Updated: Jan 19
Religion has been a part of humanity for millennia. Whether it’s praying to natural elements, idols, stars, and even animals, religion holds a special place in the hearts of millions of people around the world. These religions have co-existed together for ages, sometimes harmoniously, sometimes spitefully. But above all, it serves as a means for communities to bond together under one higher power, prayer helps those who want a way to vent their feelings during stressful times. One takes comfort in knowing that there is someone who looks out for them at all times and keeps them from harm. Religion, however, has many ulterior motives that go unnoticed when you look at them at the surface. These motives stem from politics, governance, society, and economic factors.
First, let’s clear the elephant in the room. Religion, in modern times, plays a huge role in the governing of a country. Laws are made around the safeguarding of religious ideals, be it the beef ban in India, the ban on abortions in various countries, or the ban on homosexuality. The list of restrictive laws around the world is endless, all of these laws cite religious texts written more than a thousand years ago which damages the progression of modern society. It’s clear that religion holds a major stake in the political spectrum. The same can be said for the pre-21st-century era as well. Religion has been the driving factor for countless wars, the Crusades, the Holocaust, the long-standing war between Israel and Palestine, even the Indian rebellion of 1857 had religion as the main force behind the attack.
Moving on to the governance of a country, religion had primarily been started as a means to encourage a sense of unity among people. However, this slowly transformed into a way to govern people according to a set of strict restrictive laws and if anyone were to disobey these laws they would be subjected to shame and ridicule by society. The room for free-thinking and diverse opinions had been shunned; instead, an authoritarian mindset was forced upon people. It became an effective tool of governance and remains so in the modern system of governance as well. Society, as a result of the brainwashing by religious officials, has become intolerant of different religions. Rituals laid down by the government are followed to the bone, with not a single person daring to question them.
During the past few decades, tolerance of religions has increased as a result of migration and the subsequent culture clashes; however, there still exists a prejudice among a few people that their own religion is superior to others, which will hopefully cease to exist in the coming years.
When it comes to economics, religion is also engrained in certain local economies and the taxes collected by religious monasteries. As a result, there is an added societal pressure in such countries too for religion holds an equally important part in the economy of a country in the 21st century. Moreover, festivals and various subsets of them boost the economies of countries all around the world. Not only do they promote economic activities but they bring together communities, thereby encouraging the coexistence of religions.
Despite the rift among these large religions and the rituals that they practice, they all have only one motive: the belief in a higher, supernatural existence. It’s important to realize that religion shouldn’t play such large roles in society and the political spectrum. Rather, religion should always be a choice that one chooses to follow out of their own beliefs and for their own spirituality, and it should never be something that is enforced upon anyone.