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[personal profile] aphar
What is the difference between a religious denomination and a political party?

Both start from a certain ideology (political or religious) - a world view which defines "Right" and "Wrong", and then proceed to delineate an appropriate behavior.

One might think that religions are grandfathered - they existed before the democratic process while parties came about to represent different factions. However, a cursory glance at history finds political parties long before democracy became mainstream. Of course, political parties were often defined in religious terms (e.g., Catholics vs Protestants).

Another possibility is "permanence" - one might think that a person is more committed to a religion than to a political ideology. Nope - "Paris is well worth a Mass" is just one example.

Yet another potential difference is "secularity" - political parties are supposed to be founded on a rational secular ideology. This has to be discarded on both sides - there are plenty of openly religious parties (both in word and deed) and "secular" parties which have all the accoutrements of a religion (CPSU had holy scriptures, infallible prophets, sacred rituals &c).

We could say that political parties are directed outside (towards affecting the society) while religions insider (changing the individual). However, this seems to be a cosmetic difference (fundamentalist Christians are opposed to abortion rights and "tax-and-spend" liberals give less to charities).

Some ideologies claim a basis in science (e.g., scientology and marxism). However, in practice, all of them reject contradicting evidence (cf. Confirmation bias).

So, what is the difference between a religious denomination and a political party?

August 2017

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