Politics in Minutes (2016)

Religion in 21st-century politics

It is estimated that some 75 per cent of the world’s population identify themselves as belonging to one religion or another. Even though only a few countries have an official state religion, the culture of many nations is shaped by the predominant religions, which undoubtedly influence their politics. In liberal democracies, particularly those with diverse multicultural populations, freedom to practise religion is considered a human right, but opinion is very much divided as to what role religion should play in affairs of state.

Even in avowedly secular states, such as the USA, a majority of voters find the idea of an atheist in the White House unacceptable. The intimate link between religion and culture is especially strong in more conservative politics, and this often means territorial, ethnic, or political conflicts have a religious dimension too; troubles in Ireland, the Balkan states and the Middle East are frequently cited as religious clashes when there are more complex causes.

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