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Religious Studies

A Textbook


Adrián Slavkovský

This textbook offers a brief overview of the basic approaches to the scientific scrutiny of religion. To remain uninterested in examining religion is more difficult than examining any other object of research. In relation to issues of religion, we cannot stand as impartial observers, because we are always somehow involved. Therefore, this book emphasizes not only knowledge of religions, but also how to find ways to get closer to impartiality. It offers an overview of topics, questions, and context, rather than a coherent theory.
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12. Religion in the Contemporary World


Keywords: politics, economics, monopoly, science, complementarity

12.1 Religion and Politics

Over the past two decades, religionists have once again reviewed the relation of religion and politics. After a period when they stated or predicted the retreat of religion from public life and policy, scholars have recognised that religion is not disappearing, but in a variety of ways it influences the management of social life at all levels.

When we look to history, we notice that religion and politics are mutually intertwined and have created various compositions. Ever since the dawn of culture, people have tried to explain the world and cosmology through religion and the sacred, but also political issues dealing with the management of power. Some of the earliest civilisations joined these elements together in ← 101 | 102 → a unity, as it was, for example, in ancient Egypt, where pharaohs represented the greatest political power of the realm of the sacred. Similar types of connections can be found throughout history up to recent or current social systems, in particular totalitarian states. Several Islamic countries presently impose the Islamic law of Sharia onto their citizens (even non-Muslims). Other countries, such as North Korea, explicitly distance themselves from religion, but the cult of the leader and the glorification of theory and structures act as an implicit religion.

On the opposite pole on the imaginary scale of possible systems of politics and religion is cosmological dualism, in which religion and politics form distinct spheres that...

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