Religion and Government
Religion and government are interrelated in many ways. For example, political party support in the United States is associated with religious preference. In the 1982 Congressional elections, Democratic candidates were supported by 47 percent of the Protestant voters, by 60 percent of the Catholics, and by 75 percent of the Jews [Public Opinion, 5:36, December/january 1983]. No candidate for high elective office admits to being an atheist or agnostic, and all three presidential candidates in 1980 claimed to be “born again” Christians. The percent of Americans believing that “religion IS gaining influence” upon American life has fluctuated widely in recent years, from 36 percent in 1965, ‘to 15 percent in 1970, to 45 percent in 1976, to 39 percent in 1978 (Public Opinion. 3:35, December/Ianuary, 1980). Religious leaders often seem to have little power as compared with government leaders. This attitude was expressed in blunt fashion by the late Soviet dictator, [osef Stalin. When advised that the Pope had criticized some of his policies, he replied: “How many army divisions does he. have?” [Sulzberger, 1958]. There are times, however, when religious leaders have effectively humbled monarchs. One may cite the incident when Henry II of England walked barefoot to the tomb of Thomas a Becket to submit to the discipline of the priests of Canterbury Cathedral [Durant, 1950, p. 761]. The Shah of Iran was a nearly absolute monarch with a lavishly equipped modern army. The Muslim leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, had no arms or money and lived as all exile in Paris. However, his calls to Muslims to revolt against a ruler who allegedly had violated their religion were so effective that the Shah, fled and his government fell. Evidently, army divisions are not the only source of power. State-church conflict is a persistent part of social life. There are perennial issues such as the legitimacy of surgical operations.