To read this content please select one of the options below:

Religion and the State: The Politics of Social Control in Myanmar and the United States

Political Authority, Social Control and Public Policy

ISBN: 978-1-78756-049-9, eISBN: 978-1-78756-048-2

Publication date: 4 July 2019


This chapter provides a cross-cultural look at the intersection of religion and the state with a focus on social control, social movements, political authority, and legitimacy. To better understand the complexities of governance, this chapter examines state social control of religion with a specific focus on the effects of that control on society. State leaders often seek to control and use the power of religion to gain legitimacy, authority, and control over citizens. Conversely, religious leaders sometimes seek to engage and even control the power of the state. This chapter highlights some of what happens when religious leaders directly engage in politics and challenge the social control mechanisms of political authority.

At times religious majorities seek not only to participate in the public square, to make policy, but also to exercise complete control of political and cultural institutions. In many nations, from Christians in the United States to Buddhists in Myanmar, some religious and government leaders share the goal of complete religious control over their societies. What happens to the religions and to the society when these religious and government leaders are successful? What happens to the religion when a state controls, supports, and promotes that religion? This chapter uses the case histories of the repression of the Muslim minority by the Buddhists nationalists in Myanmar and the desires of the United States Christian Dominionists goals to illustrate and highlight the way that the twin powers of the state and religion serve as direct agents of social control by transmitting values of each institution through law, policy, and by punishing those who deviate.



Sterken, R.E. (2019), "Religion and the State: The Politics of Social Control in Myanmar and the United States", Rabe-Hemp, C.E. and Lind, N.S. (Ed.) Political Authority, Social Control and Public Policy (Public Policy and Governance, Vol. 31), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 109-122.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, by Robert Edward Sterken Jr.