How did Hobbes feel about religion being part of the government?

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Hobbes believed that religion represented a serious threat to the stability and strength of government. He lived at a time when religious conflict was rife throughout Europe, leading to bloody wars that cost the lives of tens of thousands of people, most of whom were ordinary citizens.

As a crypto-atheist,...

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Hobbes believed that religion represented a serious threat to the stability and strength of government. He lived at a time when religious conflict was rife throughout Europe, leading to bloody wars that cost the lives of tens of thousands of people, most of whom were ordinary citizens.

As a crypto-atheist, Hobbes had nothing but contempt for the truth-value of religion but still accepted that it had an important role to play in minimizing conflict within society. To that end, the argued for the establishment of a state religion to which everyone in his ideal commonwealth would pay outward obeisance. Hobbes had no desire to quarrel with men's consciences, but he did believe that everyone should conform to certain religious practices so as to reduce tensions between the various denominations.

In Hobbes's system of government, the absolute sovereign decides what outward forms the state religion should take. How people worship, which passages from the Bible are to be preached from the pulpit, and what rituals are to be adopted in religious services are all details that are determined by the sovereign.

Otherwise, Hobbes believes, people will be at each other's throats over religious issues, each one believing that they are in possession of the truth. Such turmoil is to be avoided by making the sovereign the sole arbiter of what constitutes the appropriate outward forms of religious belief.

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Hobbes, especially in the Leviathan, is concerned with religion in a different way than we usually understand it today. We tend to think of religion as solely private and individual, and, especially if we are from the United States, raised on the principle of the separation of the church and state, as a personal matter of conscience and belief.

Hobbes, while he was at the start of the Enlightenment movement to make religion a private affair, was primarily concerned with it as an agent of social stability. Hobbes believed that people needed strong governments to protect individuals and groups from the barbarous ways of a state of nature, which made life "brutish." The only way to defend against the worst inherent in humans was to devise strong laws and buttress strong leaders. Religion was a pragmatic concern in this context. While Hobbes thought people had a natural desire for religion to relieve the anxiety of life in a cruel, uncertain world—"Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion," he wrote in the Leviathan—he wished for strong religious structures in order to promote social stability, wealth, and harmony.

As an early Enlightenment figure, however, he supported rational religion: he did not see religious slaughter over arcane differences in worship as helpful to building a stable state. Because of the religious excesses of his period, he thought religion should be firmly under the governance of the state.

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One should start out by noting that Hobbes' own views of religion are the subject, to some degree, of scholarly debate. He was definitely strong opposed to scholasticism and Roman Catholicism and trended toward materialism and rationalism in his overall philosophy. While he does argue that his form of political absolutism is compatible with Christianity, many accused him of being an atheist.

Within his objections to Roman Catholicism, as well as his dislike of what he sees as the metaphysical and nonsensical character of scholasticism, we see a political issue. Hobbes objected to the Church's meddling in national or civic affairs, especially in what he saw—as many of his fellow Englishmen did—as papal overreach in attempting to assert authority over governments.

Hobbes' political philosophy was based on the notion that the state of nature or anarchy is one of war of all against all in which life is "nasty, brutish, and short." In exchange for security, citizens enter into a social contract in which they surrender liberty to the monarch. This includes religious liberty. Religion is not a legitimate grounds for disobedience. The monarch, in fact, has the right to decide on a national religion. For Hobbes, religious authority was subordinate to monarchical authority and a national church, subordinated to the monarch, was an important part of establishing the peace and security for which the subjects had sacrificed liberty. In a time of violent religious wars, Hobbes was aware of religion's ability to create chaos and anarchy—the very forces he wanted to guard against. He thought, however, that Christianity might be compatible with order and absolutism, citing Jesus's belief in "rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" as evidence.

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In answering this question, remember that Hobbes's main idea is that the sovereign needs to have complete power over his subjects.  This will tell you something about Hobbes's attitude towards religion in government.  Hobbes did not believe that any church should have power in the government.  The reason for this is that the church's power might interfere with or reduce that of the sovereign.  Therefore, no organized churches should be able to wield power.

This is not to say that Hobbes believed that separation of church and state was necessary.  Since Hobbes believed that the monarch should have complete power, he also believed that the monarch should have power over religion in the country.  The monarch should be able to dictate what religious actions (as opposed to beliefs, which cannot be commanded) were taken or not taken.

So, Hobbes felt that churches should not interefere with the power of the sovereign, but had no problem with the sovereign controlling religion in his kingdom.

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