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Feather's Miscellany: Democracy And Religion

John Waddington-Feather says that Christianity can only flourish in a true democracy.

Democracy is our bulwark against tyranny, the guardian of the individual , and religion the bastion of free speech. It is the youngest of the world’s governance, but also the most vulnerable. When democracy is threatened, so are our rights and with them our destinies. We cease to be individuals and become merely masses ruled by the state.

Democracy is vulnerable because by its very nature it can be overturned in a flash by a dictator like Stalin or an oligarchy. Nazi Germany was spawned not by seizure of power, but initially by a democratic election manipulated by Hitler. He abused freedom of speech to poison a nation’s mind and soul to elect him to power. Then he crushed freedom of worship and persecuted the Jews and other groups. And in today’s world, religious freedom is being crushed – sometimes even in the name of God!

True democracy nurtures true religion and provides all faiths or none with the means to explore truth. It nurtures the spirit as well as the mind, enabling the one to foster the other. Yet there is always the danger that religion itself can become the means of oppression When there is no division between state and church, when secular power is invested in religion and clerics assume control, then narrow-minded unworldly religious leaders impose their will on others, nullifying the teaching of Christ: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

When Christ told his disciples to go out into the world and baptise men and women, he didn’t tell them to conquer and impose Christianity on them or convert them by force; he told them to teach others what he had taught them and revealed to them about God. In other words, I believe, they were to offer people of different religions and cultures the truths he had taught his disciples, which hopefully they would take on board even if they didn’t convert to Christianity. Truth cannot be hid in a democracy.

Christianity is not a religion hidebound by laws and a narrow-minded, clergy. It is an open religion continually trying to serve God and at the same time serving our fellow men and women. It is a religion where each individual has to think through what he or she believes, basing their belief on Christ’s teachings and communion with God through prayer.

Christianity in our present world can flourish only where there is true democracy, where there is a real interchange of ideas, where there is tolerance and dialogue. Democracy is the realisation that we are all born free and equal. If there is freedom to think and speak, then whatever our race or creed, Christians believe we are all beneficiaries of God’ universal Love, Mind and Spirit.

John Waddington-Feather ©

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