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This article surveys some of the philosophical problems raised by the various ways in which religion and politics may intersect.The first two main sections are devoted to topics that have been important in previous eras, especially the early modern era, although in both sections there is discussion of analogs to these topics that are more pressing for contemporary political thought: (1) establishment of a church or faith versus complete separation of church and state; and (2) toleration versus coercion of religious belief, and current conflicts between religious practice and political authority.But religious beliefs and practices also potentially support politics in many ways.The extent and form of this support is as important to political philosophers as is the possibility for conflict.Brad Pitt grew up in Missouri with two devout Baptist parents. But he's since said religion doesn't do it for him. One of the things Pitt would most like to see is the legalization of marijuana in the U. He’s said: Shouldn’t the argument be, what’s not good enough for us is not good enough for them?

While the topic of establishment has receded in importance at present, it has been central to political thought in the West since at least the days of Constantine.The relation between religion and politics continues to be an important theme in political philosophy, despite the emergent consensus (both among political theorists and in practical political contexts, such as the United Nations) on the right to freedom of conscience and on the need for some sort of separation between church and state.One reason for the importance of this topic is that religions often make strong claims on people’s allegiance, and universal religions make these claims on all people, rather than just a particular community.A weaker form of an established church is what Robert Bellah (1967: 3-4) calls “civil religion,” in which a particular church or religion does not exactly have official status, and yet the state uses religious concepts in an explicitly public way.For an example of civil religion, he points to Abraham Lincoln’s use of Christian imagery of slavery and freedom in justifying the American Civil War. Trained as a philosopher (he completed, but did not defend, a dissertation at Harvard on the philosophy of F. Bradley) and deeply influenced by Aristotle, Eliot believed that democratic societies rejected the influence of an established church at their peril, for in doing so they cut themselves off from the kind of ethical wisdom that can come only from participation in a tradition.

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