The Rise of Christianity and Buddhism and Their Importance


Religion has been in existence for many centuries, influencing people’s way of life including their political and socio-economic activities. Although each religion has a different beginning and different perspectives of life and death, they all focus on guiding society’s norms and cultural practices. In each religion, there are key characters who fought to introduce certain aspects and perpetuate them, through generations. In the middle age, Christianity was widely accepted in many regions with Catholicism being the only denomination (Little 6). Buddhism and Christianity have some common principles, one being the advocacy for equality and good governance. Although both differ on the role of the human being in shaping their own lives, they have continued to impact societies for many centuries. Leaders have to prove their adherence to the set principles for political power and influence.

Christianity and its Influence on Society and Politics

In the middle age, Europe recognized Christianity as the only religion. Both peasants and the nobility had to subscribe to the set principles. It was the most influential force to which all rulers bowed. Its influence on politics is noted from the fact that governments began budgeting for churches and monasteries, an issue that impacted global economies (Little 7). When Gregory I the great influenced and enforced the growth of a strong papacy and church power, it turned out that the church had as much power as the government. To some extent, the church became more influential than political leaders.

Chritianity Sought to Transform Politics

Christianity was based on the foundation of love, humility, and service to humanity. To this effect, the church condemned injustices and rebuked political arrogance and manipulation (Little 7). Political leaders were advised to serve their country as if serving God himself. Every politician was expected to be motivated by love and desire for service instead of money and power. Christ was preached as the head of the church and the society as one body in Christ (Spaulding 244). Hidden within was the message of unity and cohesion as opposed to division. Although the church was expected to the epitome of love, racism was still rampant in some parts of the world (Spaulding 244). Nevertheless, the faithful Christianity kept their faith and continued advancing the good news. In essence, Christianity sought to demolish the old political orders that were dominated by pride and influence and bring a new reign of love and humility.

Society has been termed as the building block of a healthy nation. When society is guided by moral and virtuous living, the whole nation is set to prosper. Christianity was a huge influential force on society right from the Middle Ages (Little 9). The early Christians were focused on a new way of life which led to a transformation from vices such as immorality, drunkardness and pagan practices, to a life of integrity. Due to the reduced crime rates, governments also benefitted from reduced expenditure on incarceration.

Political Leaders Used Christianity to Gain and Retain Power

The church had so much power that political figures knew they had to work with Christians if at all they were to succeed. Due to the large numbers of Christians, politicians campaigned in churches and attempted to look pious in their appearance and speech (Little 9). Most promises issued during campaigns were geared towards winning the vote of believers. Politicians also believed that if religious leaders prayed for them, they would succeed, thus working together with churches and their leaders (Spaulding 244). Although most of the political campaign promises went unfulfilled, the church shaped the leader’s political journey.

Buddhism and its Influence and Importance

Buddhism was and still is one of the most common religions in Asian countries. Just like Christianity in Europe, Buddhism stood as a powerful religion that influenced behavior, work, and even political endeavors. From the time of Siddhartha Gotama, politics has been a critical part of Buddhism (Moore 20). The power of Buddhism is noted from the fact that leaders recognized it as the source of power and the qualifying factor for legitimate leadership.

Buddhism Rebuked Poor Governance and Shaped Political Systems

In the political sense, Buddhism was the regulating power that influenced how leaders exercised their authority over the people. Leaders were warned against poor leadership with constant reminders of the needs of the people and the role of politicians. Diverting from the Buddhist beliefs was termed as a capital offense and religious leaders never tired of reminding political figures about the consequences of such acts (Moore 19). In essence, Buddhism sought to demolish the old political power that was built on arrogance and discrimination and replace it with good governance guided by humility and service to fellow men. For many years, Buddhist monarchs have held leadership positions over the people, especially in Asian countries where Buddhism is still recognized as the guiding force for good leadership (Jerryson 10). It became such an influential power in politics that even now leaders believe that their rule should be in accordance with Buddhist values.

Buddhism Served as a Guide to the Society

Buddhism introduced a new social order by advocating and enforcing moral living, devoid of any inhuman acts and unnecessary pride. Both the royal families and the peasants were viewed as equal members of society expected to treat each other with mutual love and respect (Moore 23). It came to erase social vices and promote virtuous living. The society being the building block of any political system, leaders were admonished to treat the people well and govern them with respect. In return, the society was expected to demonstrate obedience to their political leaders at all times. Immorality, theft, and murder were condemned severely and members of the society were reminded that they are in control of their lives (Moore 23). One of the key differences between Christianity and Buddhism was the influence of supernatural power in human behavior. While Christians believed that dependence on God was needed for moral living, Buddhism preached that individuals had the power to control their own behavior and reap the consequences thereof.

Importance of Buddhism to the Society and Political System

Buddhism brought numerous benefits to society and the political systems globally. Firstly, it promoted good governance and thereby reduced the cases of discrimination and misuse of funds (Jerryson 10). Leaders knew that Buddhism was the source of their power and therefore they had to follow its principles. At the society level, theft and immoral acts were reduced, also lowering crime rates and maintaining the economic progress since funds were not wasted on incarceration and maintenance of law and order. In essence, Buddhism became the central power that regulated all aspects of life; from family set-up, community programs, to government’s functions and the global economies by an extension (Jerryson 13). New political leaders understood that to gain power, they had to abide by every rule in Buddhist beliefs. One had to start by demonstrating their moral stand and service to society at the grassroots level for them to gain political power. Those who started this way, most; likely kept their power and influence in the political avenues.


In conclusion, there have been different political and social systems globally guided by different religious and social systems. Christianity was an influential power in social and political settings from the Middle Ages. Gregory I the Great is remembered as the man who introduced a very powerful and influential church system and papacy that revolutionized how political leaders ordered their lives. Leaders who came after Gregory I the great continued in his footsteps and the church was recognized as a central body that regulated every man’s behavior whether poor or of the nobility. Buddhism did in Asian countries what Christianity achieved in Europe. Although the two religions were built on different principles, both were guided by moral living and political and social accountability. Through Buddhism, political leaders adjusted their leadership principles to make sure they aligned with Buddhism-appraised characters. The only way to attain and maintain political power was abiding by the set rules by religious systems. Essentially, the church became a powerful force that went beyond political ambition and social status. Looking at the power and influence these two religions had on the social and political systems, it is clear that they made life better for everyone and helped deal with the old political systems. Unlike the old discriminatory political systems, the new system promoted service to humanity through love and virtuous living; an issue that can be attributed to the tough measures enforced by the two religious’ systems.

Works Cited

Jerryson, Michael Kessler. Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Little, William. Introduction To Sociology, 2Nd Canadian Edition. Bccampus, 2016.

Moore, Matthew J. “Buddhism And Politics”. Oxford Bibliographies Online Datasets, 2018. Oxford University Press (OUP), Web.

Spaulding, Hank. “Book Review: Bradley B. Burroughs, Christianity, Politics, And The Predicament Of Evil: A Constructive Theological Ethic Of Soulcraft And Statecraft”. Studies In Christian Ethics, vol 34, no. 2, 2021, pp. 244-246. SAGE Publications, Web.

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