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The Machiavellian Relationship Between Religion And Politics

1209 words - 5 pages

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RELIGION AND POLITICS
In Niccolò Machiavelli texts;; "The Prince, and the Discourses on Livy book: 1, book 2, and book 3" he
thoroughly discusses religion's role in the formation and maintenance of political authority. In his writing on
religion, he states that religion is beneficial in the creation of political authority and political leaders must support and
endorse religion in order to maintain power. However Machiavelli criticizes religious institutions that are corrupt,
which in that time period were involved in politics and in turn caused corruption inside the citizenry and divisions in
the state. This essay will examine Machiavelli's analysis of religion and discuss the relationship between religion and
politics in Machiavelli's texts.
In the subject of Machiavelli's view on religion's relationship to political authority he feels religion is a
double edged blade where an excess of religion in government is detrimental but the appearance of religion is not
only part of government that is not only beneficial, but is instead necessary. Machiavelli wrote that a political leader,
" ​should appear, upon seeing and hearing him, to be all mercy, all faithfulness, all integrity, all religion. And there is
nothing more necessary than to seem to possess this last quality." (The Prince Chapter XVIII)
Machiavelli's argument revolves around the assertion that using all of the above characteristics and at all
times is detrimental a political leader must employ antithetical measures to maintain the loyalty and unity of their
people. Machiavelli believes that a political leader must only create the appearance of ruling in the name of mercy,
faithfulness, integrity and religion because they have to act in the opposite manner when they are obliged to do so.
A political leader must often act contrary to the promise of maintaining charity, and religion in order to maintain their
state.
Machiavelli sees religion as an organization necessary to the preservation of public authority, for religion
instills the fear of God;; a fear that keeps man disciplined and obedient. As Machiavelli writes, " ​these citizens were
more afraid of breaking an oath than of breaking the laws, since they respected the power of God more than that of

man." (The Discourses Book I Chapter XI) when citizens lose faith in their country no longer finding laws to be fair,
they will still be loyal to the state if the citizens are religious they will be restrained by an oath they made to the
religion of the state. For example the people of Rome took an oath that forced their allegiance to their country and
despite the havoc caused by Hannibal after the battle of Cannae, the people were kept from abandoning their country
and fleeing to Sicily. He continues on;; saying that religion has been used to help command armies, both encourage
and discourage the lower class, and keep a man honorable by glorifying those who are good and shaming...

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