Religion As A Tool Of States Craft


Religion As A Tool Of States Craft, Essay, Research Paper

As Outlined By

Jean-Jacques Rousseau ?You produce a deadly

paradox,? Jessica had written. ?Government cannot be religious and self assertive

at the same time. Religious experience needs a spontaneity, which laws

inevitably suppress. And you cannot govern without laws. Your laws eventually

must replace morality, replace conscience, and replace even the religion by

which you think to govern. Sacred ritual must spring from praise and holy

yearnings, which hammer out a significant morality. Government on the other

hand, is a cultural organism particularly attractive to doubts, questions and

contentions. I see the day coming when ceremony must take the place of faith

and symbolism replaces morality.? Letter from the Lady Jessica

Atredies Dune Messiah. P.252. Religion

occurs as a component in virtually every society. With this in mind, one should

then also look at what function the religious component serves in societies.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau examines religion and its place in society in the social

contract and comes up with some very interesting things to say. He also leaves

the door open for the reader to come up with some interpretations of religion?s

function in their own rite. ??????????? According

to Rousseau, religion, specifically civic religion is an instrument of politics

established by the sovereign, or the legislator, and it serves a motivating

function. When a society is in its infancy, citizens are often unable to

understand the purpose of the law and the purpose behind the law. Therefore,

civic religion motivates the citizen to obey the law because the law is backed

by the divine and thus, they fear divine retribution if they do not follow the

law. When it comes to a developed society, civic religion encourages and

motivates people to maintain the habits of obedience in part because they have

grown to understand and love the law. Plus citizens used to obeying the divine,

will have less trouble obeying the law, as they are already accustomed to the

act of obedience. ??????????? It

is necessary to first, to clarify Rousseau?s ideas on religion. This is of

course not a simple task and leaves a fair bit up to the reader, as Rousseau?s

views were complex and subtle. There is however, merit to the fact that

Rousseau?s subtlety leaves room to interpretations that are not necessarily his

own, but no less valuable. In chapter eight of the Social Contract, Rousseau

seems to come up with four different types of religion. The first of these

types is what Rousseau terms as the ?religion of man.? According to Rousseau,

this is a religion that is ?without temples, altars, or rites.? It is, ?limited

to the purely internal cult of the supreme God and to the eternal duties of

morality?is the pure and simple religion of the Gospel, the true theism, and

what can be called natural divine law.?[1]

Rousseau sums up the ?religion of man? as Christianity. He does however make a

distinction between the current forms of Christianity that are being practiced,

and the one that he is speaking of. It is different in the fact that it is

focused on the Gospels and ?through this holy, sublime, true religion, men, in

being the children of the same God, all acknowledge one another as brothers,

and the society that united them is not dissolved even in death?[2]

While this sounds like an exhortation of Christianity as the best religious

choice, Rousseau goes on to find fault with this religious system in a state.

As true Christianity of this type requires that every citizen ascribe to the

same type of Christianity equally, with a continuity and similarity of beliefs

so that the citizens are all equally Christian, in order for peace and harmony

to be maintained in the society. For if the beliefs are not even and continuous

amongst citizens it will not be long before the citizens stop seeing each other

as brothers that are children of the same God, for different beliefs leads to

discontentment between the sects, with each sect believing itself to be the

true Christianity. Along with this Rousseau suggests also that it would be next

to impossible, and indeed very unlikely that every man would be equally

concerned only with things of heavenly nature. He goes on further to suggest

that Christianity is bad for the state for a number of reasons. He explains,

that Christianity is otherworldly, and therefore takes away from a citizen?s

love for life on earth as it is exemplified by the state. ?Christianity is a

wholly spiritual religion, concerned solely with the things of heaven; the

Christian?s homeland is not of this world.?[3]

As a consequence of this Christians are too detached from the real world as

they are constantly preparing and considering things in light of the eternal

life to come after this life is over. Moreover, Christians make bad soldiers,

once again because they are otherworldly. They won?t fight with the passion and

patriotism that a deadly army requires, as often times the requirements to be

an effective and deadly soldier run contrary to the beliefs that Christianity

calls for. Rousseau also anticipates that ?a single ambitious man, a single

hypocrite, a Cataline, for example, or a Cromwell, he would undoubtedly gain an

upper hand on his pious compatriots.?[4]

It is for these reasons that Rousseau while espousing Christianity as the ?true

theism? suggests that it would be less then beneficial for the ideal state that

he is designing. ??????????? Rousseau

defines the second form of religion as the ?religion of the citizen.? This is

the religion of a single country, a national religion. This type of religion is

highly organized and hierarchical, it has formal dogmas, teaches love of

country, obedience to the state, and martial values. The association Rousseau

makes is to the religion of the ancient Romans. The Islamic religions of the

Middle East would also fit into this framework. Outside the nation that

practices this kind of religion, everything is infidel, alien and barbaric. It

extends the duties and rights given to man only as far as its own altars.[5]

This type of religion, in Rousseau?s estimation can be good for some states, as

it unites the state, and love of its laws, with the ?divine cult.?? The counter point to this is that this type

of religion has the potential to make men superstitious and intolerant.

