Assess how some religious views may reject democracy.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In general, I would suggest that religion and democratic order operate on two fundamentally different set of axes.  For the religious order, the word of the divine is usually seen as a non- negotiable entity.  If the traditional understanding of God is understood, when that force says something, it is not something to be questioned.  When God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, it is not as if he can say, "Hold on, Lord, let's debate this to find a solution that benefits both of us.  We both can be happy here."  Abraham has no choice but to follow God's word.  This hierarchical relationship in which power unquestioningly rests with the divine is something that is not present in democracy, an order in which power rests with the people.  Democratic orders thrive and survive in negotiation and compromise.  In a democratic setting, there is a reciprocal relationship that exists and this enables discourse and bargaining to transpire.  It is through these different valence points where conflict exists between both.  Whereas religion thrives in conviction and pure belief, democracy falls apart when pure conviction is present.  Part of the reason why the American Civil War took place was because of conviction, one side believing in the authenticity and lack of negotiability in slavery and another side believing the same about its abolition.

In this, one can see how many views in religion would reject a democratic premise or the concept of democracy, in general.  The belief in a totalizing and absolutist notion of God automatically flies in the face of democracy in that there is little questioning of that divine power.  This rejects democracy in that there can be no negotiation or discussion about it.  Abraham's view of God is an all encompassing one, where there is no democratic discussion or discourse.  In this light, religious views that do not advocate collective decision making, reciprocity in position, and the idea of reaching consensus to benefit all parties fly in the fact of democatic ideals, and thus rejecting them.


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