Policy and religion


In article are considered policy and religion issues, and their interrelations which are still insufficiently studied in political science. In article are in more detail considered problems of a religious factor in policy and the state and religious relations. In article it is noted that the state and religious relations represent set of historically developing and changing forms of interrelations and relationship between government institutions, on the one hand, and the religious organizations – with another. At the same time in article is paid attention to debatable questions also. 

The problem of politics and religion, and their relationship is one of the most difficult and challenging in public life. Today in the world in different socio-economic conditions live and preach different religions more than 7 billion people, which are united in 245 states. By the end of XXI century, according to UN projections, the world population will reach 12.5 billion people, and in Kazakhstan 50 million people, the Kazakhs 30 million. It is important to see the whole real picture of politics and religion in societies.

The problem of politics and religion covers a wide range of issues. Therefore, in one lecture to consider all aspects with equal thoroughness and depth is impossible. In this regard, I would like to consider the lecture two Central issues of politics and religion: the religious factor in politics and state-religious relations, which are still insufficiently studied in political science.

First of all the question arises, what is politics and religion? There are many definitions of policy. However, whichever of these definitions we do not have, the main focus in this approach is paid to the activities of social actors in relation to political power.

In our view, politics is ideologically conscious activity of subjects of a policy aimed at conquest, consolidation and retention of political power to implement its interests and is intended to resolve the contradictions in society, integration of society, to teach people to live together.

Religion is a worldview, world perception and pair with them the behavior of people defined by faith in the existence of God or gods, in supernatural forces, etc.

In terms of the social characteristics of religion are divided into tribal, national and world.

Buddhism, Christianity and Islam unite people of a common faith regardless of their ethnic, linguistic and social ties. 

1.  The religious factor in politics

It should be said that today it has become the scientists of the return of religion in the life of modern societies. "The end of the twentieth century witnessed a widespread revival of religion" - says the famous American political scientist Samuel Huntington.

In this regard, we note that we are talking not only about the return of the influence of religion on private life, but also about the strengthening of the religious factor in public important human activity, including politics.

Politics and religion – social phenomena, between which there is a relationship. Therefore, religion and politics in real life is always intertwined with one another. Power always sought to use religious organizations in certain political processes. On the other hand, religious organizations have often fought for precedence over secular authority, using his spiritual influence on the masses [1].

Despite the different purpose, objectives, scope, religion (the realm of supernatural, spiritual life, personal feelings and beliefs) and politics (the specific sphere of social organization, power relations, governance, social sectors, society and the state) are interconnected. Contrary to the principle of delimitation of politics and religion, in present-day Kazakhstan, some religious organizations are quite active in the political life, ideological and political processes (especially during election campaigns), ethnic conflicts, etc.

We can select traditional channels of the intertwining of politics and religion:

  • firstly, religion intrudes in the socio-political life by influencing public actions of their followers using their religious feelings;
  • secondly, the relationship of politics and religion is due to the purposeful actions and interests of the Church (mosque) leaders of religious For example, Church institutions and various organizations (children, youth, professional, etc.) take control of a human from birth, and strive to implement it in the kindergarten, school, university, everyday life, political life, etc.;
  • thirdly, politicians of various shades have actively used religion in the sphere of internal and foreign policy, using different means, the material, handouts, ;
  • fourthly, the presence of the religious factor in politics has a place in cases where due to specific conditions, believers themselves, members of mass social movements are turning to religion to justify their interests and

The religious factor as a dynamic system of religious and philosophical views, influence the life of society. As a rule, it determines the loyalty of citizens to the state, consolidates the faithful, makes the integrating and stabilizing element in the public life of the state.

However, the turning points of history when there is strong state authority, during socio-economic crisis in the country, the religious factor may have disintegrating impact on public life, introduces additional tension in the socio-political relations, to promote interfaith and inter-ethnic conflicts.

It should be said that religion has never been reduced to believing in God and in the other world, to perform religious rites. The social doctrine allowed the monotheistic religions to master the masses and thus affect the balance of power in society.

Religion explains in his own way really existing world and regulates not imaginary, but real relations between people.

It should be noted that without a religious interpretation of purely human relations between people of religion would not be able to perform complex social functions, including integrating, would have lost its appeal, would cease to exist.

