In sum, the confessional cleavage (Catholics vs. non-Catholics) seems to persist by and large in Europe as well as in non-European democracies into the twenty-first century although there are numerous signs that it is weakening(Minkenberg, 2010, p.126).
According to Werkener, in the area of international politics, the renaissance of religion was closely associated with the change in the international system and the decline of statehood. Two moments characterize this development: globalization with the increasing emergence of international, transnational and private players, and the end of the Cold War with the abolition of rigid, bipolar structures and the eruption of previously concealed ethnic and identity conflicts. One expression of this change is the emergence of so-called new wars (Werkener, 2010, p.243).
While modern warfare was traced to the nation-state and resulted in an internal pacification of the State, the new wars are essentially characterized by the emergence of private non-governmental players. Wars between regular armies are being replaced by a variety of violent players, who primarily target the civilian population. The State is thereby losing its monopoly when it comes to fighting wars. The interests of the State no longer constitute the primary reference frameworks, thereby freeing the way to a cultural restructuring of war. Many of these new wars follow the logic of an “ethnicization” of social relationships, and in many cases this is equivalent to “religicization”.18 Mark Duffield speaks of a “neo-medieval situation” in this context (Werkener, I. 2010).
Religion and religious identities are increasingly gaining significance. In this, their capacity to mobilize people is frequently utilized. Violent players and protagonists of the new wars may exploit this religious impetus in order to reach their goals or mobilize members of their respective religious group, especially if economic and political sources are no longer sufficient. In particular, the group’s sense of belonging is addressed here, the claim of truth made by religion enters their consciousness, and a distinction is made between good and evil, as well as between an in-group and an out-group (Werkener, 2010, p.247).
For ages, religion has had a significant influential impact on politics and political alliances both regionally and internationally. Religion, being one of the key determinants of political alignment both regionally and internationally is vital to these studies. Religion has affected various international alliances due to its impact in the society. The major religions that have had the greatest impact among others are Christianity and Islam. Religion has both negative and positive effects on politics and international alliances as the kind of alliances formed may depend on the religion of the members of the alliance. Religion would bare good fruits for politics and international alliances only if it has used and applied appropriately.
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