When looking at different populations around the United States, different states, different cities and even different communities one thing you will find in all are differing opinions. Opinions on religion, politics, education, the past and the future of our country vary from person to person. This is why having a Burke view imposing a church under law on all of society in these aspects would cause destruction and conflict.
Paine has a view that encompasses all beliefs that are different and allows them to cater to themselves by providing them the opportunity of individualism and acceptance of different views. Paine believes religion should not be an established part of society. Pain beliefs religion should stay separate from education. Paine also believes that a society’s decision should not be made off of the past but rather the present. These views in turn generate stronger, more highly educated individuals who will create a stronger society. There are many variations of religions in the world. All with different beliefs on morals and after life. This is why religion should not have a legalized role in society. It is based on morals that differ from person to person (Paine, 103), and that is what religion is meant for in a Paine society is just that, teaching morals. Due to the vast differentiation of views on these morals, one church established by law would only cause persecution. Even if you tried to create laws to tolerate other religions there would be turmoil. “Were a bill brought into parliament, entitled, “An act to tolerate or grant liberty to the Almighty to receive the worship of a jew or a Turk”… all men would startle and call it blasphemy. There would be an uproar.”(Paine, 102).
Burke claims that religion is based off of feelings and thinks that religion has a legalized place in society. “We feel inwardly, that religion is the basis of civil society and the source of all good and comfort” (Burke, 79). He claims that if there were not to be a church by law placed in society, this role would be replaced by something much worse. Feelings are constantly changing and can be deceiving. Why would a society be based on fleeting feelings when everyone could be allowed their own feelings and leave society to be governed by facts. Burke claims something worse would replace religion if religion was not directly tied with society. “The consecration of the state by a religious establishment is necessary..” (Burke, 81), but this is flawed. Pain states that all religions believe their own to be right and others to be wrong (Paine, 103) so clearly hatred and condemnation is already taking place with this idea. The main failure of Burke’s point is that even if you have an established church or not there will always be evil. Although the Reign of Terror obviously was not right, there will be problems and evil in society in either the Paine or Burke side. Yes, having a church found under the law would benefit some who share similar views, but what is to happen to the others? Those who are gay, atheists, or just have differing views would be excluded and condemned. That is why Paine has a stronger position as it encourages individuals as well as the community. It accepts that perfection will never exist. It creates strong individuals which leads to a strong community.
The past is something constantly taught in schools or constantly analyzed in our present world. It is fascinating to look at the history of the World and to see how far it has come. From dinosaurs, to the first civilization, to knights,to the first printer, to now a world filled with technology and people visiting space. Paine thinks history, all though informational, should not have a major role when making current decisions. Paine believes decisions should be made off of current problems and should be relevant to the time at hand. Burke on the other hand believes that the past should be carefully analyzed and used to develop decisions made now. “(Society) becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born” (Burke, 85). Paine has the stronger argument in regards to the past and reform based upon it because, as stated earlier, the world has come a long way and is constantly changing. The past, in many circumstances, is so different to the present it would not be smart to make decisions based upon it. Each generation should focus on the times at hand and make decisions that are relevant considering themselves first. The past was unaware of the differences there would be in modern generations and does not take them into account. “If the present generation, or any other, are disposed to slaves,it does not lessen the right of the succeeding generation to be free: wrongs can not have a legal descent”(Paine, 134).
Religion is something many people have value in and due to the vast variety that impact many learning about the differences would be educational. Paine believes that in schools religion and education should be separate. Education is a right and having an unbiased teaching of religion should be included in this. Burke believes that religion should have a key foundation in education “our education is in a manner wholly in the hands of ecclesiastes…” (Burke, 87). This is completely faulted. It is unfair to impose religious views on children at a young age. They should be able to learn of all religions and choose for themselves what they believe in. Even if you did want them to have similar beliefs, would it not be more meaningful and show the superiority to the religion embedded in a Burke society if the children choose it themselves? That is why Paine’s view on education continues to create strong individuals. These individuals are educated on all religions and have the strength to choose the one that they believe in even if it opposes the majority. These strong, encouraged, individual views create stronger, more accepting communities.
In Jane Austen’s book ‘Persuasion’ it shows how people’s manners, which come from their morals found in religion, affect others and themselves within a community. Paine agrees that religion develops morals and this is a positive things. Jane has her characters such as Anne Elliot show many Christian characteristics. Such as helping her sister Mary, showing kindness, and rejoicing even when trials head her way. Due to Jane never fully discussing religion in ‘Persuasion’ or really any of her works it appears she would support Paine’s side over Burke’s. That religion does have a role in society other than creating morals and strengthening a community through openness as well as generating good from morals. Yet a uniform religion would not play a central role in a flourishing society. Both Paine and Burke want a successful society, yet Paine’s views will actually create that. It accept the imperfections of humanity. It views religions as important for morals and believes that society should have rules enforced based upon facts. Education on different religions is important, but imposing one religion to the people of the society causes condemnation and is unfair. Stronger individuals are developed from learning about all religions and choosing their own. Decisions made in this society should not be based upon the past, but the present. Jane Austen would agree with the fact that religion has a function in society, but it is for morals.