It should be said that the reasons for the emergence of new religious movements, as a rule, were of a socio- political nature. Such movements appeared in response to the urgent needs of social life.

In this regard, it should be replaced that each of the newly established religious sect acts as a socio-political cell and its system of beliefs is a new socio-political doctrine that appears in religious form. This is in essence the history of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and other religions.

The emergence of Christianity, for example, was associated with the liberation movement of slaves in the Roman Empire. Christianity recruited their followers among slaves and poor free people, preaching the contempt of the rich, the powerful and the dominant social groups of slave society.

The life of Jesus Christ is presented as a feat of self-sacrifice in the name of ideas. At that time his speech was a call for ideological and social revolution. Mortal man has declared himself God equality, challenging the priests of the temples, demolishing the ideological superstructure. A native of the "mob" born in a stable, the son of the wife of the carpenter was proclaimed by the people "king of the Jews".

In other words, who was "nothing" becomes "everything". As the leader of the people Jesus treated the higher the Jerusalem light their democratic manners. "Since the teachings of Christ, writes the philosopher, Hegel, was a revolutionary, he was convicted and executed."

Islam originated, as we know, much later, Christianity in the VI century A.D., Islam borrowed much from the Bible, as in part of dogma and social doctrine.

This applies, for example, to idea of judgment, notions of heaven and hell, about Satan (Shaitan), devils (Jinn). In the social sphere the spirit of early Christian egalitarianism was also inherent in the founder of Islam the prophet Muhammad.

It should be said that in its activities the role of the prophet Muhammad were active in defense of the poor, although in some social principles of his teachings are recognized differences, wealth and poverty as a natural fact established by Allah.

Buddhism is the oldest of three world religions. He was born in the first Millennium BC in India. In the future he won millions of followers in different countries of Asia.

It should be said that the adherents of Buddhism believe that this creed was the result of the preaching of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

According to the Buddhist legend, the son of the head of the Shakya tribe, Siddhartha Gautama, amazed by the fact that the abundance experienced by the people suffering at the age of 29 had lost their benefits and temptations of a life of luxury and started thinking about the causes of suffering and ways to overcome them.

When Gautama mastered the truth, he became Buddha. And the followers are Buddhists [2].

In fact, the emergence of Buddhism was caused by important changes in Indian society in the destruction of tribal relations and orders, and the emergence of large slave States. Buddhist ideology and ritual was a reaction of the masses to these socio-political changes.

In this regard, it should be said that the old beliefs were no longer able to meet the needs of comfort, the Buddhism equalize all people, declaring the life of any person, regardless of his social status, an unavoidable misfortune, which still can be "free".

Therefore, while recommending the same for everyone the way of salvation, Buddhism has refused to justify the caste social system. That is why it has become attractive for the masses.

It should be noted that a qualitatively new stage in the effort of social-political role of religion was the Foundation of the Church (mosques) religious organizations, serving as a means of ordering the relations within a religious Association and its relationship with the secular communities and organizations.

With the development of Church (mosque) was amplified and its political functions. Gradually the power of the Church is partially acquired a political character, as she began to claim the role of Supreme authority to strengthen not only families, but also public morality, the observance of norms and rules in which the interest of all society.

The Church (mosque) began to play a huge role in strengthening the authority of the government.

It should be said that the social doctrine of each Church or mosque in its own way formulates the ultimate earthly goal for millions of believers, which is the meaning of their everyday life. Thus is due to the participation of the faithful in all areas of life of society, including in politics.

Global and domestic experience shows that the religious life is closely intertwined with social, political life.

Religious life in Kazakhstan is a complex system of relationships that is included in the structure of social life and develops under the influence of socio-economic and political processes.

The modern religious world in our country is very heterogeneous, contradictory, and multifaceted. Today a large number of religious organizations, which differ from each other not only in creed, origin, history, number of followers and the role of ethnic and cultural development of Kazakhstan and the peculiarities of their social structure, position in the society and set of social goals. The entire range of moral, legal and political problems of modern Kazakhstan characterized the activities of religious movements. Religious organizations are the initiators valuable moral, ecological initiatives, we strive to make our world a truly humane.

