Should all political parties be secular?

Turkey’s Constitutional Court is meeting to consider if the governing AK Party should be banned for alleged anti-secular activities. Do you agree with Turkish laws that insist on political parties steering clear of religion? Or do you like your politicians and their parties to place faith at the centre of what they do?

23 Responses to “Should all political parties be secular?”

  1. 1 Brett
    July 28, 2008 at 13:30

    Od you like your politicians and their parties to place faith at the centre of what they do?

    Absolutely not. If they practice their faith at the centre of what they do and make decisions as such, it can be counter to democracy and democratic values as not all members of the governed society are of that faith and share the same values and beliefs.
    You can be religious and a great leader, but you need to make decisions based on your population and their needs and wants (after all, they elected you), not the needs and wants of your book’s main character.

    Also please note that I’m not arguing that all political parties be secular. That wouldn’t represent the people well either and would also be counter to a true democracy. There needs to be a nice mix – representative of the population demographic.

  2. 2 Angela in Washington D.C.
    July 28, 2008 at 13:45

    I don’t want a politician to make decisions soley on their faith but I do like politicians that are somewhat religious. I believe that religion will play a part in the way one looks at the world so I like to know what kind of view the person has. I realize you can be a great leader and agnostic but I am not sure I would vote for someone who didn’t beleive in a higher power. It is just a personal choice, but I would not want someone who based policies on their religious affiliation.

  3. July 28, 2008 at 13:49

    i agree with Brett in that an elected leader should not force his or her beliefs onto the people. a great leader leads not dictate.

  4. 4 Dennis
    July 28, 2008 at 14:06

    I think that all political parties should
    be secular….

    Syracuse, New York

  5. 5 nelsoni
    July 28, 2008 at 14:28

    Religion and Politics is a deadly cocktail. So they should not cross paths.

  6. July 28, 2008 at 15:16

    Taking a leaf from the controversial refusal of the Algerian Military to allow the government to cede power to the victorious Islamist party in the 1990’s, it would appear the Turkish state, though founded on principles secularism by Aturturk, has really failed to anticipate the growing resurgence in religious activity amongst, especilly the Moslem pipo in Turkyey.

    Religion, to large extent has been used to justify many wrongs, massacres, slavery, imperialism and opression. i believe that the two, politics and religion, though serving the same consituency should have legal bounds limiting each others intrusion into the others path.

    By freddie Singini
    the University of Zambia

  7. 7 steve b - uk
    July 28, 2008 at 15:20

    You cannot separate religion and politics, I think. Politicians are best when they are interesting people and quite open about their many facets – including religion ( or not, as the case may be ). The problems start when politicians or others ( some priests come unfortunately to mind ) are forced to stifle aspects of themselves to try to ‘get on’ or ‘fit in’ with a restictive orthodoxy. So ‘be yourself and let it all out into the open’, say I.

  8. 8 Syed Hasan Turab
    July 28, 2008 at 16:06

    Legalisation in regard to buildup a society dosent sound right & is against human nature, let the society transform by itself, this is only peacefull way for moving forward with diversity & atrosity.
    For protection of every resident legal structure may be ammended according to the requirement.

  9. 9 Rashid Patch
    July 28, 2008 at 16:32

    Just remember that the “secularist” movement to delegitimize the AK party in Turkey is the very same movement that has organized several brutal military coups against popularly elected governments there.

  10. 10 Count Iblis
    July 28, 2008 at 16:34

    Secularism as practiced in Turkey is actually a fundamentalistic religion in its own right. The secularists are ones who want to impose restrictions on people and they now want to ban the AK Party simply because they wanted to lift certain restrictions. So, you could say that the Ak Party is considered to be guilty of blasphemy.

  11. 11 Chris (Texas)
    July 28, 2008 at 16:53

    It’s hard to imagine a governing body to be even close to unbiased and fair if they are not secular. Besides, Turkey hopes to become an official part of the European Union and they are doing the right thing by keeping their government parties in check.

  12. 12 Robert
    July 28, 2008 at 18:32

    In countries where there is a strong constitution which prevents a government from oppressing people who don’t believe in a faith or believe in an opposing faith why not have a religious party.

    If they think they have the best policies for the country and the general public hold the same opinions then why should were the ideas come from matter. If the public don’t like the idea of religious leaders then they can make the decision and vote against them.

