Waxing Faith, Waning Trust: Ethics in Government, Religious Persecution and Declining Religious Support

By Demy, Timothy J. | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

Waxing Faith, Waning Trust: Ethics in Government, Religious Persecution and Declining Religious Support


Demy, Timothy J., Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

"Religion counts." (1) This short declaration by former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright succinctly articulates the significant effect of religious values in today's national and international political environments. Why does it count? It does so, in part, because of the enormous influence that people of faith have on political processes including war, peace, conflict resolution, and humanitarian endeavors around the globe.

Whether Buddhist or Baptist, Muslim or Methodist, Hindu or Holiness, religious Zionist or Zoroastrian, or any one of scores of other faith perspectives embraced around the globe, faith matters in the public and private lives of individuals. It shapes worldviews, values, ethics, and politics. For many people, when their religion is at odds with other values competing in the marketplace of ideas, religion will be the standard by which all other expectations and experiences are judged.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly in Private and Public

Values have consequences. Whether private or public, personal or corporate, values inevitably are manifested in the lives of individuals, the legislation of lawmakers, and the actions of governments--be they dictatorships or democracies. It has been said that not to be fortified with good ideas is to be victimized by bad ones. (2) This is true especially in the realm of ethics where it applies not only to individuals but also to institutions and governments. But there are some differences. The individual who is not fortified by good ideas and falls prey to bad ideas--whether in politics, philosophy, religion, economics, or science--will reap the consequences of those bad ideas in his or her personal life, professional life, business, or relationships. The government, legislature or leader that is not fortified by good ideas and falls prey to bad ones will actively or passively inflict the consequences of those bad ideas on its citizens. Ethically bad ideas in the lives of individuals brings personal calamity. Ethically bad ideas in government brings catastrophe for the masses--sometimes for minority groups, sometimes for the majority, and sometimes for everyone.

Throughout the West in recent years there has been a decrease in religious enthusiasm for national governments (while in other parts of the globe, circumstances have been just the opposite). To be sure, the so-called religious right in the United States has maintained a strong presence in national elections, but even its prominence, power, and political enthusiasm has diminished. Elsewhere, especially in some non-democratic nations, there has also been a decrease of support from citizens.

This phenomenon is not explained by any single cause but, rather, by a combination of individual and community beliefs, dissatisfaction with present administrations and policies, unethical behavior by elected government officials, and in many cases, deliberate actions by governments to harass or suppress religious communities.

Although there are several global and religious trends affecting the ability of governments to maintain legitimacy internally and externally, this presentation focuses on one religious persecution. When religious persecution occurs, there is an ethical chasm created between the citizen and the state that can be bridged only with extensive effort and time. More often than not, the systemic effects of the persecution are long-lasting and may take decades to overcome, if they ever can be overcome.

Often when we think about ethics and government we focus primarily on the unethical behavior and acts and only secondarily consider the consequences of those actions for citizens under the authority of the offending government or leadership. Any government that functions within a culture of corruption will lose support from its constituents--especially those with strong religious beliefs and communities. Because unethical behavior also violates religious values, the unethical government or leader loses legitimacy both from its constituents as citizens and from its constituents as people of faith. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Waxing Faith, Waning Trust: Ethics in Government, Religious Persecution and Declining Religious Support
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.