Religion in Politics
For a country where everything is steeped in religion – radio airwaves blessed by monks, conferences opened with chipdrel ceremonies, office buildings consecrated et al, Bhutan may be the only country in the world today, that has taken the separation of religion and politics very seriously.
This wisdom to have a secular government (separation of Church and State) is nothing new for us but something that existed from the time Monarchy was born in 1907. Come to think of it, it was not only a bold and assertive move but one of the smartest and most forward thinking decisions ever made given how “behind” people consider Bhutan in terms of opening up to the world. It only goes to show that Bhutan is/was in fact many ways ahead than even some of the most advanced countries in the world.
And today, while we see many governments struggling and regressing because of religious influence, it is amazing that Bhutan has taken a very strict stance by not allowing monks and people registered with religious organizations from voting, when we became a Democracy.
While this issue can be debated – after all it is a fundamental right for people, even if they are monks, to vote – there appears to be more pros than cons, from such a decision.
This issue of religion in politics is intriguing because even though we are in the 21st Century, religious interference and influence has the ability to stall and restrict progress based on “beliefs”. And this is evident given how countries even as advanced as the U.S still struggle with political decisions influenced by religion and religious institutions not only within their boundaries but overseas as well.