Religion and State Sovereignty

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Religion and State Sovereignty The influence of religion on humankind can be traced back to the first records of history. Religion has served as a pillar of strength to some and binding chains to others. There are vast amounts of information and anthropological studies revealing the interaction of religion and humankind. However, for the purposes of this paper, the time periods of study will be broken up into three sections. Each section will give a general description of how religion affected the institution of the state and its Sovereignty in a Euro-centric perspective. The first period is the early period, which will encompass from Christianity and the Roman Empire to the Medieval times (approx. 311 to 1100 A.D.). The second period will include the Renaissance, the Reformation to the Treaty of Westphalia (1101 to 1648 A.D.). The third and increment of history will range from 1649 to 1945 A.D. The date 311 A.D. marks the issuing of the "Edict of Toleration" for Christians. This date is important because it symbolizes "national" acceptance of Christianity, and planted its roots as a political institution. Later the Roman Empire on the verge of internal collapse acknowledged the importance of Christianity and used it to hold together the remnants of it former self. This adoption of Christianity took form and eventually became the Catholic church.The church became intermingled with politics and became a strong entity. The policies delivered from the church had more authority than the local rulers and magistrates of the developing feudal system. For example, St. Augustine wrote about war and what justified its enactment against fellow men. This policy was followed and adhered to for hundreds of years after St. Augustine wrote it. Another example, is the use of the Bible as a guideline for establishing governing systems. Scripture portrayed God as choosing the king of the people. The pope, being God's "representative" was then given the authority to crown the king. This crowning process gave the pope large influence in the political arena. This ritual continued for a number of centuries. The Crusades, which occurred around 1100 A.D., played a crucial role in challenging the church's authority. The pope identifying the spread of Islam as evil requested all of Europe embark on a "Crusade" to defeat the infidels. As the battles were fought, great treasures were found in the form of books and knowledge. These books were crude translations of old Greek texts, containing information which would eventually produce the waning of Church authority in the future.

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