When Politics Becomes Religion

Frank Parker
4 min readMar 26, 2019
Anna Soubry has been vilified for her anti-Brexit stance. Photo Parliament TV

“Politics,” someone is supposed to have said, “is the art of the possible.” Religion, however, is about faith and belief. The seemingly impossible can come true if you adopt the correct patterns of behaviour, including some that seem irrational to non-believers.

The first statement held true throughout most of my adult life, at least in what has come to be known as the developed world. As recently as last year the notion of state-backed policies and laws based on religious belief has continued to be overturned by, for example, changes in the law regarding same sex marriage in many jurisdictions.

And yet we are, today, faced by certain political beliefs that, whilst not having their roots in religion, are held to as determinedly by their devotees as the religious dogmas espoused by the followers of fundamentalist religious sects. Sometimes to the point where opponents become the object of hate speech, are called traitors, and are subjected to death threats.

This is certainly the case when it comes to the debate in Britain about membership of the EU. On both sides there are large bodies of people who believe their version of the future, in or out of Europe, as tantamount to Gospel truth. The fact that some such beliefs on one side of the argument are polar opposites — the EU is too Socialist, according to those on the political right, or a right wing conspiracy that benefits only the wealthy, according to those on the left, for example — does not seem to matter.

On the remain side, too, there are contradictions. Some see the EU as the best possible defence against globalisation whilst others welcome it as a step towards closer worldwide integration.

Add to that the fact that, within the EU, there are differing visions of the future course of the “Project” and it is easy to see why there is so much confusion.

I have always held that the middle course in politics is the best. The danger with that, of course, is that in trying to please everyone you can end up pleasing no-one.

When it comes to religion, there is no middle course between, say, Catholicism and Protestantism, Christianity and Islam and, within Islam, Sunni and Shia. And yet Catholics and Protestants can unite in their belief that Islam is a perversion of “God’s…

Frank Parker

Frank is a retired Engineer from England now living in Ireland. He is trying to learn and share the lessons of history.