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Democracy and Religion: Modern Theories Essay

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Updated: May 30th, 2020


Democracy can be defined as a form of government where all the citizens in the country have equal rights to make a decision in electing their leaders. The citizens of such a region or country have equal participation in electing their leaders. In addition, any member of the country may vie for any seat if he or she wishes to be a leader. The citizens of such a country may participate directly or indirectly in electing their leaders who act as their representatives in the national building. The leaders help in creating the laws, as well as governing the region and initiating development projects. The law that governs a country also considers the social, cultural, and economic factors of the country.

Democracy can also be defined as the government initiated and driven by the people, and it originated from a Greek word the “demokratia”. Democracy is different from other forms of government in that power is held by democratically elected leaders. These leaders exercise their power as stipulated by the country’s laws. The law is supreme, and no one is above the law. The law reigns supreme, and it is considered to be the final judge if one of the citizens contravenes the rule of law. A democratic government is practiced in most parts of the world. In this case, people are given the right to select their leaders depending on the qualities of the leaders. The leader selected by the majority vote is declared the winner and has the mandate to rule for a given period. A democratic government is not always fair as some people when exercising their democratic rights may elect a leader who fails to gunner the majority vote and thus their vote does not count (Lansford, 56).


Religion can be defined as a collection of cultural systems and belief systems that relate the people’s spirituality. Religion also incorporates the moral values of people who follow these guidelines or doctrines. Religion also includes the cultural belief, values, norms, and social practice of people. Culture is the cultivation of the soul or mind of a person to follow a given set of guidelines. Cultural belief is the cultivation of a person’s mind to follow a given set of rules as established by a certain group of people. It is the philosophy of a person to have a set of similar and accepted norms that are followed by his or her peers. Cultural values are the accepted ideas of a certain group of people follow. The values are seen as the just, right and fair to all who follow the guidelines in a given society. Cultural values can also be defined as the commonly followed standards of acceptable behavior in a given society or community. A cultural norm is accepted behavior among people of a certain group.

The norms are seen as behaviors that dictate the law of the society. Sociologists usually view norms as the laws that govern a given group of people where individuals are required to follow the set norms. It is a societal expectation for individuals to follow and adhere to the set cultural norms as they outline each day’s responsibility. Social practice is the art and design that involves activities that are unique to a given community setting and are geared towards the interests of the community. Social practice involves broad social networks and cultural practices where expert legal advice is required to define any social disagreement. Social practice involves evaluating the difference in social and shared understanding through the skills of a given individual among the community. Social practice tries to bring the social mind of individuals in the community to one understanding for better policy formulation in the society (Odell-Scott, 61).

Religion is sometimes used to mean the faith of people where people have a belief in a superior being who they pray to and worship. Religion gives people the power to exercise their freedom of worship. In some communities, all the people are required to adhere to a certain set doctrine that constitute the full membership without fail. Across the world, there are more than 4200 established religions that govern the behavior of people and their morals. The different religions have holy places where they undertake their religious services and are led by a clergy or a leader appointed to guide people in worshipping. Religion has been in existence for quite some time. In fact, it has been argued that religion is as old as the human race. In this case, the followers of a given religion exercised their freedom to worship a Supreme Being. Religion is universal as people around the world subscribe to various religions. However, there has been an attempt for each religion to expand beyond countries and borders in an effort to seek acceptance of all human races. There exists different religions in the world today including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and the Chinese folk religion among others (Kunin, 23).

Democracy and Religion

For quite some time, religion has been used to influence the governance of different countries. This is especially in the African continent and some part of the Middle East. In such countries, the democracies have been attributed to the extent of following a religious doctrine. When the European countries established colonies in Africa, they first came as missionary. In this case, they spread the gospel to the primitive Africans who had no formal government system. They came as Christian missionaries before subjecting the local people to the rule of law in their home countries. It was a move to harness the resource of these African countries. This led to the introduction of Christianity that was different from the traditional African religion, and people had to follow the changed religious beliefs. The rights of Africans were infringed, and most of them suffered at the hand of these Europeans (Vries, 47).

Some religions in the world are related as they originated from the same source. For instance, most religions trace their origin from Abraham and are thus referred to as Abrahamic religions. Abrahamic religions include Judaism, Christianity, the Baha’i Faith, Samaritanism, and Islam. Islam and Christianity are regarded as some of the world’s major religions. The two religions have impacted on the democracy or rule of law in countries. Christianity can attribute its origin from Abraham who is viewed as the servant of God. They follow a holy scripture called the Bible, which has two Testaments: the Old Testament and the New Testament. Christianity is based on the teaching and the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is regarded as the son of God. The Christians believe in the holy trinity of the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. However, they have been divided to form Catholic Church, the Eastern Christianity, and the Protestant. The religion is widely spread in the world. Therefore, it has a great effect on the governance of many countries. In some cases, the religious doctrines do not allow their followers to exercise their democratic right. In this case, religion bars individuals from participating in democracy or endorses candidates to be elected by followers (Tilly, 58).

Religious Democracy

Religious democracy can be defined as a form of leadership or government where the morals and values of the religion play a role in the way the government is run. Religion has a role in influencing the rule of law in a country. The religion can influence the democracy of a country if most of the citizens in the country are members of the same religion. In this regard, religious doctrines propose the required values to be followed. In some instances, the dominant religion dominates the democratic process whereby the minority groups are not elected. This is seen as an abuse of democracy in that the religion with fewer members cannot form the government as the minorities are not consulted in constituting the government. The leaders of the religion claim that democracy is not abused when the faith is not embraced.

On the part of the Islamic religion, most of its teaching is contained in the holy book known as the Quran. The teaching guides the lives of its followers in their daily activities, and they determine how leaders will be elected. Thus, the religion has a lot of influence on the governance of most countries where the religion dominant. The religion is one of the Abrahamic Religions, and it is widely followed in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and some Asian countries. The religion has strict values and morals that followers have to follow. Therefore, it plays a big role in influencing the behavior of individuals in a country. In some countries where sharia law is applied, religion forms the basis of governance of such countries and dictates the behavior of people. In countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which are regarded as Islamic republics, the Islamic doctrines take precedent and thus its role in the country governance is paramount.

Some of its teachings discriminate against women empowerment and thus do not regard women as leaders. In this case, women cannot be elected as leaders, and this is an abuse of democracy (Odell-Scott, 61). Democracy is geared towards giving citizens the power to elect their leaders without outside influence. When this right is infringed by a religion, then democracy ceases to exist in such a society. Democracy is supposed to be a right of individuals to elect their leaders. However, when the right is abused through religious forces, then the power does not lie in the hands of people. It is seen to lie in the teachings of a given religion. Some religious teachings are not at par with the rule of law. Religious interpretation should not contravene the rule of law, and the followers of any religion should be allowed to choose leaders of their choice. Religion should not mixed with democracy as it can deny the people the right to elect leaders of their choice (Vries, 47).

Works Cited

Kunin, Seth D. Religion: The Modern Theories. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2003. Print.

Lansford, Tom. Democracy. New York, N.Y: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2007. Print.

Odell-Scott, David W. Democracy and Religion: Free Exercise and Diverse Visions. Kent [u.a.: Kent State Univ. Press, 2004. Print.

Tilly, Charles. Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Print.

Vries, Hent. Religion: Beyond a Concept. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008. Print.

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