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Almost every human being in the world is associated with a particular religion or that belief in a supernatural being. Generally, religion refers to a collection of fundamental practices, beliefs, cultural practices and worldviews that establish symbols that connect or relate humans to spirituality and moral values. Symbols, traditions, sacred histories and narratives are meant to give meaning to the subjects. They explain issues like the origin of life, the end of life, the formation of the universe, and the morality levels expected from humans. Moral explanations comprises of ethics, religious laws and what is the preferred lifestyle. They are derived from the people’s existing ideas about human nature and cosmos. These ideas have to be agreed upon by the parties involved. Religion is a highly influential doctrine among humans. It influences the decisions they make, how they live, how they treat or relate to one another and how they respond to various situation. Over the course of time such ancient religions have remained dominant over the centuries: Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.
People with a common belief have different roles that the religion dictates. Some religions dictate the leaders that people should choose or follow. They give fine details of how leaders should behave or look like. However, different religions handle leadership differently. There are those that have little to do with leadership, and there are those that believe that leadership is a religious doctrine that is governed by the divinity or supreme entities.
Religion since early times has had a major influence on early state expansion. A good example is Roman Empir established around 500 BCE. When the Rome fell to the hands of emperors, religion became influential. Some of the emperors believed that they were gods or supreme beings. However, this would mean that there would be religious flux. Some of the emperors in the Roman Empire are the reason why Christianity is one of the most influential and far-spreading in the world. The arrival of Constantinian Dynasty in the fourth century was a major boost to the roman civilization. Constantin upheld Christianity in the vast region which he ruled often standardizing Christianity even in the army and during battles. The use of Chi-Rho symbol, which had initials of Christ’s name, made his enemies believe in the presence of a supernatural being during battles. This made his territory expand under one central government in Rome. The declarations that every battle won owing to the Christian God made the adoption of imperial policy and its cause an easy task. Roman Empire can be viewed as one of the states where religion was a motor force for expansion. Though some people claim the expansion of this state was due to good leadership and a very strong, well-trained army, which was able to capture other established states and put them under their rule.
Apart from the Roman Empire, there are other societal groups which developed as a result of integrating religion into the political structure of the community. Most of these groups emerged from the Eastern part of Europe. Some religious groups migrated from Europe to get a religious freedom and this led to some migrating into other continents like Northern America. Another good example of it is Zoroastrianism, state, which was developed around 1000 BCE, and perhaps what is todday eastern Iran. Judaism religion had a large influence on the expansion of Ancient Iran and Persian Empire.
Buddhism religion largely influenced the expansion of dynasties in China. It displaced Confucian philosophical traditions in China after 300 BC. Monks accompanied traders along Silk Road, and the faith spread through trading centers leading to the expansion of the states. Islam also influenced expansion of some states in the Middle East where the religion is widespread.
Though religion played a particular role in expansion of Portuguese and Spanish Kingdom under Christian monarchy, it was less important compared to other states. For example, Portuguese state expansion can be attributed to development of a good relationship with England, maritime orientation and its establishment in the African coast. Spain, on the other had, looked for military alliances with France and also due to the Ottomans and Venetians blocking trade with Asia along the Mediterranean. Their expansion was also largely attributed to Christopher Columbus getting financing for his first voyage; which led to Spanish establishing their a presence in Caribbean
In conclusion, as much as religion influenced expansion and growth of major states in history, in some of the states religion had little influence and strong armies, trade and colonization influenced the expansion of those States. Religion has brought a diverse culture of intellectual and political ideologies, all these are not enough to shun the threats it has imposed on the modern civilization such as war, discrimination and poverty, which are the result of the state government adopting varied religious systems.