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Examining Concepts in World Religions

1. The doctrine of the "separation of church and state" has been very significant for American political thought. How do politics and government influence religion? How does religion influence politics and government? In your opinion, what should the relationships among them be?

2. Are Taoism and Confucianism truly religions? Argue both sides.

3. Many in the West are familiar with the samurai and his warrior code. Westerners have been especially fascinated with his willingness to commit suicide before facing dishonor. Why does this notion seem so foreign to Westerners? What religious ideals are embodied by the samurai?

Solution Preview

1. How do politics and government influence religion? How does religion influence politics and government?

I will assume that you are referring to the present. In your studies of the "separation of church and state," you would have learned that religion had a great influence on the political and government realms prior to the separation. This is observed on a worldwide level. In many nations you will find that religion strongly influenced the socio-cultural "rules" that citizens lived by whether it was Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism to name a few. In both cases, since religion was influential in constructing and forming the social environment of nations, it would be very difficult for world societies to re-construct and re-form their societies even when laws are passed to modernize society.

Now, there are varying degrees of the separation of religion and politics in many countries. If you are examining the U.S.A. and Canada, they have a history of being Christian. Technically, the church and the state are separate, however, when you examine the socio-cultural functioning of politics and government, you will see that religion has not completely dissociated with politics and government. You can observe this in the passing of laws and/or bills such as in the equal rights for women in the twentieth century and in LGBTQ rights in the twenty-first century.

You can view the progression of influence as follows:

RELIGION/BELIEF SYSTEM ----> SOCIAL ----> CULTURAL ---> ENVIRONMENT ---> POLITICAL ---> GOVERNMENT

The above can also be viewed in terms of a cyclical development because individuals, who are a product of their environments, and are occupying government positions would usually hold to some type of belief system/religion which had influenced the social and cultural make-up of the individual's environment which in turn would have ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides guidelines on religion and political thought. It examines how politics and government influence religion and vice versa, how religion influences politics and government. The solution also provides guidelines on examining whether Taoism and Confucianism are truly religions. Finally, the solution discusses the samurai, the warrior code and its religious ideals, and why the notion of dishonor is foreign to Westerners.

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