This week's theme is "Religion as an agent of the powerful." What we're trying to look at this week is how those in power use religion to maintain the status quo, or their position within society or government. Religion has been used many times throughout history to maintain the status quo. The question, though, is why religion is so easily adapted to make this happen?
As we saw with Hinduism today, when religion sets in motion a series of "truths," believers are very unlikely to challenge those truths, as doing so might endanger their everlasting existence. As times change and new people are swept into positions of power, they begin to exert their own interpretative influence into the "truths" of the religion, and the concept of reality shifts ever-so-slightly. These ever-so-slight shifts, however, occurring almost constantly over hundreds of years, may completely change the nature of the "truth." Hence, as we saw today, the caste system that began in 1500 BC in India, focused on a division of labor, shifts incredibly (based on who was trying to maintain their power in India over centuries) to the point where it is used to justify the elevation of lighter-skinned Indians solely on the basis of the color of their skin. Taken as two snapshots, one might be amazed that the caste system of the early 20th century had anything to do with the one created in 1500 BC. But tiny changes over two thousand years, taken together, make a world of difference.