Democracy, Religion, and Politics: The Dilemmas of the 21st Century

This study explores the relationship between politics, religion, and democracy, pointing to potential challenges for democracy and considering the importance of popular participation for its legitimacy. Considering the consequences that arise from the participation of religious groups in society as public entities, we ask: what is the best way to evaluate public discussions about controversial issues that conflict with religious and secular identities within liberal democracies? The interaction between politics and religion in the democratic context is complex. The performance of politicians with religious convictions can be guided by a more conservative perspective on moral issues. Religion, in turn, has a strong connection with family values, including the role of the “mother-woman” within this institution (DUARTE, 2017, p. 157).

Democratic structures are intrinsically linked to popular participation and political pluralism. Policies that exclude certain groups can compromise the representativeness and legitimacy of the government, challenging democracy and weakening its structures. Contemporary literature also highlights a growing overlap between moral and political conservatism, which can challenge democracy. However, the rule of law ensures that government policies and actions comply with legal and constitutional principles, avoiding divergences between political objectives (DUARTE, 2017, p. 158). The separation of powers contributes to the decentralization of power, promoting greater transparency. This results in a more legitimate political process, bringing the citizen closer, who is the actual legitimizing agent of political action.

Both politics and religion are interconnected, considering the predominant representativeness of religious movements. Just as a religious individual can become a politician, a politician can also have religious convictions and act on behalf of a deity, regardless of their personal belief. Religious institutions influence the opinions and values of individuals, significantly impacting the legislation defended in the name of the family institution and a deity. Issues such as euthanasia, abortion, and equal marriage are debates influenced by the ethical and moral issues of the respective politicians and are central themes for religious tradition. In politics, about religion, there may be a predominance of elitism, finding legitimacy in individuals predisposed to assume a more conservative position, which can marginalize and segregate communities and their respective non-centralized cultures. In this scenario, minorities can be pushed away, resulting in a delimitation of democracy conceived by elites, preserving the status quo of the dominant elites and maintaining secular structures. Finally, political-religious movements are legitimized by a portion of the population that defends the same principles. However, it is essential to remember that the diversity of opinions and beliefs is fundamental to the health of a democracy.

DUARTE, Luiz Fernando D. Valores cívicos e morais em jogo na Câmara dos Deputados: a votação sobre o pedido de impeachment da presidente Dilma. Religião e Sociedade, v. 37, nº 1, p. 145-166. Rio de Janeiro, 2017.  

JUNIOR, C.; CAMPOS, R.; GUSMÃO, E. Antropologia e filosofia política: uma relação estranha? Ou como analisar controvérsias entre cidadãos seculares e religiosos em uma democracia liberal. Debate do NER, ano 18, n. 32, p. 143-170. Porto Alegre, jul/dez, 2017.  

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