Religion and Politics

A literary examination of the relationship between religion and politics throughout history.

This paper examines some of the relationships between religion and politics that have emerged in different historical contexts in different parts of the world, with a concentration on the United States. It looks at some of the many ways in which religion is influenced and, in turn, influences politics and how politics and power are configured in the world today. It is based on four main readings: Frank Lambert?s “Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America”; Michael Perry?s “Under God? Faith and Liberal Democracy”; and the political writings of Augustine and Aquinas.
“Through his book, Lambert traces the origin of two sets of what he terms “spiritual fathers” who had a guiding hand in the development of religion in the early United States: one set, the “Planting Fathers” who brought with them, as we have seen, the dream of building “a city on a hill” i.e., old world ideas about the place of religion in society; the next set, the “Founding Fathers”, he identifies by their act of constitutionalizing religion in the early days of the formation of the United States. As he argues, in the first section of the book, the “Planting Fathers” proselythized the “one true faith”, whereas the Founding Fathers, rather, emphasized religious freedom over the puritanical nature of religion.”