Summarizing, we can say that the religious-political process represents the placement of various religious and political forces at a particular point in time, the state of relations between them, which are based on religious-ethnic relationships, their development and impact on policy objects with the aim of solving political problems.

Religious and political processes are heterogeneous because they rely on various confessions: Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodoxy, Sufism, Shiism, varieties of local beliefs. However, their political content and social role are determined not so much by basic denominations as by the political aspirations of groups forming these processes and the interests of their followers.

Moreover, on the basis of each denomination develops, as a rule, several religious-political currents, which have different and even opposite political views, expressing different aspirations and play a different role. Many of them are much closer to some secular ideological and political trends than to the religious-political. 

2.  The state-religious relations

According to global and Kazakhstani experience, religion is increasingly having an impact on policy. At the same time is developing state-religion relations.

In the basis of state-religious relations are legislatively fixed ideas about the place of religion and religious organizations in society, about their functions, spheres of activity and competence of all subjects of these relations and the actual relations manifested in legal, political, and social practices at specific historical stage.

The state-religious relations appear not simply as a legal relationship between the state and religious organizations, and broader social relationships, influencing other spheres of social life, processes of democratization, public sentiment.

The state-religious relations affect not only the interests of religious organizations as a specific institution, but institutions of government, culture, education, social security. In these relationships, these institutions come in to address issues of freedom of conscience and religion, to ensure in the society, order, harmony and principles of democratic development, the various interests of citizens, maintaining relations between the state and the emerging civil society.

It should be said that strengthening the role and influence of religion in society is directly connected with the policy of the state.

Possessing sovereignty, the State determines the rules by which the activities of any religious community. About these rules religious organizations engage in dialogue with the actors. In the course of this interaction is determined by where and how religious organizations can carry out their activities.

After gaining sovereignty, Kazakhstan proclaimed itself a secular state, initiating a civil society and new state-religious relations. The relations between the state and religious associations in Kazakhstan have changed radically.

Currently, religious associations in Kazakhstan, as noted by E.U. Baydarov, E.E. Burova and others have been able to freely carry out their activities in the dissemination of the doctrine, in the socio-cultural, charity, socio-political and economic-entrepreneurial activities.

There is an active cooperation of state institutions with religious associations (first of all, with the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan and the Metropolitan District of the Russian Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan).

Today the religious situation in Kazakhstan is characterized by the following trends:

Firstly, over the past decade, the Kazakh people have been liberated religious consciousness.

Secondly, the activity of associations related to a non-traditional type for Kazakhstan has increased noticeably.

Thirdly, the number of illegal religious and pseudo-religious associations and communities has increased.

Fourthly, the processes associated with attempts to politicize the activities of a number of confessions have intensified.

Fifthly, recently there has been a trend towards rejuvenating religious groups, especially non-traditional ones.

Sixthly, it is impossible not to notice the attempt of pseudo-Islamic extremist groups to penetrate into the territory of Kazakhstan and destabilize the socio-political situation in the country.

Seventhly, in the country of Kazakhstan Islam has been a split, caused, primarily, by external influence, penetration into the Kazakhstan alien and previously uncharacteristic sects of Islam.

In this regard, it is necessary to say that the religious revival in Kazakhstan take place in a difficult socio- political environment interaction with complex processes in the spiritual life of society, giving rise to many problems.

Under the relationship between the state and religion we understand not only direct relations between faiths, religions and local authorities, although this is also a very extensive field, but the context of these relations, namely: relations of religious associations with the state; Legislation governing these relations; sphere of social service of religions, confessions, their joint activity in the field of upbringing and education, charity, etc.

In addition, the context contains a significant range of aspects related to the impact on interreligious and interfaith relations (in Kazakhstan) from abroad – of the spiritual centers of different religions, faiths and politicized religious organizations and, accordingly, the state response to such influence.

Thus, noting the positive results of the development of religious and national relations in the Republic of Kazakhstan for the last 25 years, it can be noted as a positive growth as the absolute number of all religious associations that existed here previously, and the emergence of new trends brought by the missionaries from the East and the West.

Over the years of independence there was a real Renaissance of religion in Kazakhstan.

It should be emphasized that according to the Ministry of religious affairs and civil society of the Republic of Kazakhstan celebrated annually increase the number of registered missionaries. In particular, in 2014 – 490, in 2015 – 500, as of October 1, 2016, the number of missionaries amounted to 510 people.