Further, when the boundary between church and state become clouded, citizens

may begin to ?believe that they are performing a bold action in killing anyone

who does not accept its gods.? They would see this action as having the backing

of the state, as in this case the state and the deity, or the religion of the

deity are fully intertwined, and having the blessing of God, as they are doing

his will. ??????????? Rousseau

points out a third kind of religion that he considers in his own terms to be

?more bizarre.?? He terms this religion

as the ?religion of the priest.? His example of this kind of bizarre religion

is the Roman Catholic faith. He calls it bizarre ?in giving men two sets of

legislation, two leaders, and two homelands, it subjects them to contradictory

duties and prevents them from being simultaneously devout men and citizens.?

Roman Catholic faith subjects citizens to both, the laws of the state and the

laws of the church. Not only are they subject to the authority that the head of

state has over them, but they are also subject to the authority of the pope,

via the church. In addition to this they are subject to the rule of the Vatican

as well as the rule of their homeland. For Rousseau the ?religion of the

priest? is ?so bad that it is a waste of time to amuse oneself by proving it.

Whatever breaks up social unity is worthless. All institutions that place man

in contradiction to himself are of no value.?[6]

There is also the possibility that Rousseau did not want to get into a full

critique of the Roman Catholic Church, as it was a fairly powerful entity in

that time, and not necessarily the best organization to be upsetting. ??????????? Since

Rousseau finds such serious faults with the first three types of religion that

he goes over, he puts forth a fourth type of religion as the most admirable and

for the proper citizen to adhere to in his society. He defines this as a ?civil

religion.? It is asserted that it is the duty of the Sovereign to require a

?purely civil profession of faith? and to establish the dogmas of a civil

religion. What he is pretty much saying without specifically saying it is that

the Sovereign needs to make up their own religion for their new state. The

Sovereign is to establish the dogmas of civil religion. Rousseau further

elaborates on this idea by stating that the dogmas of civil religion ought to

be simple, few in number, precisely worded, and without explanations or

commentaries. The dogmas should provide for a the existence of a omnipotent,

intelligent, omniscient, and benevolent divinity that foresees and provides;

the life to come; the happiness of the just; the punishment of the wicked; the

sanctity of the social contract, and of the laws of the state. These dogmas are

the positive dogmas that Rousseau instructs the Sovereign or the legislator to

incorporate into the new state. As for the negative dogmas I am limiting them

to just one, particularly intolerance.[7]

The power is then invested into the Sovereign to have the ability to banish

from the nation any citizen that does not follow these tenants. However, the

Sovereign does not banish one for being impious, rather, the Sovereign banishes

one for being unsocial. With this in mind we can then take a look at the

reasons why Rousseau feels that a civil religion is necessary, and it is through

looking at these reason that we come to understand how religion is a tool of

the state. ??????????? For

Rousseau a civil religion motivates the people of the state in two different

ways. In an emerging society religion is particularly useful as a tool of

states craft, because it creates an awe and fear of a power even larger then

the state, namely the divine. Rousseau characterizes people in these new

societies, as people who would be unable to understand the real purpose and

principals of the laws that the sovereign is laying out.[8]

By using this awe and fear of the divine as the backing for the state the

citizens will then also follow the laws of the state, for they have the backing

of the divine, and to disobey the divine is to risk great unpleasantness in the

afterlife. In turn he fears this lack of understanding, or ignorance of the

masses will interfere with their obedience to civil law. ??????????? Rousseau

understands the inherent difficulties that come with trying to institute a new

system of laws and the dilemmas that come with trying to impose them on a new

society. Rousseau places most of the responsibility for the implementation of

these laws on the Legislator.[9]

It is the Legislator?s duty to direct the people towards the common good, both

for the people and for the society. The people will not however simply follow

the Legislator simply because of the high intellect, or the sound reasoning

ability that the Legislator should possess, the people will follow the

Legislator because he has the backing of the divine, as the people are

accustomed to following, and will trust the will of the divine. Rousseau goes

on to assert that ?Since the Legislator is incapable of a using either force or

reasoning, he must of necessity have recourse to an authority of a different

order, which can compel without violence and persuade without convincing?[10]

It is in this passage in particular that Rousseau makes the closest allusion to

the specific use of religion as an instrument of politics. Religion then

becomes the means to convince the people to subject themselves to the laws of

the sate by borrowing the people?s inherent fear of God and using it, so that

they will follow the laws of the state because it is God?s will. Through this

instrument of states craft, the people will willingly submit themselves and

sign themselves over to the state. It appeals to man?s primitive instincts of

survival. Motivation arises out of fear and awe, and a desire not to anger the

divine. It is through this combination of the divine and the state that the people

will truly submit themselves, for not only will they fear retribution on earth

from the state if they disobey the law, but they also fear retribution from

heaven. Likewise, they see compliance with the law as a means for gaining favor

with the divine, and the way to blessings from God, in the same manner that

following the law of God brings blessing from heaven. One author, Zev Trachtenberg,

makes the following comment; ?religion remedies the effect of the cognitive

deficit the Legislator encounters with new people?[11] ??????????? The society doesn?t stay static

however, and neither does the use of religion within the society. The function

of civil religion will evolve along with the development of the society it has

been instituted in. Once the society reaches the point where it becomes

cognisant of the direction of the common good, the purpose behind the civil

religion shifts. The people no longer need the fear of the divine to lead them

to follow the law, for they see that the law is good and useful of itself, even

without the force of the divine behind it. As the laws have been implemented

and followed citizens learn this usefulness of the law through their

experiences with it, and see that it is too their advantage to live under the

law and the protections that it grants them.[12]

