Politics grows out of religion

Alongside every religion lies some political opinion which is linked to it by affinity. If the human mind is allowed to follow its own bent, it will regulate political society and the City of God in the same uniform manner and will, I dare say, seek to harmonize earth and heaven.

— Alexis de Tocqueville[1] —

Tocqueville is on to something here. I would argue, however, that the connection between religion and political opinion is a stronger one than mere affinity. It is more accurate to say that politics grows out of religion. This is so regardless of the religion in question, even those that are not usually recognized as such. The self-proclaimed secular man, for instance, who is the first to shout, “Separation of church and state!” is in reality no less religious than the most fundamental of Christian fundamentalists; nor is he seeking any the less to “harmonize earth and heaven” in accordance with his religious views. Their respective religions are quite different, but their political enterprise is the same.

[1] Democracy in America, trans. by Gerald E. Bevan (New York, NY:  Penguin Books, 2003), pp. 336


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