Kazakhstan's overall growth in the number of religious associations and their affiliates. In particular, in 2014 the number was 3514; in 2015 - 3596 on October 1, 2016 – 3636 associations, representing 18 denominations. Of them 2529 – Islamic, 331 – Orthodox, 84 Catholic, 666 Protestant, and 7 Jewish, 8 – the international Society for Krishna consciousness, 6 – Bahai, 2 Buddhism, Mormons - 2 and 1 - Association of Manitou.

It should be noted that religious relations in Kazakhstan are regulated by a number of legislative acts, including the Constitution, the Civil Code of the RK, Law of RK "About a freedom of conscience and religious associations".

Freedom of religion in Kazakhstan is guaranteed by article 22 of the Constitution, which enshrines that "everyone has the right to freedom of conscience." Under the freedom of conscience entails the right of every person to decide about your attitude to religion (to be a believer or an atheist).

In this regard, we note that as of October 1, 2016 3436 function of religious buildings, of which 2528 mosques, 294Orthodox, 108 Catholic Church, 490 Protestant churches and prayer houses, 7 Jewish synagogues, 2 Buddhist religious buildings and 3 houses of worship of the Society for Krishna consciousness, 4 houses of worship of the Baha'is.

It must be borne in mind that ensured peaceful coexistence of different ethnic groups, religions and faiths, and works to fight religious extremism.

In this regard, the laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan "On counteraction to extremism" from February 18, 2005 and in November 2015 the President of Kazakhstan signed amendments to the legislation on counter- terrorism.

The struggle of Kazakhstan against of extremism includes many steps, among which are the following:

  • the prohibition of propaganda of national and religious hatred and hostility;
  • the prohibition on creation and activity of public and religious associations that seek to foment social, racial, national and religious hatred;
  • the prohibition on creation and activity of organizations seeking violent change of the constitutional system and violation of territorial integrity of the Republic of Kazakhstan, undermining state security, creating illegal armed groups [3].

To strengthen the authority of Kazakhstan at the international level promotes the Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions held every three years in Astana.

Thus, as shown by scientific and political analysis, the state protects the lawful activities of religious associations that guarantees freedom of religion, guarantees the equality of religions before the law.

Kazakhstan society perceives religion and religious groups as part of the culture of the people, as bearers of universal values and the most important factor of spiritual and moral revival of the country.

As shown by international and national practices, the modern relationship between the state and religious associations are often characterized as a specific partnership, i.e. they act together in those relationships that relate directly to the entire society, working for the common good.

So, state and religions in many secular countries, including in Kazakhstan, and cooperate closely in addressing social issues (mission of mercy confessions); the resolution of armed conflicts (peacekeeping mission); unification of society to solve its moral problems (communicative and integrative functions); the formation of a certain world view, including relations to state power, politics, to world events (the ideological function), and also in the sphere of moral control over the behavior and actions of believers (the function of social control) and to strengthen ties with fellow believers and followers of the faith abroad (international cooperation).

The state-religious relations today are a significant part of the state's relations with the emerging civil society in General and the institutional religious formations, relying on the support of many citizens of Kazakhstan who are followers of a particular religion.

The relevance of state-religious relations are characteristic not only for Kazakhstan but also for other countries in the world.

In inference, it can be concluded that the state-religious relations represent a set of historically evolving and changing forms of interactions and relationships between state structures, on the one hand, and religious organizations.

The state-religious relations, for example, in Kazakhstan, are an integral part of the internal and external policy of the state, the purpose of which is to facilitate harmony in Kazakhstan society, ensuring freedom of conscience and religion of citizens, creating the legal framework for a comprehensive dialogue with religious organizations taking into account the views and interests of its population having a religious form of social consciousness and expressing it through religious organizations.



  1. 1 Ivanov, A.P. Society and religion. - SPb., 2017, – Pp. 120-125.
  2. 2 Philosophical dictionary. - Kiev: A. S. K. 2006, – P. 115.
  3. 3 Seisen, N.B. The specificity of interethnic and interfaith relations in the Republic of Kazakhstan: politological analysis. – Almaty, 2015. – P. 249.
Year: 2017
City: Almaty
Category: Sociology