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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

How Religion Has Influenced Politics Across History, From Ancient Sumeria to the 21st Century—Paul Rahe

00:00 49:52
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In our interview, Prof. Paul Rahe says that a liberal democracy that guarantees the rights of all citizens needs the guarantee that no one religion is established as the official state belief system. At the same time, if a society doesn't have some sort of transcendent belief system, then politics will rush to fill the void left by religion (or any sort of communal belief) and metastasize into fascism or totalitarianism. We start with the relationship between religion and the political community in the pagan world – Sumeria, Akkad, Babylonia, the Hittite Empire, ancient Persia, Greece, and Rome. Then, we discuss how Christianity changed everything. For three centuries, it was independent of the political community and, in a sense, in opposition. Then, it became entangled with the political community under Constantine and, instead of being persecuted, it did the persecution. To this one can add that as a religion of faith it quite naturally gave rise to quarrels over doctrine, that these were bitter in late Antiquity, and that there was a second round of bitterness in the wake of the Reformation. The modern separation of church and state is a response to the violence that erupted, and it is a remarkable experiment. Finally, Rahe discusses Islam – which is a religion of holy law different in its ambitions from (orthodox) Judaism which is also a religion of holy law. Put simply, insofar as it is center on shari’a, Islam is ineluctably political – which means that it cannot easily be privatized.   RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE Free Hillsdale Online Course—Public Policy from a Constitutional Viewpoint American Heritage—From Colonial Settlement to the Current Day TO HELP OUT THE SHOW Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher
September 18, 2017
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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