The citizens reach the point where they no longer need to be strong-armed into

obedience by the will of the divine. At this point however, the civil religion

does not become unnecessary and devalued. It shifts its purpose as to a manner

by which obedience is continually enforced. Citizens need to have a moral

background upon which to base their reasons for the morality of following the

law. For if there were no morality citizens would soon loose their sense of

duty to the state and their desire to follow the law and be moral citizens.

Rousseau writes, ?For it is of great importance to the state that each citizen

have a religion that causes him to love his duties. But the dogmas of that

religion are of no interest either to the state or its members, except to the

extent that these dogmas relate to morality and to the duties which, the one

who professes them is bound to fulfil towards others.?[13]

How exactly Rousseau plans for his society to move from a single state oriented

religion to a diversity of religions is unclear, though he may be thinking of

the fragmentation process that has occurred through time, causing different

denominations to spring out of common roots. The passage describes the kind of

society that Rousseau wishes to create. He wishes for civil religion to create

a bond between the people and the law. Rousseau notes, correctly however that

the law on its own has force, and that the divine, on its own has force;

however when the two are linked, the force of both is increased. [14]

It is clear that with or without religion a citizen will have duties in a

society whether or not there is the added force of religion to encourage the

citizens to follow the rule of law. To put it simply, in order to be associated

with a state, following the rule of law is a requirement, otherwise the citizen

will be banished or sequestered. It is not however, a requirement of

association with the state that citizens love these duties to the law, and to

their fellow citizen. ??????????? This is where Rousseau?s evolved civil

religion fits into the picture. It is the tool by which the state continues to

instil in its citizens a love for their civic duties and their moral

responsibilities, for the civil religion continues to preach a love for one?s

fellow citizen, and the moral responsibilities inherent to the doctrine. This

love of the law that Rousseau is calling for is different then the ?religion of

the citizen? outlined earlier in our discussion, which calls for the love of

the country and the intolerance of anything alien.? While each of these types would provide a strong link to kinsman

and country, a civil religion in Rousseau?s eyes should not turn the state into

the object of adoration. It also does not emphasis intolerance in the manner

that the ?religion of the citizen? does. Rather the civil religion should

emphasise the opposite, Rousseau states, ?tolerance should be shown to all

those that tolerate others, so long as their dogmas contain nothing contrary to

the duties of a citizen.? Once again one wonders how exactly the religious

difference has crept into Rousseau?s state, however the stressing of tolerance

within the limits of the society is an important point to note. At this point

the Sovereign is not concerned with the question as to whether or not the dogmas

of the various civil religions are right or wrong, thus eliminating the need to

declare a ?church of the state? which would push the society back towards a

religion of the citizen. The Sovereign should instead be concerned with the

moral, social, and political consequences that the religion brings forth into

the society.[15] ??????????? In the light of this discussion of

Rousseau?s view on religion as a tool of states craft, one is lead to wonder

whether or not Rousseau truly saw his own religion, or profession of Calvinism

as truly a faith based in a spiritual connection that he had, or if it was

simply a profession of convenience. It is hard to see how he could have had

such a clear and in some respects, cynical view of religion, and its uses to

mould a society, and also believe in his own religion. If he speaks of it as a

tool, one must wonder if he saw his own religion in the same light. It is clear

to see that Rousseau takes very seriously the function that the institution of

religion plays in a society. He outlines four very different – yet similar in

some respects, types of religion. He only calls for the adherence to one type

of religion, the civil religion. The civil religion is viewed as a motivating

function of society, for citizens in countries that are in their infancy

religion motivates them to follow the law and obey out of fear. In developed

countries or societies the motivation to obey the law comes both from a love of

the law and the order that it brings, and a moral code that is instilled by the

civil religion. Bibliography & Reference Dent, N.J.H. ?Rousseau : an introduction to his

psychological, social, and political theory.? B Blackwell. New York, NY, USA.

1989Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. ?The Social Contract? Translated by

G. D. H. Cole. Lemos, Ramon M. ?Rousseau’s political philosophy: an

exposition and Interpretation? Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1977. Trachtenberg, Zev M. ?Making citizens: Rousseau’s political

theory of culture.? London; New York: Routledge, 1993. ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? [1] SC, Book IV,

Chapter 8. [2] Ibid. [3] Ibid. [4] Ibid. [5] Ibid. [6] Ibid. [7] Ibid. [8] Ibid. [9] S.C. Book II

Chapter 7. [10] Ibid. [11]

Trachtenberg.? 1993. [12] Ibid. [13] S.C. Book

IV. Chapter 8. [14]

Trachtenberg. 1993. [15] Ibid.

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