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Religion and Politics

American flag flying in front of church

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“It seems to me that religion and politics are inextricably intertwined. So much so, in fact, that I think religion is simply politics by another name. Was this always the case or is this something new?”

It seems to me that religion and politics are inextricably intertwined. So much so, in fact, that I think religion is simply politics by another name. Was this always the case or is this something new? Rabbi Rami: Religion and politics have been intertwined from the beginning. While some argue religion is about ethics and politics is about power, I would say both are about power. For example, every religion, albeit each in its own way, affirms the ethic of “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31), yet every religion defines “neighbor” in such a way so as to restrict love to those people the politically powerful find useful. This is religious ethics in service to political power, at which point the difference between religion and politics is moot. I’m not religious but I do believe in God. My son asked me to define what I mean when I say “God.” When I said I couldn’t, he challenged me to stop using words I couldn’t define. Do you think he’s right? Yes. While I understand that many people find the word “God” comforting in and of itself without needing to define it, I suggest you a …

About the Author

Rabbi Rami Shapiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. In the print version of our magazine, he has...

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