To answer the hypothetical question whether or not, if I was a political leader in the early seventeenth century, I would use religion to my own ends would be very difficult and daunting. At the very outset, it should be noted that the 17th century was a very exciting period. It was characterized by major movements, shakers, upheavals and pivotal points. To be brief and concise, allow me to offer a timeless, albeit simplistic answer to this above mentioned hypothetical question. My answer would be NO, and I offer three reasons to back my answer.
1. Politics and Religion must never mix. Most democratic countries declare in their state principles and policy that there should be a separation of Church and State. So much so, matters of spiritual import can not and must not exist alongside matters of political and ‘worldly’ dominions. To mix both would be to invite chaos and perhaps, bigotry, social injustice and create inequities due to over zealous religiosity. 2. Lessons in History tell us that religious standards imposed by those who wield political influence crumbled in time.
Such lessons definitely point out that indeed, sound judgment dictate that a political leader should not use religion to advance his own ends. We see abdications, uprising and other violent overthrows and civil uprising involving religious disquiet and bigotry towards political leaders, not only in the 17th century, but all throughout history, when religion is used by political hands. Religion, being the opium of the masses may prove beneficial at times, but in the long run, like the effect of drugs or opium, people come to their senses, and again, as earlier pointed out, there must be a separation of matters of faith and matters of state.
3. Using religion to advance one’s ends, no matter how noble is morally wrong. One should use sheer power of conviction, political will and strength of character and unbridled and sterling leadership qualities if one is to be an effective political leader. The use of spirituality or religion in advancing one’s political ends is a moral wrong. This by example, as the Spaniards once were, is called mammon after Christ/Cross. Up until now, the Roman Catholic Church is plagued and beset by the wrongs committed by the Church officials during the dark ages.
This only shows that again, Religion and Politics are two ‘incompatible’ concepts, and should be avoided. While an enlightened governance or political leadership is a paradox, it should not be an impossibility. After all, conscientious leadership is a desired trait for a political leader, however, out and out, politics and religion should not be put out in one outfit, especially so in such turbulent a time as the 17th century. For the above stated reasons, I reiterate my answer; No. If I was a political leader in the 17th century, I will not use religion for my own end.