Shinto and Politics

Back in November I pointed to an article in the Japan Times on the recent ascent of a politically oriented brand of Shinto, the indigenous faith of that island nation. Because of the role Shinto played in Japan during World War II, this has made some people very nervous, despite protestations from organizations like the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership that their mission is merely “renewing spiritual values” in their homeland. “In the past, Ise Jingu (shrine) was the fountainhead for unifying politics and religion and national polity fundamentalism,” author Hisashi Yamanaka recently told the Asahi newspaper. “Abe’s act is clearly a return to the ways before World War II.”
After I linked to that article,  P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, a polytheist who has participated in many Shinto ceremonies at a local temple in Washington state, warned against engaging in “Shinto-y slope arguments.” 
“I don’t think that a better understanding of Japan’s Shinto cultural and religious heritage being given to students in modern Japan is a bad thing at all–in fact, they would greatly benefit from knowing more about the symbols and phenomena which their parents revere but are often at a loss to explain, particularly in the post-World War II period for the reasons described above.

What is With Politicians Covering Up Half-Naked Goddesses?

Remember back in 2002 when John “Let the Eagle Soar” Ashcroft, then Attorney General, ordered the half-naked statue of the Spirit of Justice to be covered by a drape? “The [Department of Justice] spent $8,000 on blue drapes that hide the two giant, aluminum art deco statues, said spokesman Shane Hix. For aesthetic reasons, he said, the drapes were occasionally hung in front of the statues before formal events. The department used to rent the drapes, but has now purchased them and left them hanging. The drapes provide a nice background for television cameras, Hix said …