Essay On Rousseau

866 words - 3 pages

Jean-Jacques Rousseau talks about religion and State in his Social Contract. He first goes through histories of different nations, explaining the progression of religion in regards to the State. At first men never had any rulers other than their gods. Every political society was ruled by a different set of gods. These nations were often enemies of each other and would end up in wars. Wars would cause national divisions, and people would no longer know what people they were a part of. Throughout time, nations became so divided that by the time of the Roman Empire almost everyone simply became pagan, and the State was only ruled by man. However, things changed again when Jesus came, and started the biggest religious movement the world had ever seen. Jesus taught that everyone should obey God no matter what their human rulers say, and that Christianity should be spread throughout every nation in the world. Christianity was handled very differently by various States and, whether it was banned, forced, or perverted in someway, it has never really mixed very well with the State. Rousseau argues that the modern State must restrict Christianity. He does this mainly by presenting three types of religion and showing why they do not work well in society. The first type of religion that must be restricted is the "religion of man". The second type is the "religion of the citizen". The third type is the "religion of the priest."The "religion of man" is informal and unorganized, centered on morality and the worship of God. Rousseau then says that true Christianity of this sort would require every citizen to be an equally good Christian for peace and harmony to be maintained.1 He furthers this argument by adding that if one man were to become greedy he could dupe all the pious citizens for his benefit, since they would have to act towards him with infinite love. Rousseau also holds that this type of religion is bad for the State because all the citizens focus all their attention on heavenly things as opposed to the State.The "religion of the citizen" is described as the religion of a single country, or a national religion. A civil religion is organized with a hierarchy and formal dogmas. This religion would be exampled by societies like ancient Rome, where the religion teaches love for your country and obedience to the State. Rousseau actually praises this type of religion under the premise that if religion's sole purpose was to strengthen the state it would be a perfect fit. He argues, however, that this...

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