The Golden Triad: Power, Money, Religion

Q: Where does power come from in today’s world?

A: Depend on where you are.

In the US we have a nominal separation of church and state. What does that really mean? As is, religious values are deeply embedded within the judicial system and now are creeping up all over. Prop 8 is a great example. The Margaret and Helen blog stated the dilemma very succinctly : “If marriage is an institution supported by this country then it must be made available to all of its citizens according to the law.  If however, it is strictly a religious institution then a constitutional amendment determining who can and cannot have access to it is sort of missing the point.  Religious freedom except for people who are not religious is a mutually exclusive concept.” For those that did not follow the issue, the Mormon Church was HUGELY influential regarding the passage of prop 8.

Before I digress too much…the separation of church and state really means that the church (religious institutions as a whole) do not have an automatic claim on power. The have to resort to the same tactics as every other special interest group: MONEY. Basically, power can be bought by the highest bidder and it’s an equal opportunity auction. The bottom line: everyone wants/needs money (money and power have a closed loop that is reinforcing)

Europe is slightly different in the way it separates secular and religious, with immigration from northern Africa and Turkey forcing lines to be drawn. Basically, religion is officially not supposed to exist in the public arena. It clearly does not have any power based on itself, and it cannot use money in the same way as in North America. The bottom line: power needs money, and religion needs power  (note that the circle is not complete and all 3 institutions are getting weaker).

Saudi Arabia is a different animal altogether. If you look at the history of the Saud empire, and how the country was actually formed (pre discovery of oil), religion legitimized power through an alliance. Today, power has acquired money yet it still needs the nod from religion. This creates a unique dynamic where power cannot just do what it wants and continues to need to negotiate with religion. Religion on the other hand does not need money and already has power through proxy. The bottom line: religion and power feed off each other.