Religion’s Role—Pope Francis Explains Why Faith and Politics Don’t Mix

I was struck by Pope Francis’ recent comments regarding the debate over withholding Communion from a politician who supports abortion rights.

He said, “If we look at the history of the church, we will see that every time the bishops have not dealt with a problem as pastors, they have taken sides politically.” He pointed out that when they did take sides politically, lives have been lost such as in the case of the Dominican Friar Giacomo Savonarola, in Florence in 1489, and the Huguenots (Protestants) in France in 1472.

Religion and politics
Photo by Jeremy Swinborne/

His Holiness’ comments caused me to think, and I realized there are reasons politics and religion don’t mix, and those reasons underscore the value of religion in society.

Politics is a zero-sum game. It is a game of power and control, and for one party to win, another party has to lose. (There has never been an election where both parties won.)

There are reasons politics and religion don’t mix, and those reasons underscore the value of religion in society.

Religion, on the other hand, is a win-win game. When a Hindu worshipper strives for freedom from the endless cycle of life, death and rebirth, he does not impinge on a Muslim’s relationship with Allah, or a Christian’s worship of Christ, or any of the other myriad ways that believers manifest their beliefs.

In fact, it could be argued that as more believers achieve states of enlightenment (regardless of which enlightenment they achieve), the world becomes a safer place for all.

In other words, every individual’s win results in a rising tide that lifts all boats.

This is why religion must be granted every possible opportunity to flourish.

Education may be the only other form of human endeavor that exhibits this upward propelling dynamic.

Zero-sum games and win-win games do not mix.

Politics may be a necessary evil. Religion is simply a “necessary.”  

Leland Thoburn
Leland has been a Scientologist for 45 years. His writings have been published in numerous magazines and literary journals, including Foliate Oak Review, Writers’ Journal, Feathertale Review, Calliope, Vocabula Review and others. Formerly an executive at EarthLink Inc., he works as a business consultant.