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Journal for the Study of Religion

On-line version ISSN 2413-3027
Print version ISSN 1011-7601


BEYERS, Jaco. Religion as political instrument: The case of Japan and South Africa. J. Study Relig. [online]. 2015, vol.28, n.1, pp.142-164. ISSN 2413-3027.

Religion can be an effective instrument in politics. This has been a phenomenon all over the ages and different political contexts. Politicians utilise religion in order to gain political goals. This paper wants to investigate the reasons why religion is such an effective instrument within politics. The investigation is as much a historical investigation as it is descriptive. After careful analysis of contexts, a deduction is made to reach an understanding of the reasons for the political use of religion. The author identified through investigating two examples (i.e. politics in South Africa and Japan) several elements to consider when discussing religion within politics: (a.) no separation between spheres of existence, (b.) culture of religious participation in politics, (c.) politics and religion touch emotional and sentimental chords, (d.) religion contributes to national identity, (e.) religion can provide a claim to divine approval of political decisions, (f.) religious communities are effective partners in implementing government policies. The author consciously decided not to investigate the relationship between Islam and politics as different elements play a role in such considerations.

Keywords : religion; politics; culture; tradition; Africa; Japan; Shinto; nationalism.

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