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May 08, 1981 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-05-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Book Describes Religion History

By ALLEN A. WARSEN
"God is everywhere. This

simple belief, expressed so
forcefully 3,000 years ago
by a Hebrew psalmist
(Psalm 139), has been a
basic tenet of all major reli-
gions in the world. People of
all faiths have shared the
idea that God _walks with
us wherever we go — no
matter how simple our er-
rand, how ordinary our con-
cern."
The above passage is from
the preface of Marrietta D.
Mosk n's volume "In the
of God: Religion in
Everyday Life," published
by Atheneum.
The book's opening chap-
ter, "The Search for Reli-
gious Ideas," traces the

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history of religion from its
beginnings when man re-
garded incomprehensible
natural phenomena as
spirits and mysterious
forces.
however,
Slowly,
people began to ponder
the origin of the world
and its inhabitants, and
started to believe in
creator gods and goddes-
ses "who brought forth
the earth either out of
their own bodies or from
a gigantic world egg."
Gradually, they de-
veloped ideas about after-
life, reincarnation, resur-
rection and immortality.
Eventually, the Great
Religions were created.
Illuminating is the
author's account of the con-
nection between religion
and the state. It is believed
that this relationship dates
back to prehistoric times.
Already in those remote
times people ascribed
supernatural powers to
their rulers. Since the es-
tablishmerit of monarchies,
they regarded kings either
as representatives of gods or
as divine beings.
In the Near East, the
author explains, "only
the Jews did not elevate
their rulers to the ranks
of the gods. The ancient
Hebrews faithfully
obeyed the biblical com-
mand: 'Thou shalt have
no other gods before me.'
To the Jews, God was the
supreme ruler, above any
human being — com-
moner or king."
Even the Romans consid-
ered their emperors as gods
to whom they paid ritual
homage. This situation pre-
vailed until 380 CE when
Emperor Theodosius I made
Christianity the empire's
religion. Since then loyalty-
to the Christian Church was
analogous to allegiance to
the state.
In 410, the barbarians
conquered Rome. Shortly
thereafter the Western
Roman Empire crumbled,
an event that marked the
beginning of the Dark Ages.

From that time until the
start of the Reformation,k
rulers, such as Charle-
magne and Otto the Great
"reigned with the blessings
of the Popes. - But in 1517
Martin Luther split the
Church into Catholics and
Protestants. Yet religion
remained an integral part of
the state.
The first country that
brought about a separation
of religion and state was the
United States. On Dec. 15,
1791 it declared; "Congress
shall make no law respect-
ing an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof."
Moskin's book also de-
scribes the roots and beliefs
of many of the world's reli-
gions.

Friday, May 8, 1981 13

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