    Where the limit must be applied is if the religious believes are imposed on the public at the expense of people rights. If a country has a strong enough constitution then the democracy can cope with religious leaders (the Bush in the USA being the best case, followed perhaps with Tony Blair in Britain)

  13. July 28, 2008 at 19:28

    Political parties represent the interest of diverse groups of people.It is the ideologies of these institution that make people for varying background to join and usually hoping that the victory of their party of preference will protect their rights. It is exceedingly prudent for these institutions to operate without bias or vested interest any one group. While it is true to that the dichotomy between religion and politics is thin. Leaders should not impose their religious whims our others. It is their unalienable to affiliate with religion of their choice.

  14. 14 Rick
    July 29, 2008 at 09:51

    WE all agree that governments should be secular but I have never heard of an athiest being elected to the top job. Politicians always wear their religion on their sleave. Seems that acceptance of a religious moral code is a requirement for the job.

  15. 15 David Barnsdale
    July 29, 2008 at 10:49

    Should all political parties be secular? Yes. I’d never vote for a party that wasn’t. Do voters have the right to vote for such a religious party. Most certainly. The current proposal to ban the AK is grotesque and threatens the survival of Turkish democracy.

  16. 16 Bob in Queensland
    July 29, 2008 at 11:24

    As a non-believer I’d much prefer parties and governments to be secular–but don’t expect my preferences to happen.

    Turkey, I fear, is going to be a microcosm of a problem that the world is going to have over and over. The “west” (and the USA in particular) is keen to encourage democracy worldwide. I firmly believe this is going to be a case of “be careful what you wish for–it could come true”. As more and more countries, particularly in the near and middle east, become democracies there is a major risk that the democratic will is going to be for Islamic forms of government.

    Then what do we do?

  17. July 29, 2008 at 11:42

    hi Akbar ehre in Tehran
    Politics is all about secularism. Plato, Aristotle, The German School of philosphers including Kant and Hegel were secular, the French School including Voltaire, Montesquieu and the rest were secular, the English philosphers were secular. The whole issue of politics and civil agenda is focused on parliamentary rule.
    The danger of religion is that it gets bogged down in ascetic values and conscience. Government is so simple. Rule of the thumb, the ‘square of Plato’ comprising Wisdom, Courage, Discipline and Justice. Each of these terms have their rightful place in a dsicussion, but please, don’t mingle gibberish, incantations and the rest with common sense and good rule.

  18. 18 John in Salem
    July 29, 2008 at 14:40

    I would prefer that superstition and mythology have no place in my government but if the citizens of another country choose differently then that’s their business.

  19. July 29, 2008 at 16:41

    Hi Ros
    Akbar here in Tehran
    I had such high hopes for Turkey. They have a treasure trove of experience from the Ottoman days to draw on. I was convinced that Turkey was the ideal example of a Muslim race developing on modern lines.
    Why exaggerate things? Why should have Mr. Erdogan the former president and current Prime Minister insist that the ban on scarfs and headress at universities should be removed? There were so many other choices! He could have moderated his rhethoric, but no.
    What now? Will Turkey become the scapegoat of political intrigue? Pity.
    That is religion for you, it will destroy everything and anything that stands in its path to get its way. It all has a familiar ring. Like the Islamic Revolution in Iran which destroyed a lovely legacy of history and pageant only to descend into anarchy and thuggery before abandoning ship.

  20. 20 Mohammed Ali
    July 29, 2008 at 17:43

    That would depend on the country in which the political party finds itself. If we are talking about a secular state, then political parties should be stricky secular. If it is a religious state, the people can decide. That said, I think religion should be completely separate from the politics of a country.

  21. 21 Roberto
    July 30, 2008 at 00:47

    I would prefer that superstition and mythology have no place in my government but if the citizens of another country choose differently then that’s their business.

    —— I’d prefer a smarter, more compassionate populace over secular or religious government..

    Government of any ideology just a tool and religion of any faith a salve for the soul. Brains and compassion are what are needed for advancement of the status quo in the here and now.

    Not holding my breath.

  22. 22 carolyn
    July 31, 2008 at 12:38

    Quel horrore ! Religion the oppressor of women and children allowed to control government would lead our world to further disaster. All the wars and conflicts we are experiencing are related to the fantasies and delusions of the fanatically religious.
    Burquas, and head scarves for women say that men are children and are unable to control their sexual impulses. These garments enslave women and imprison them and impugn their very existence as potentially criminal. This is not a philosophy that promotes sanity. Just imagine a small boy brought up to believe his beloved mama could destroy his honor and the family by merely having her face shown in public.

  23. 23 Aaron Keeley
    August 1, 2008 at 20:31

    While I would not belong to a Political party centered around any religious group (including me own) it seems strange that a democratic government would not allow people to organize themselves politically in a manner that they see fit. Though I may personally disagree with the idea of a religious political party, the thought of banning the notion seems particularly undemocratic.

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